New York State
Insurance Department


ISSUED 5/2/2006

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

SUPERINTENDENT OF INSURANCE HOWARD MILLS WARNS LONG ISLAND HOMEOWNERS OF RISKS AS HURRICANE SEASON NEARS

        Superintendent of Insurance Howard Mills today unveiled a series of steps Long Island homeowners can take to help their properties withstand a severe storm and counseled them to review their existing homeowners’ coverage in the weeks leading up to the start of hurricane season on June 1.

        "There are numerous ways Nassau and Suffolk homeowners can fortify their homes and mitigate potential storm-related losses," Superintendent Mills stated. "Yet it is also important that Long Islanders at the same time check their homeowners’ policies and assess whether their coverage is sufficient."

        Superintendent Mills’ announcement comes amid reports that homeowners’ insurers in coastal states, such as New York, Florida and Texas, are either refusing to sell new policies or non-renewing existing ones.

        "Although Long Island hasn’t been hit by a major hurricane since 1938, there is still the need to prepare for the possibility a storm could hit this region again within our lifetimes," Superintendent Mills said. Parts of Long Island were struck by Hurricanes Gloria (1985) and Hugo (1989).

        The New York State Insurance Department is urging homeowners to consider purchasing hurricane clips when replacing their home’s existing roof. When installed properly, hurricane clips can reduce the chances of a heavy wind ripping off a home’s roof. Storm shutters and reinforced doors and windows are other investments that may pay dividends for homeowners because those devices are built to withstand high, sustained winds. Insurers must provide premium discounts when storm shutters or hurricane- resistant laminated glass doors and windows have been installed in all of a home’s exterior openings.

        "The key phrases in a homeowners’ insurance policy are ones that address issues such as ‘replacement value’ and ‘windstorm deductibles," Superintendent Mills stated. "The Insurance Department has found over the years, however, that few homeowners are aware of the extraordinary economic implications of these policy terms."

        If a home is insured to its replacement value, a homeowner is covered in the event of a total loss for what it would cost to rebuild their home at its current location, subject to policy limits. Those few homeowners insured only for ‘actual cash value’ may find they are underinsured in the event of a total loss because the coverage amount is insufficient to rebuild the property. Replacement cost coverage for a home’s contents may be purchased for an additional charge.

        "More than a decade ago, insurers who wrote homeowners’ insurance on Long Island and other downstate counties were allowed to incorporate windstorm deductibles into their policies and we want to educate the public on this issue," Superintendent Mills stated.

        Windstorm deductibles, sometimes termed hurricane deductibles, are policy provisions under which a homeowner is responsible for the losses they incur equivalent to anywhere from the first 1 percent to 5 percent of their home’s insured value, resulting from a named hurricane of a size set forth in the policy. For example, on a home insured for $500,000, a 1 percent windstorm deductible would be $5,000. If the loss from a named storm in that instance were $5,000 or less, the homeowner would recover nothing from their insurer. Should the windstorm deductible be 5 percent of the home’s insured value, however, that same homeowner with a house insured for $500,000 would be responsible for the first $25,000 of damage.

        "New Yorkers should also know that the typical homeowners’ insurance policy does not cover them for flood-related losses," Superintendent Mills continued.

        Insurance against flood is available through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Homeowners can purchase flood insurance from an insurer, agent, broker or directly from the NFIP. Some downstate New York homeowners may already have purchased flood insurance because their mortgage providers required that they do so before making a loan. But the overwhelming majority of the state’s homeowners do not have this type of coverage. For more information on the NFIP, log onto www.floodsmart.gov.

        Moreover, the New York State Insurance Department has a guide to homeowners’ insurance that can be found online at www.ins.state.ny.us by linking to the ‘Consumers’ icon.

        The hurricane season extends each year from June 1-November 30.


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