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Get Smart About Insurance Week Good Time For Consumers to Review Their Fire Prevention Plans and Insurance Coverages

Superintendent of Insurance Gregory V. Serio today joined David Quinn, Chief Administrative Officer of Firemen’s Association of the State of New York (FASNY); James A. Burns, New York State’s Fire Administrator; Richard Barlette, Arson Bureau Chief, Office of Fire Prevention and Control; and James King, President of the New York State Association of Fire Chiefs to offer New Yorkers winter fire safety tips and encourage all residents to review their homeowners, renter’s or business insurance policy to ensure adequate coverage for hazards that winter weather brings.

"Winter months are typically peak months for home fires. In addition, the recent frigid conditions in the Northeast, have caused fires as individuals attempted to stay warm and further property damage has been done to homes and commercial buildings from water leaks and broken pipes because of the severe weather," said Serio. "The fire and insurance communities have joined forces to offer expert advice to best prevent home fires or other incidents and to offer guidance to prepare yourself and your home in case damage does occur."

State Fire Administrator James A. Burns said, "The destructive nature of fire can quickly destroy homes and property, and in colder weather, it is often more difficult for firefighters to extinguish fire before substantial damage occurs. We strongly encourage everyone to think about safety and fire prevention on a daily basis, ensure that your home has smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms, and develop an escape plan in case of fire. While prevention is a critical first step, we also urge people to review their insurance coverage so they will be protected if a fire occurs in their home and not face additional hardships in the wake of a fire."

"FASNY’s focus is on fire prevention. Our current statewide public service campaign is ‘Help us to help you’ prevent residential fires," said David Quinn, FASNY’s Chief Administrative Officer. "Our goal is to increase safety and fire hazard awareness in an effort to prevent fires before they occur."

Chief James King said, "Each year our fire departments across this state respond to fires that devastate families and communities. The tragedy is only compounded when we find that the family or business didn't have simple things, such as working smoke detectors, in home fire drills or insurance. We can all play a part in ensuring that when fire strikes, it doesn't take all that we have."

"New Yorkers should ensure that they have adequate homeowners or renters insurance coverage. With fire losses estimated in excess of $109 million each year in New York State, it is important to have proper insurance coverage to help with your financial recovery," added Serio. "Get Smart About Insurance Week, which runs from January 19-23 reminds all of us to take time to review our policies, make sure we have adequate insurance coverage, and know who to call when a loss occurs."

In addition to having adequate insurance coverage, the Department, along with the State’s fire community, advises New Yorkers to take precautions by installing smoke alarms and having fire extinguishers easily accessible in your homes.

"It is important to have smoke alarms and/or fire extinguishers in your home. New Yorkers with installed smoke alarms and/or fire extinguishers receive 5% discounts on their homeowners or renter’s insurance policies and the discount alone pays for these items that often prove to be life saving in critical fire instances," stated Serio.

In New York, a basic homeowner’s policy includes standard fire insurance. The typical fire insurance policy, named in the policy as Fire and Extraneous Perils Insurance, covers losses or damage to the insured property caused typically by fire, lightning, or an explosion of gas used for domestic purpose. There are some exclusions which may be added to the standard policy, typically for an additional cost.

It is estimated that fire claims the lives of 4,000 Americans and injures more than 25,000 each year. Typically a home fire can reek havoc on you and your family so it is critical to prepare yourself for the potential loss so if you are faced with an unfortunate circumstance such as a fire, you will be prepared. It is important to take the following steps:

  • Develop a home fire escape plan and practice it regularly with your family.
  • Smoke alarms, properly installed and maintained, can provide an early warning of a fire and, more importantly, save lives. They should be placed immediately outside sleeping areas, at the top of open stairways and on every level of your home. Test the detector once a month and change the batteries twice a year.
  • Some homeowners now have sprinkler systems in their homes. These systems can also minimize fire damage and save lives. Small fire extinguishers, strategically placed in your home, can help keep a small fire from becoming a much larger one. These simple precautions can minimize the property damage caused by a fire.
  • To assist in proving a claim to your insurer, it is important to keep a written inventory and videotape of household possessions, receipts for the purchase of items, and/or a videotape or photographs of your household and possessions. You should record the serial numbers of any electronic or computer equipment.
  • If you experience a major loss such as a fire, the first thing to do is to notify your homeowners insurance company or its agent. You can do this by telephone, although it is a good idea to follow up with written notification.

New Yorkers are encouraged to educate themselves about homeowners and renters insurance by calling the Department or visiting the Department’s "Homeowners Insurance Resource Center" on the Web site for free tips and up-to-date information. The Department also offers a free publication, "Consumer Shopping Guide for Homeowners and Tenants Insurance."

About Get Smart About Insurance Week

The New York State Insurance Department is participating in the national Get Smart About Insurance Week campaign, sponsored by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners to remind New Yorkers of the importance of proper insurance coverage. For more information on Get Smart About Insurance Week, to request a consumer brochure and get information about what they need and should expect from insurance coverage, consumers can call the New York State Insurance Department’s toll-free hotline 1-800-342-3736 or visit the Department’s Web sites at is Additionally, consumers can visit for information on Healthy NY or for information on corporate self-insurance programs.

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