State regulators have fined Narragansett Bay Insurance Co. $327,400 for forcing homeowners to wait weeks for adjusters to visit their damaged homes in the wake of superstorm Sandy.
The state Department of Financial Services began investigating the Rhode Island company in 2013 after policyholders on Long Island and elsewhere complained of having their inspections delayed by missed appointments and unreturned phone calls.
"When a natural disaster like superstorm Sandy strikes, insurers must respond rapidly to help their policyholders recover and rebuild," Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said.
Under New York law, insurance companies must send adjusters to inspect properties within 15 days of a claim being filed. After Sandy, which hit Oct. 29, 2012, state officials trimmed that deadline to six business days for certain claims.
A Narragansett spokesman declined to comment on the allegations or the settlement. The company handled roughly 54,000 homeowners' claims in New York State that year, including about 45,000 in Nassau and Suffolk counties. About 10,000 of the statewide claims were related to Sandy.
As part of the settlement, Narragansett has agreed to amend its procedures and demonstrate within 60 days that it can meet the state's deadlines.
"When an insurance company drags its feet, that can leave a homeowner or business in a crushing limbo," said state Financial Services Superintendent Benjamin M. Lawsky. "New Yorkers expect and deserve better. Insurers must stand ready and able to get policyholders back on their feet as quickly as possible during a disaster."