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ISSUED 09/17/2010 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

WRYNN ACTIVATES INSURANCE DISASTER HOTLINE

Insurance Professionals to Aid Consumers Recovering From Thursday’s Storm

The New York State Insurance Department has activated its Disaster Hotline to help consumers with insurance questions following the wind storm that caused extensive property damage Thursday evening in the New York City metropolitan area. Preliminary indications are that at least one tornado may have touched down in the area, and wind gusts of up to 100 miles per hour caused extensive damage.

The Disaster Hotline, 1-800-339-1759, will be staffed from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

“While a consumer’s first point of contact should be their insurance agent, broker or company, consumers should always feel free to contact the Insurance Department if they need help or are unable to resolve a dispute with their insurer. The Department’s Consumer Services Bureau professionals are also available to answer general inquiries regarding the coverage provided by insurance policies for windstorm claims,” Insurance Superintendent James Wrynn said.

In addition consumers may reference the Insurance Department’s website, www.ins.state.ny.us, to obtain information on property and automobile insurance. Consumers may use the website to file complaints in the event they have disputes with insurance companies.

Wrynn offered some general guidance for consumers who experienced property damage and may need to file insurance claims.

  • Damage caused to homes, garages or fences caused by trees toppled by wind should be covered under homeowners’ policies. However, there is no coverage for tree removal if the fallen tree caused no property damage. If a healthy tree on your property damages someone else’s property, the other person’s insurance should cover damages, provided there is no negligence on your part.
  • Interior water damage is normally covered if the exterior first suffers a covered loss such as wind blowing out a window or damaging the roof. Water leaking through the roof is usually not covered.
  • Insurance normally only covers losses from a power outage caused by damage to power lines that are located on your own property.
  • Some policies may also include windstorm deductibles. Shown on a policy’s declarations page, these deductibles range from one to five percent of the total insured amount, not just of the damage.

When filing claims, Wrynn suggested that consumers have copies of all their insurance policies readily available, including homeowners, renters, flood, automobile and business insurance. He also offered these pointers:

  • Keep a list of the names of the insurance company personnel you talk with when filing a claim and keep a detailed record of what they told you and when, including the claim number assigned.
  • Take video or still photos of damaged property to document the extent of damage.
  • Make property repairs to prevent damage from worsening, but don’t make permanent repairs until after your property is inspected by your insurer because permanent repairs could affect the amount of your claim.

The Insurance Department’s online “Homeowners Resource Center” offers detailed information and a number of useful tools consumers may find helpful. The “Homeowners Resource Center” can be found on the Insurance Department’s website, www.ins.state.ny.us.

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