Regulators Advise Policyholders on Post-Irene Claims Filing

State officials in New York advised residents Monday to get started filing insurance claims for damages to their cars, homes and other property in the wake of Hurricane Irene.

Economic costs from the storm, which killed at least two dozen people as it swept across the East Coast before heading into Canada, are still being tabulated by insurers and government officials. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo urged residents to file claims early as a means of starting the recovery process.

“The days following a natural disaster can be confusing and stressful, but it is important for those who have suffered property damage to file an insurance claim as quickly as possible to help protect their financial future,” Cuomo said in a statement.

Cuomo and other officials suggested several steps New York residents can take to ensure they are covered for losses:

  • Contact your coverage provider after tracking down your policy number and other relevant information. There may be a time frame in which you need to report damages.
  • Take photographs or video of the damage before undertaking any cleanup or repairs. Make needed fixes—such as covering broken windows and leaking roofs—only after documenting the damage. Do not have any permanent repairs made until your carrier has inspected the property and you have reached an agreement on costs.
  • Ask your insurer what documents and other paperwork you’ll need to file a claim. Document all conversations with your provider, including names, contact information and times and dates of calls.
  • Be ready to negotiate if you are not satisfied with your insurer’s first offer. If there is a disagreement about your claim, ask a representative to point out exactly why, using specific language from the policy.
  • If you think you are not being treated fairly by your carrier, contact the state insurance department to file a complaint.

Benjamin Lawsky, superintendent of the state’s department of financial services, said officials’ goal is to help people get back on their feet as quickly as possible.

“We will do everything we can to help people who suffered damage from the storm recover and get their lives back on track as quickly as possible,” Lawsky said in a release.

The work of New York officials mirrors efforts that are under way along the East Coast to help those affected by the hurricane recover.

Before the storm struck, North Carolina Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin advised residents of that state to be prepared to get the claims process going as soon as possible.

Goodwin said his department would be working to help North Carolina auto insurance and homeowner policyholders navigate the claims process in the storm’s aftermath.

In his statement, Goodwin pointed out that vehicle owners will only be covered for storm damages if they have comprehensive coverage included in their policies.

About Gregor McGavin
Gregor McGavin is an award-winning journalist who has reported across the country for such publications as The Associated Press, the Arizona Republic, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and the Press-Enterprise.

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