In response to policyholders’ experiences after Super-storm Sandy, New York lawmakers are considering legislation that would create a Homeowner’s Bill of Rights (A-2287), which would require insurers to provide property owners with an easy-to-understand disclosure detailing their coverage in the event of a catastrophic occurrence; how and when to file a claim; their rights if a claim is denied or a settlement offer is insufficient; and where and how to obtain coverage for catastrophic events. No matter which side of the political fence you are on, the proposed bill has some good features.

The proposed bill would also direct the Superintendent of Financial Services to create a Consumer Guide on Insuring against Catastrophic Losses and require insurance companies to inform property owners where they can obtain the Guide so they can be better educated and understand their rights.

The proponent of the proposed bill stated:

Almost 85 percent of my district including my own home and office were destroyed by Sandy and it is unacceptable that beleaguered home and business owners are stuck in limbo, unable to rebuild pending action by insurance companies. It is our sincere hope that these measures will create more informed insurance consumers and hasten recovery for communities like the ones in Southern Queens and Rockaway.

The New York Legislature is considering a second bill by the same proponent (A-1092), which would require insurance companies to promptly process claims resulting from storm damage. It would require insurance carriers to begin investigating these claims within six (6) days, and notify policyholders within fifteen (15) days as to whether their claim has been accepted or rejected, including their right to appeal if the claim has been rejected. Under this bill, if the claim is accepted, insurance carriers would be required to pay within three (3) business days. In the words of the proponent of this bill:

It has been over two months since Sandy ripped through our community and while rate paying residents have been working hard to pick up the pieces and rebuild, it seems that insurers are not doing their part. We should not have to wait weeks, months or years for an insurance company to process, approve, and pay for claims that will help rebuild our homes, businesses and lives.

I am sure policyholders who are still awaiting decisions from Super-Storm Sandy claims could not agree more. What are your thoughts?