On May 6, 2013, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed a new state law designed to help homeowners better understand their insurance policies. The new legislation stemmed from confusion following Superstorm Sandy, when many learned that their homeowners insurance did not provide coverage for all of the property damage sustained.
Under the new law, a one-page summary of the insurance policy, including notable coverages and exclusions, must be incorporated into the already existing state-required homeowners insurance consumer information brochure. This summary will not confer new or additional rights beyond those expressly provided for in the policy and must state that it is only provided as guidance on the policy terms.
The New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance will issue regulations providing a timeline for implementation of the new requirements. It is expected that the Department will seek comments from stakeholders, including the insurance industry, in the process.
A similar piece of legislation was signed by Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley on May 2, 2013, requiring annual notice to that state’s policyholders. The notification requires clear and specific descriptions of any anti-concurrent causation clauses that are contained in insurance policies, allowing for policyholders to be better informed of the coverage provided by their policy. In a May 6, 2013, e-alert distributed by Nelson Levine, reference was inadvertently made to a prior version of H.B. 695, which contained language not included in the bill signed by Governor O’Malley. The final version of H.B. 695 can be found here.