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ISSUED 6/03/2010 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

HOMEOWNERS URGED TO ACT NOW TO MITIGATE STORM DAMAGE WITH FORECAST OF AN ABOVE NORMAL HURRICANE SEASON

With predictions of an active Atlantic hurricane season, the New York State Insurance Department today urged homeowners to take practical steps to help minimize damage to their homes in the event of a serious storm.

“We can’t control the weather, but we can be prepared to better withstand a disaster should it occur. There are improvements that can be made to make our homes more resistant to windstorms and other natural disasters. Some improvements may even help reduce a homeowner’s insurance costs,” Insurance Superintendent James Wrynn said.

“The National Weather Service’s outlook for 2010 calls for an 85 percent chance of an above normal hurricane season with as many as 14 hurricanes. That makes it urgent for homeowners to be prepared,” Wrynn said.

The Insurance Department urged homeowners to consider these steps to lessen damage should storms strike coastal or inland areas:

  • Trim or remove dead or overhanging branches from trees surrounding your home, remove loose wires and clear your yard of objects that could be picked up and thrown by high winds.
  • Install storm shutters, or if your home already has them, make sure they fit properly and can be easily put into place.
  • Inspect your home’s roof sheathing, end gables and gutter leaders to make sure they are properly secured and consider outfitting your home’s roof with storm bracing.
  • Install impact-resistant glass windows if you are replacing windows or look into a low-cost improvement such as applying a laminate that will make windows less likely to shatter if struck by objects thrown by high winds.

Install dead bolt locks to better secure exterior doors and outfit your home with a fire extinguisher to put out any fires that could result from a storm.

Homeowners should contact their insurance companies, agents or brokers to determine if they are eligible for premium discounts when completing specific improvements.

Consumers can obtain additional information on storm readiness – such as what to include in an emergency “go kit” -- from such agencies as the New York State Emergency Management Office (http://www.semo.state.ny.us) or the Federal Emergency Management Administration (http://www.ready.gov).

Additional insurance-related information can be obtained at this location on the Insurance Department’s website, http://www.ins.state.ny.us/hmonindx.htm. Consumers should also feel free to contact the Insurance Department’s Consumer Services Bureau from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday toll-free at 800-342-3736.

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