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Eric R. Dinallo   Superintendent of Insurance  25 Beaver Street  New York, N.Y. 10004

ISSUED 12/15/2008FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

INSURANCE DEPARTMENT ACTIVATES DISASTER HOTLINE

The New York State Insurance Department today activated its toll-free Disaster Hotline to assist property owners affected by the ice storm that struck 16 Upstate counties and left thousands of New Yorkers without power, Superintendent Eric Dinallo said.

The Insurance Department's Disaster Hotline number is 1-800-339-1759. The hotline is staffed by personnel from the Department's Consumer Services Bureau on weekdays between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.

"Consumers who have storm-related damage and are having difficulty dealing with their insurance company or understanding their coverage should give the hotline a call," Dinallo said. "We are available to help New Yorkers work through the claims process with their insurance companies in the event they need help."

Dinallo urged homeowners and business operators to make every effort to protect their homes and businesses from further damage. This includes reviewing insurance policies for important information related to electric utility interruptions. Coverage for power failure is generally excluded in a homeowners policy. However, coverage may be available for damage occurring during the restoration of electricity by such events as electrical power surges.

Commercial property policies generally exclude coverage for power or utility service failure if the failure occurs outside the premises. There may also be waiting periods in policies before business interruption coverage is triggered. It is important for these property owners to confer with their insurance agent to determine the extent of coverage available.

Following are some typical questions and answers consumers may find helpful:

What damage to your home is covered?

Damage caused by wind, wind-driven rain, trees or other falling objects, as well as the collapse of a structure due to the weight of ice or snow, is covered under most standard homeowner policies. The repair of pipes frozen as the result of extreme cold weather may not be covered if damage is due to negligence, such as failing to maintain an adequate temperature in the house.

What damage to your home is not covered?

Many policies do not cover losses of any type incurred as the result of a flood, costs associated with the removal of a fallen tree (unless the tree lands on your home), food spoilage expenses created by an off-premises power outage, and water damage resulting from backed-up drains or sewers. Some insurers offer endorsements (additional protection that may be purchased) for certain coverage not included under a standard homeowner policy. Consumers should check with their insurance agent or company to determine their needs.

What should I do after damage to a car or an accident?

Damage to automobiles due to falling ice or trees is covered under your comprehensive automobile insurance policy. In the event of an accident while driving on icy roads, call your insurance agent or insurance company with your policy number and other relevant information as soon as possible, although you have 30 days in which to report the accident. Be sure you cooperate fully with the insurance company and ask your agent what documents, forms and data you will need.

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