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Sunday, November 23, 2014

Insurance delays prolong the disaster
(Page 2 of 3)
• Geico –– 3,800 of 32,800.
• Hartford –– 2,500 of 11,500.
• Liberty Mutual –– 8,000 of 28,000.
• Nationwide –– 5,500 of 14,000.
• Travelers –– 18,500 of 37,500.

Many homeowners made the salient point that their insurance policies would be canceled in a heartbeat if they failed to pay their insurance premiums on time. But in their time of greatest need, they feel abandoned. That’s just wrong.

Cuomo signed an executive order to cut through red tape, making it easier to temporarily certify qualified, out-of-state public adjusters, who aid homeowners in settling their insurance claims. That’s all well and good. Adjusters, who take a percentage of a settlement, can be helpful, but a homeowner shouldn’t need an adjuster or an attorney to advocate on their behalf to the insurance companies. People pay good money for insurance, and most of the time they never use it, allowing insurance companies to reap tens of millions, even billions, of dollars in profits. The very least homeowners should expect from them is timely, courteous service in times of peril.

The federal and/or state governments should enact legislation that would set a time frame within which insurers must process homeowners’ claims so they receive settlements that help them get their lives back together sooner rather than later. Particularly when it comes to flood insurance, there really should be no argument on this point, considering that flood insurance is a product of FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program. The insurance companies effectively act as the government’s flood insurance agents.

After Sandy, Cuomo required insurance companies to make their initial inspections of homes within six days after claims were filed. And, according to the Department of Financial Services, once a company makes a settlement offer that is accepted by the homeowner, it has five days to make payment. Other than that, though, there are no time requirements, meaning that months can pass after an insurance adjuster’s initial visit before a company makes a settlement offer, during which a homeowner may become increasingly despondent and jump at the first offer given, whether it’s fair or not.
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