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Under new rules, insurers must speed superstorm Sandy claims

Jaime Green sits in her gutted Oceanside home,

Jaime Green sits in her gutted Oceanside home, which was swamped by superstorm Sandy. In late December, she had been waiting for more than a month for Citibank to send her insurance settlement check. (Dec. 29, 2012) (Credit: Steve Pfost)

New York has imposed new rules forcing insurers to process claims more quickly in areas hit by superstorm Sandy.

Insurers still have 15 business days after they receive a claim of loss to decide whether, and how much, to pay. However, under the Department of Financial Services’ new rules, insurers that cannot make a decision within that time can only get 30-day extensions, instead of the 90-day extensions allowed under previous rules.

Also, the insurer’s letters to policy holders triggering the extensions must include not only the reason for the delay, but also the expected date by which a decision will be made. Previously, the insurer only had to list the reason.

In addition, for every claim extended past the initial 15-day period, insurers must report to the Department of Financial Services every week, detailing the amount of the claimed loss, the reason for the extension, the number of extensions already granted and the expected decision date.

The rules apply to homeowner's insurance, which typically covers wind and fire damage, but not flood insurance, which is a federal responsibility. Most of Sandy's devastation was caused by flooding. 

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced the changes on Tuesday. The new rules “will push insurers to move those claims as quickly as possible so people can repair their homes and get back to their lives,” Cuomo said in a statement.

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