The New York Insurance Association says New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s mandate to speed the payment of the more than 330,000 claims filed by New Yorkers related to Superstorm Sandy are unnecessary.

Gov. Cuomo cut the deadline to six from 15 days that insurers have to send adjusters to inspect home and business claims in an effort to help consumers receive payments sooner, NY’s Department of Financial Services said.

“We agree with the Governor that those affected by Sandy need to have their claims addressed in a timely manner,” said Ellen Melchionni, president of NYIA. “As the Governor mentioned there is an historic volume of claims as a result of this storm. Given the circumstances, insurance companies are doing their best to respond as quickly as possible. The report card issued by the Governor shows that companies are doing an outstanding job.”

Cuomo also signed an executive order to allow expedited, temporary licenses to be issued to qualified out-of-state public insurance adjusters, increasing the number of adjusters available, and is now publishing an insurer report card that assess their performance in responding to the disaster and paying claims. The report card is available at www.NYInsure.ny.gov.

According to DFS, insurers will be graded on:

Number of claims

Average time for an adjuster to inspect

Number of claims closed with and without payment so far

Total number of consumer complaints

Number of complaints as a percentage of number of claims

Companies included in the report card include: Adirondack Insurance Exchange, Allstate, Amtrust Financial, Andover, Arch, Assurant, Chartis/AIG, Chubb, FM Global, GEICO, Hartford, Liberty Mutual, Metropolitan, Narraganset Bay Insurance Co., Nationwide, New York Central Mutual, NYPIUA, QBE, State Farm, Tower, Travelers, USAA, Utica National, and Zurich.

"There simply is no substitute for speed when it comes to insurance payouts after a storm. We must do everything possible to make sure we hold insurance companies accountable to their customers. Today’s actions do just that," Cuomo said.

NYIA also said that insurance companies must fully review the claims to ensure legitimate claims are paid quickly and fairly, noting that while many can be quickly settled complex claims take longer to review.

“Insurance exists to provide financial security for individuals during times of need. Companies are upholding their commitments to policyholders, providing coverage in accordance with what is outlined in each individual policy,” said Melchionni. “We have mobilized all of our forces and used every available resource to help those affected by this storm.”

NYIA noted that of the many states affected by the storm, Governor Cuomo and DFS are the only ones to have imposed new mandates on how insurance companies must operate in response to Sandy.

“The insurance industry has made every effort to work with state officials and comply with the variety of continually changing guidelines and orders that have been issued by New York regulators,” Melchionni said. “The main focus of companies though has been to help policyholders during this crisis situation.”

Most homeowners, renters and commercial policies provide coverage for losses caused by wind and fallen trees, NYIA noted, adding that damage caused by flood and storm surge would be covered only if the claim and had purchased separate flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), a federal government program administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

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