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State to help file Irene insurance claims

ALBANY -- New York State will help property owners and small businesses file insurance claims for damage from Tropical Storm Irene through local assistance centers and a hotline, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's office said Tuesday.

The State Department of Financial Services plans to hold public forums in the most affected regions to answer questions about the claims process.

Aviva Abramovsky, associate dean at Syracuse University's College of Law, noted that paperwork can be complicated and insurance companies have deadlines for notification that claims will be submitted.

"The number-one thing they should do immediately is call their insurance company to tell them that a claim is coming in, even if they don't have all the details of what the claim is for," Abramovsky said. Property owners without flood insurance who suffered damage from Irene may be able to file claims for other types of property damage from fallen trees and rain, she said.

Cuomo spent the Labor Day weekend in hard-hit areas upstate, including Margaretville and Keene, which he said Tuesday had "made amazing progress." The governor said he didn't believe the state would need an additional budget appropriation to pay for storm costs, estimated to be around $1 billion in New York.

However, officials said the total cost to the state was still being tallied and would depend on how much money the federal government contributes.

The New York Department of Financial Services hotline is 800-339-1759. The department also is directing property owners to its website at ins.state.ny.us.

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