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ISSUED 09/17/2010 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

DEPARTMENT RELEASES HOMEOWNERS INSURANCE SHOPPING GUIDE

Guide helps homeowners, renters select the right insurance protection

Superintendent James Wrynn today announced the release of the 2010 Consumer Shopping Guide for Homeowners and Tenants Insurance, a publication prepared by the New York State Insurance Department to provide consumers with information and practical advice on how to select insurance policies.

“It’s important for homeowners and renters to protect their homes and possessions by obtaining the right kind of insurance and the right level of insurance protection. This guide can help consumers weigh their insurance options as they shop for the policies that work best for them,” Wrynn said.

The guide is available on the Insurance Department’s website, www.ins.state.ny.us.

Two versions of the guide are available. A Downstate Edition contains price comparison tables for the New York City metropolitan area. An Upstate Edition contains price comparison tables for all Upstate counties. The tables show the relative premiums for policies offered by multiple insurers for a sample property.

The guide describes the various types of policies and how insurance can be used to protect consumers’ homes and the contents of their homes. In addition, the guide offers pointers on how to address such situations as reporting losses, handling disputes with insurers and filing complaints with the Insurance Department.

The “Homeowners Insurance Resource Center” on the Insurance Department’s website also contains additional information on property/casualty insurance consumers may find helpful.

“Needs change and you should change your insurance to match,” Wrynn advised. “Read your policy, read the Guide, understand how your insurance works and update your policy if you need to.”

Wrynn pointed to some basic items that should be considered:

  • Homeowners insurance does not cover floods or earthquakes. A separate flood insurance policy must be purchased for floods. Flood insurance policies can be purchased from most property/casualty insurers who act as agents for the National Flood Insurance Program.
  • Not all deductibles work the same way. Some are based on dollar value and others are based on a percentage of the replacement value of a home or the amount of insurance coverage. A flat $1,000 deductible, for example, means that $1,000 will be taken from the value of the claim in calculating reimbursement. But a five percent windstorm deductible on a home valued for insurance purposes at $500,000, for example, means the deductible will be $25,000, not just five percent of whatever damage, if there is less than a total loss.
  • Policies in some coastal areas include mandatory catastrophic hurricane windstorm deductibles, which are shown on a policy’s declarations page. These deductibles range from one to five percent of the insured amount. Events triggering the application of these deductibles vary depending on the insurer. Some insurers may use a Category One Hurricane as the triggering event, while others may use a Category Two Hurricane. Other insurers use a specific wind speed as a trigger or a mandatory deductible amount for all hurricane losses. Consumers should be aware of the threshold for excluding damages.

Consumers should contact their insurance company, agent or broker to discuss their specific insurance needs. They 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 if they need further help.

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