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Welcome to CitizenConnects, your electronic town hall!

Submit Your Questions Now for Saturday’s Chat!

Submitted by Ben Lawsky on Sat, 10/01/2011 - 09:00

Good morning. Thank you for joining me for my first on-line chat. Looking forward to answering your questions!

Submitted by Ben Lawsky on Sat, 10/01/2011 - 10:01

Thanks to everyone who participated in the chat. If you have any questions or need any assistance in recovering from the storms, please call our disaster hotline at 800-339-1759. Thanks again!

Submitted by Josephine (not verified) on Sat, 10/01/2011 - 08:26

Mr. Lawsky, Are you copying the Governor's hair style? It seems you have a similar look.

Town/Region:

Westchester

Topic:

style

Submitted by Ben Lawsky on Sat, 10/01/2011 - 09:59

That never occurred to me. It's very flattering. Thanks.

Submitted by donna (not verified) on Fri, 09/30/2011 - 12:06

Bought home owner and flood policy ten days prior to storm.. I took two years to fix home from my savings so I have no mortgage. Flood insurance says they wont pay as I have a thirty day wait period. Is there anyway. Too dispute this?

Town/Region:

wawarsing

Topic:

flood insurance

Submitted by Ben Lawsky on Sat, 10/01/2011 - 09:57

Unfortunately no, as long as the 30 day waiting period was fully disclosed when you bought the policy.

Submitted by Mary (not verified) on Sat, 10/01/2011 - 08:51

What can the State do to help the people in destroyed towns like Windham and Prattsville recover? Many don't have flood insurance.

Town/Region:

East Jewett

Topic:

Hurricane relief

Submitted by Ben Lawsky on Sat, 10/01/2011 - 09:54

Governor Cuomo has directed a comprehensive state response to help communities impacted by the storm recover including providing grants to homeowners to purchase replacement appliances and direct aid to farmers. FEMA is providing aid to local governments and homeowners as well. My job is to try to maximize private insurance coverage by ensuring that insurance companies cover the damages they promised to cover. I should note that most companies have thus far been responsive and willing to provide the coverage they promised (sometimes with a little extra push from us).

Submitted by anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 10/01/2011 - 09:41

how long does the company have to pay me. They looked at my house but haven't paid anything yet.

Town/Region:

rensselear county

Topic:

payment

Submitted by Ben Lawsky on Sat, 10/01/2011 - 09:47

Great question. Within 30 days of receiving your proof of loss, the company must inform you of whether they will provide coverage and for how much. A payment should come soon thereafter. If your insurer is not being responsive or seems to be delaying, contact our hotline 800-339-1759 and we will try to help.

Submitted by Ann (not verified) on Sat, 10/01/2011 - 09:16

After the storm, my electricity was out for almost a week. We had a very well-stocked refrigerator and freezer and had to throw out more than $500 worth of food. Can I recover anything for that?

Town/Region:

Port Washington

Topic:

loss of electricity

Submitted by Ben Lawsky on Sat, 10/01/2011 - 09:43

Depending on your homeowner insurance policy coverage, such losses may be covered up to certain amounts so you should contact your insurer and make the claim. You should also contact the utility company. When there is a lengthy power outage, depending on its causes, the utility company may provide some assistance for these types of losses.

Submitted by Frank (not verified) on Sat, 10/01/2011 - 06:26

AFter damage, I disagree with the offer my company gave me. Do I continue repairs and argue later? Or must I settle prior to fixing my property.

Town/Region:

Washington County

Topic:

Insurance company offer

Submitted by Ben Lawsky on Sat, 10/01/2011 - 09:40

You should repair what is necessary for the safety and health of you and your family. It's probably best to hold off on other non-essential repairs until you agree on a settlement with your insurance company. Be aware, that some insurers have the option to use their own contractor and fix your damages themselves.

Submitted by Jane (not verified) on Fri, 09/30/2011 - 22:05

My broker told me I didn't need flood insurance when I purchased my homeowner's and now my insurer is denyng my claim for the storm damage to my home. What can I do?

Town/Region:

Prattsville

Topic:

flood insurance

Submitted by Ben Lawsky on Sat, 10/01/2011 - 09:35

Excellent question. First of all, it is important for everyone to realize that while flood insurance is not required (unless you live in a flood zone), virtually anyone can purchase flood insurance. If your broker told you that it was optional and up to you and you chose not to buy flood insurance, then there is not a lot you can do now. Seeking FEMA assistance would be your best bet in that case. However, if you wanted flood insurance and your broker told you that you could not get it, or that the broker would not write it, then you may have a claim. When I visited Prattsville recently, I spoke to certain homeowners who said they had wanted to buy flood insurance but were told by their broker that he would not write it. We are currently looking into this matter further to determine whether any brokers acted improperly.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 10/01/2011 - 09:13

Will this impact homeowners / flood insuracne rates for just impacted people or everyone?

Town/Region:

Troy

Topic:

Rates

Submitted by Ben Lawsky on Sat, 10/01/2011 - 09:27

The storms and their aftermath should have no impact on homeowner insurance rates. It is very hard to know at this point what the impact will be on flood insurance rates. Flood insurance is usually written through the National Flood Insurance Program which is administered by FEMA. I should add that we need to also take a comprehensive look at our national and state policies with respect to insurance for those living in coastal areas or in places that flood frequently in order to better protect homeowners.

Submitted by Kitty (not verified) on Sat, 10/01/2011 - 08:39

My homeowner's insurance wouldn't cover my basement flood damage. It's very expensive to repair the damage. What should I do? I don't want to pay for this kind of problem in the future.

Town/Region:

Westchester

Topic:

rainfall and flooding

Submitted by Ben Lawsky on Sat, 10/01/2011 - 09:20

Flood damage is not covered by homeowner's insurance, but it is covered by flood insurance. Now if you have flood insurance, basement damage is typically not covered, but damage to certain important things in your basement would be covered. For example, if your boiler and washer-dryer in your basement were damaged or ruined, that would be covered by your flood insurance. If you don't have flood insurance, your best bet is to apply to FEMA for assistance. We can put you in touch with FEMA through our disaster hotline.

Submitted by Martin (not verified) on Sat, 10/01/2011 - 08:51

Do I need flood insurance to file a claim on my car that was damaged by water?

Town/Region:

Greene County

Topic:

Auto and flood

Submitted by Ben Lawsky on Sat, 10/01/2011 - 09:10

No, you do not. This is a common question we have been getting. In certain towns in New York where there was significant flooding, numerous cars were ruined. If you have comprehensive car insurance, any damage to your car caused by flooding should be covered under your automobile insurance policy.

Finn (not verified) on Sat, 10/01/2011 - 07:40

A tree fell onto my house during Hurricane Irene and my insurance company has been telling me they won't cover the damage. Is that true? If it is, why? Thank you!

Town/Region:

Poughkeepsie

Topic:

Tree falling into my home

Submitted by Ben Lawsky on Sat, 10/01/2011 - 09:02

Good question. Your homeowner's policy should cover any damage to your home caused by the tree. Removal of the tree is typically not covered. I think you should start by making clear to your insurer that you are making a claim for damage to your home caused by the tree as opposed to tree removal. I expect they will cover that. If they continue to refuse, please call our disaster hotline at 800-339-1759. We can go over your policy with you and contact your insurer to make sure you get what you are entitled to under the policy.