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ISSUED 9/17/2003 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

DEPARTMENT ADVISES CONSUMERS TO PREPARE FOR THE STORM SEASON

Superintendent of Insurance Gregory V. Serio today advised New Yorkers to take the necessary steps in preparation for the storm season.

"With news of Hurricane Isabel in the Atlantic Ocean, it is important for consumers to begin preparing for storms to best reduce chances of injury or major property damage," said Serio. "The storm season and potential hurricanes can result in tremendous property damage, so consumers are encouraged to educate themselves about their insurance needs by reviewing their insurance policies to make sure they are adequately covered."

Consumers should take the following steps in preparation for a storm or hurricane:

  1. Develop an evacuation plan on safest evacuation routes.
  2. Have disaster supplies on hand which include flashlights, extra batteries, a portable radio, first aid kit, emergency goods and water, essential medicines, cash, etc.
  3. Protect your windows with permanent shutters or plywood panels.
  4. Trim back dead or weak branches from trees.
  5. Bring outdoor objects such as lawn furniture, garden tools inside and anchor objects that cannot be brought inside.

Important aspects of coverage include:

  • Homeowners’ insurance policies cover damage to your home as a result of such perils as wind and falling objects.
  • Flooding is generally not covered under standard homeowners policies, but is available through the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s National Flood Insurance Program.
  • Homeowner’s policies for coastal area residents may have a separate windstorm deductible.
  • Damage to automobiles from falling objects is covered if your automobile policy has comprehensive physical damage coverage for the damaged vehicle.
  • To assist in proving a claim to your insurer, it is important to keep a written inventory of household possessions, receipts for the purchase of items, and/or a videotape or photographs of your household and possessions.

The Department reminds New Yorkers if property damage occurs they should contact their individual insurer representatives as soon as possible. Also, every effort should be taken to protect their homes from further damage, such as covering any roof damage that has occurred as a result of the storms. Permanent repairs should wait until the insurance company’s adjuster has inspected the property.

In addition, the Insurance Department’s toll-free hotline offers assistance with storm-related insurance inquiries or complaints. The toll-free number is 1-800-342-3736. The Department’s hotline is staffed by insurance experts from the Department’s Consumer Services Bureau, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and the hours will be extended to 8 a.m. to 8p.m. if necessary.

 

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