Nearly 90 Percent of Sandy-Related Claims Now Closed in New York

It’s taken nearly four months, but major New York insurers have now closed 88 percent of the property damage claims that were brought about by Superstorm Sandy in October, according to a report released by the New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) on Feb. 22.

Among the 24 insurance companies included in the report, there were about 390,800 claims filed for damages to cars and houses in the wake of Sandy. Of the 344,000 that have been closed so far, about 80 percent resulted in a payment being made to the policyholder.

There have been about 250,500 Sandy-related vehicle claims coming out of the Northeast, according to an update from the National Insurance Crime Bureau. An estimated 150,000 of those originated in New York.

Officials Show Displeasure with Insurers’ Reponse

A day before the NYDFS released its report, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and and NYDFS superintendent Benjamin Lawsky publicly chided insurers for their response to Sandy-related claims, though the emphasis was mostly on insurers who have failed to close homeowners’ claims in a timely manner.

They announced the department would be investigating insurers Narragansett Bay, Tower and Kingstone for having such a high consumer-complaint volume.

“These practices and the volume of complaints on outstanding claims are totally unacceptable,” Lawsky said in a statement. “We know that the storm produced extraordinary circumstances, but we still expect insurers to live up to the highest standards.”

As of Feb. 22, the department had received 2,560 complaints regarding the 24 insurers included in the report.

One thing the department says it will be investigating is the amount of time it took for those three insurers to process claims.

For the insurers included in the report, the average time it took from a consumer’s reporting of a claim to an insurer’s delivering an estimate of payment was 21 days; but the average time it took at each individual insurer ranged from as low as 8 days to as high as 38 days.

Closure and Payment Rates Vary among Major Insurers

Among the major insurance providers included in the department’s report, GEICO is closest to having all of its Sandy claims squared away, and it also has the highest percentage of closed claims that resulted in payment.

GEICO has received 34,102 Sandy-related claims, 99 percent of which have been closed, leaving just 504 left to be resolved.

About 93 percent of the claims filed with GEICO that have been closed so far were closed with payment, the highest percentage among the major insurers included in the report.

Allstate, which had the largest volume of Sandy-related claims, has closed 93 percent of them. It received nearly 81,700 claims total.

But not all insurers have such high closure rates.

Nationwide had the lowest closure rate, with just 30 percent of its 15,600 claims resolved.

About Ben Zitney
Benjamin Zitney has been covering the auto insurance industry for the past 2.5 years. Before coming to Online Auto Insurance News, he produced an extensive company history of the 30-year-old California Joint Powers Insurance Authority and worked at the Cal State Long Beach Daily Forty-Niner as a reporter, copy editor and news editor.

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