To better address the needs of New York insureds in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has issued an executive order permitting public adjusters to obtain temporary adjusters’ licenses in New York. In addition, he has directed that other measures be taken to expedite homeowner claims, extended the moratorium on policy terminations through December 15, extended State Insurance Fund premium payment deadlines, and pledged to work with the governors of Connecticut and New Jersey to seek federal aid.
Temporary Adjuster Licenses
Through Executive Order No. 82, Governor Cuomo has suspended certain licensing requirements that ordinarily apply to public adjusters in an effort to increase the number of public adjusters available to assist homeowners with their insurance claims. Public adjusters who (1) are licensed in another state, (2) have had five years of experience within the last ten years as a public adjuster in the United States or (3) have been licensed as a public adjuster in New York within the last five years are eligible to apply for a temporary public adjuster license. Subject to certain other requirements, any such adjuster must complete a temporary license application that must be signed by a New York licensed public adjuster who will supervise the temporary adjuster’s activities.
Online “Report Card” for Insurers
In addition to Executive Order No. 82, the Governor has directed the New York Department of Financial Services (Department) to issue new regulations governing the processing of claims brought due to Sandy and implementing an online “report card” system for insurers.
Specifically, starting November 29, 2012, the new regulation imposes a 6–business day, rather than a 15–business day, time frame for insurers to begin investigating these claims. This new regulation also provides that, with the exception of claims made under federal flood insurance policies, homeowners can make immediate repairs to heating systems, exterior doors, windows and certain other structures or mechanisms that assist in heating their homes. To assess how insurance companies are responding to the needs of insureds, the Department has established an online system whereby insureds can view the performance of not only their insurance company but other carriers as well. This new website will be updated regularly for consumers to monitor. A list of the insurers who will receive this “report card” can be found on the Department’s website.
The criteria used to determine insurer performance are:
- Number of claims
- Average time for adjuster to inspect
- Number of claims closed with or without payments
- Total number of consumer complaints
- Number of complaints as a percentage of the number of claims.
Policy Termination Moratorium and Premium Payment Deadline Extensions
The 30-day moratorium prohibiting insurers from terminating, cancelling or not renewing automobile, homeowners’ and certain commercial insurance policies, which became effective October 26, 2012, has been extended for an additional 21 days through December 15, 2012.
Additionally, the governor announced in a separate communication that the State Insurance Fund will extend premium payment deadlines for workers’ compensation and disability policies with premium due dates between October 26, 2012, and December 26, 2012, until January 26, 2013. Business owners are being urged to contact the State Insurance Fund to discuss payroll issues and premium adjustments. This action will assist businesses that are trying to recover from the storm by providing them more time and flexibility in making these premium payments.
Finally, Governor Cuomo issued a joint statement with Governor Malloy of Connecticut and Governor Christie of New Jersey in which they pledged to work together to secure federal aid and other assistance to address the many issues raised by Superstorm Sandy.