For New Yorkers whose property sustained damage as a result of tropical storm Irene, there’s a long list of things to do, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Benjamin Lawsky, superintendent of the state Department of FInancial Services, which oversees the Insurance Department.
“The days following a natural disaster can be confusing and stressful, but it is important for those who have suffered property damage to file an insurance claim as quickly as possible to protect their financial future,” Cuomo said in a statement.
— Contact their insurance company with their policy number and other relevant information. Some policies require notification within a certain time frame. Ask what documents and forms you will have to file. Keep a log of all conversations with the insurance company and agent, including names, times and dates of calls or visits and contact details.
— Take photographs or video of the damage before clean-up or repairs. Do not have permanent repairs made until the insurance company has inspected the property and there is an agreement on the cost. Save all receipts, including those from temporary repairs. Be prepared to negotiate if the first offer from the insurance company doesn’t meet your expectations.
— People who cannot stay in their damaged homes should ask whether their policies have coverage for additional living expenses.
— People who feel they are being treated unfairly can contact the Insurance Department. A complaint can be filed against the insurer on this page. The department also has a “Homeowner’s Resource Center” page.
— For additional help, call the agency’s Consumer Services Bureau at 800-342-3736 between 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Disaster-related calls should go to the department’s disaster hotline at 800-339-1759, which will be open between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. for as long as needed.
— State officials are sending the Insurance Department’s mobile unit to hard-hit locations to provide assistance for customers. They have asked insurance companies to accommodate consumers who had to evacuate their homes as a result of the storm and have to seek care from out-of-network providers.