November 30, 2012 — New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and the Department of Financial Services (DFS) issued an executive order to tighten regulations on insurance companies. The new rules are intended to expedite the processing and settlement of claims. Insurance companies will also be evaluated and graded to hold the companies accountable for their actions.
The new rules will require the 24 insurance companies in the state to start investigating claims for Sandy victims within 6 days instead of the standard 15. Governor Cuomo has issued temporary licenses to qualified out-of-state insurance adjustors, which increases the number of adjustors available to help homeowners.
The rules also make it clear that claimants can make repairs necessary for health and safety — including adding heating systems, hot water systems, electrical repairs, windows, and minor permanent repairs, such as exterior walls to retain heat. This distinction is important, because homeowners usually must wait for an insurance adjustor to settle permanent repairs to their property.
Insurance companies will be prohibited from canceling the policies of homeowners and business owners until December 15, 2012 for any reason, including non-repayment of insurance premiums.
DFS will also be grading insurance companies with an online report card system, a move intended to hold insurance companies accountable for their customers. The grading system will also allow consumers to see how their insurance company compares to others in the state.
Companies will be evaluated based on the number of claims the company received, the time it took to adjust each claim, the number of claims closed with and without payment, the total number of complaints, and the percentage of claims that sparked a complaint.
Governor Cuomo issued this statement after issuing the order:
“In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, it is vital that New Yorkers receive their claim settlements as soon as possible, so that they can rebuild their homes, businesses and lives. There simply is no substitute for speed when it comes to insurance payouts after a storm. We must do everything possible to make sure we hold insurance companies accountable to their customers. Today’s actions do just that.”