Skoufis’ Insurance Reform Legislation Passes the AssemblyJun 6th, 2013 | By HV Insider | Category: Political
Legislation to streamline insurance claims in the wake of a disaster passes assembly
With the ramifications of Hurricane Irene and Superstorm Sandy still being felt in Orange and Rockland Counties, Assemblyman James Skoufis (D-Woodbury) announced two bills he authored that would ensure insurance claims following natural disasters are dealt with more efficiently have passed the Assembly.
“When Hurricane Irene hit our community in 2011, many families and businesses were destroyed and left waiting and held in limbo for months on end by the same insurance companies that were supposed to be helping them rebuild,” Skoufis said. “And when Sandy hit, many communities in New York were left feeling the same way – abandoned and forgotten by their insurance companies. This legislation amends that unjustifiable problem and ensures that insurance companies respond to claims in a timely and efficient manner.”
The first bill (A.1092-A) would impose a strict 15-business-day time frame for insurance companies to approve or deny claims following declared states of emergencies. An insurer would be allowed a one-time extension of 15 additional business days to continue their investigation, provided that the insurer notifies the property owner of the reasons additional time is needed for the investigation. Additionally, once a claim has been accepted, insurers are required to pay it within 3 business days.
“Families and businesses affected by these catastrophic storms simply do not have time to wait around for insurance companies to get back to them whenever they feel like it,” Skoufis said. “This strict timeline will require insurance companies respond in the timely manner that these emergencies call for.”
The second bill (A.1093) further assists those filing insurance claims during an emergency by creating a task force comprised of the state Department of Financial Services, Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, insurance industry representatives, local disaster response officials, adjusters and consumer groups to examine how insurers respond to disasters. The task force would come up with ways state and local agencies can assist claimants in connecting with insurance companies and what steps the industry can take in improving response time in the future.
“This task force would examine how the insurance industry responds to disasters and help find ways to improve the communication between the claimants and the insurance companies in the future,” Skoufis said. “In the unfortunate event that we are hit by another natural disaster, these bills will help our families rebuild in a more timely fashion.”
These two bills were the first pieces of legislation introduced by Assemblyman Skoufis back in January upon taking office.