Assembly Approves Windstorm Insurance Coverage Standards

Legislation ensures reasonable deductibles for Long Island homeowners
March 11, 2011
Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg (D-Long Beach) announced the Assembly passed legislation he authored requiring the state Superintendent of Insurance to establish uniform standards for homeowners windstorm insurance deductibles (A.3283).

“Under the current patchwork of policies, some Long Islanders may have to pay much higher out-of-pocket expenses than their neighbors for windstorm damage repairs,” Weisenberg said. “This bill would provide homeowners with a reasonable standard of coverage from their insurance companies.”

Currently, insurance companies have varying “triggers” for windstorm deductibles, which may be determined by storm categories, wind speed and geographic location. In addition, some deductibles are based on dollar value, while others are based on a percentage of home value or the amount of insurance coverage. These out-of-pocket charges can range up to 5 percent of home value and leave homeowners responsible for paying tens of thousands of dollars.

Weisenberg’s legislation would permit insurers to charge deductibles only when a hurricane or strong windstorm makes landfall. It also requires insurance carriers to provide policyholders with written disclosure notices that clearly explain the amount and circumstances of windstorm deductibles.

“By improving windstorm insurance coverage, Assemblyman Weisenberg’s bill gives me peace of mind that if a big storm hits I can afford to repair my house,” said Paula Abraham of Oceanside.

Weisenberg is also sponsoring legislation that would require insurers to refund a percentage of the premiums paid after a homeowner receives a non-renewal notice based on geographic location (A.2561). According to Newsday, since 2007 there have been 145,000 non-renewals of homeowner insurance policies in coastal areas of New York City, Long Island and Westchester County.i Long Beach resident Richard Boodman was dropped by his insurance company because he lives within 1,000 feet of water.

“I'm glad to see that Assemblyman Weisenberg is standing up for homeowners,” said Boodman. “I never would have bought my house if I knew that the insurance companies were planning to abandon homeowners. I can't pick up a 30 ton house and move it.”

i Herbert, Keith. Newsday. The insurance squeeze. October 13, 2010.