Guidance for Making Claims

    In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has taken several steps to aid homeowners who have made or will make storm-related claims to their insurance companies.
    First, the governor announced last week that homeowners will not have to pay hurricane deductibles on claims relating to the storm, as Sandy did not have hurricane-force winds when it made landfall in New York, his office said in a release.
    And on Monday, the governor announced that at his direction, the state’s superintendent of financial services, Benjamin M. Lawsky, has “instructed insurers to accept homeowners’ documentation, including photos and video, of losses so residents can discard debris” before the arrival of a northeaster forecast to have hit the region yesterday.
    Usually, insurance companies require on-site inspections by a claims adjuster before a claim can be processed; people are told to make only the most necessary repairs before an adjuster’s visit. The magnitude of destruction in this case makes this challenging, and the forecast of a second serious storm raises health and safety concerns, the governor said in the release. “Health and safety must come first. If debris is creating unsafe conditions, people must be able to clear it away without hurting their right to make an insurance claim.”
    People have been advised to carefully document damages before disposing of the debris. Mr. Lawsky suggested not only photographs and videos, but also keeping samples of damaged materials. He instructed homeowners to make a written inventory of damaged items. They should take individual color photographs and, if possible, video of all damaged property, targeting high-ticket items, with their cameras set to record the date and time.
    They should also keep samples of carpeting, wallpaper, window treatments, upholstery, and other items where quality is a factor in a claim. Those records should then be kept in a secure location to share with an adjuster.