Report: About 80% of NY’s Superstorm Sandy Claims Closed

Insurers are making headway in resolving claims related to Superstorm Sandy, with 4 out of every 5 now closed, according to a state-sponsored “report card” on New York claims data that has been regularly updated since the disaster struck the state last October.

As of Jan. 23, the 24 insurers listed in the report had received almost 385,300 claims, about 80 percent of which have been closed. That’s higher than the 68 percent claim-closure rate reported by the New York Department of Financial Services (DFS) as of Dec. 27.

Insurers are also closing claims with payment at a higher rate now (79 percent) than in December (77 percent).

A breakdown between claims of homeowners and car insurance in New York was unavailable.

Varying Closure Rates Among Largest Insurers

The listing of insurance carriers receiving the top five numbers of claims has stayed the same since the last report card: Allstate, State Farm, Travelers, GEICO and Liberty Mutual, all of which were the only companies to receive more than 30,000 claims.

Out of those insurers, GEICO had closed the lowest proportion of claims, with a closure rate of 59 percent.

But GEICO also had the highest proportion of closed claims that resulted in a payment, at 90 percent; Allstate was the insurer in that group with the next-highest closure rate with payment, at 83 percent. GEICO also had the lowest complaint-per-claim ratio of that group and the shortest average period of time from the initial claims report to payment, at 16.7 days.

Travelers had the highest complaint ratio of that group, despite having the highest claims closure rate and the largest number of in-field adjusters working on Sandy claims of any insurer listed in the report card.

With 1,595 adjusters, Travelers outpaced other insurers by far; Liberty Mutual had the next-largest team of adjusters, at around 575. There were a total of about 4,640 adjusters from all insurance providers listed in the report.

High Complaint Ratios Belonged to Insurers with Fewer Claims

In comparing the number of complaints with claims, insurers with lower claims numbers often had higher complaint-to-claim ratios.

Of the five insurers that showed complaint ratios above 1 percent, none of them had more than 17,000 claims.

Here is a breakdown of companies that had received complaints on more than 1 percent of their claims:

Company Claim volume Complaints as a percentage of claims
Tower Group 16,444 1.36%
Naragansett Bay 10,909 1.19%
NY Property Insurance
Underwriting Association
(NYPIUA)
10,318 1.85%
Assurant 4,689 1.22%
QBE 1,872 1.44%

As was the case with last month’s data, NYPIUA continued to show the highest complaint rate of any insurer listed in the report card.

Officials: ‘What Is the New Normal’?

At the Property/Casualty Insurance Joint Industry Forum hosted last week, officials said they were pleased to see that the insurance industry was well-equipped to deal with the financial damage wrought by the disaster.

But the looming question was whether or not such disasters would be more commonplace.

Sandy “probably also highlights the whole issue that the industry is trying to deal with, which is ‘what is the new normal?’ as far as level of catastrophe losses,” Vincent J. Dowling, a managing partner at Dowling & Partners, said in a statement. “The last few decades, the losses relative to premium continue to increase, and we have not had ‘The Big One’ yet.”

Officials also said that Sandy-related claims had been submitted to insurers at a faster pace than other previous catastrophes.

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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