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A toll-free Disaster Hotline is now available to help all New Yorkers hit by the recent snowstorms deal with insurance related issues, New York State Insurance Department Acting Superintendent Eric Dinallo announced today. The Insurance Department had activated the hotline in response to Governor Eliot Spitzer's declaration of a State Disaster Emergency in Oswego, but extended it after Wednesday’s snowstorm caused damage statewide.

The Insurance Department’s Disaster Hotline number is 1-800-339-1759, with Consumer Services Bureau personnel available weekdays between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.

"With Wednesday’s storms affecting most of the state, we want to make sure New Yorkers get all the help they need," Acting Superintendent Dinallo said. "The Insurance Department is available to answer inquiries regarding insurance policies and coverage, as well as to assist with complaints. Homeowners and businesses experiencing damage should also contact their private sector insurance representatives to assess their level of coverage and begin the claims process as soon as possible."

Acting Superintendent Dinallo reminded all New Yorkers to remain prepared for winter weather hazards.

"New York’s insurance consumers should be aware of what is covered and what is not covered under their insurance policies," Acting Superintendent Dinallo said. Issues consumers should know include:

  • What damage to your home is covered?

    Damage caused by wind, wind-driven rain, trees or other falling objects, as well as the collapse of a structure due to the weight of ice or snow, is covered under most standard homeowner policies. The repair of pipes frozen as the result of extreme cold weather may not be covered if damage is due to negligence, such as failing to maintain an adequate temperature in the house.

  • What damage to your home is not covered?

    Many policies do not cover losses of any type incurred as the result of a flood, costs associated with the removal of a fallen tree (unless the tree lands on your home), food spoilage expenses created by an off-premises power outage, and water damage resulting from backed-up drains or sewers. Some insurers offer endorsements (additional protection that may be purchased) for certain coverages not included under a standard homeowner policy, so check with your insurance agent or company to determine your needs.

Acting Superintendent Dinallo also advised motorists to know what to do in case they are involved in one of the weather-related accidents that usually accompany snowstorms.

  • What information should be obtained following a snow-related automobile accident?

    Obtain the names, addresses, telephone numbers and license numbers of all persons involved in the accident and all witnesses. Record the time, date, location, road conditions, make and year of the vehicles involved, the driver’s insurance information, apparent damage and injuries, and your version of what happened, especially when a police report hasn’t been filed.

  • What should I do after an accident?

    Call your insurance agent or insurance company with your policy number and other relevant information as soon as possible, although you have 30 days in which to report the accident. Be sure you cooperate fully with the insurance company and ask your agent what documents, forms and data you will need.

    Take notes each time you talk to you insurance company, agent, lawyers, police or others involved in the situation. Write down the dates, times, names and subjects you discussed, as well as any decisions or promises made.

    Ask your insurance company if you have coverage for a rental car if your car is not drivable and save any receipts and bills incurred for car rental, towing and storage expenses.

Department of Financial Services


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