Tuesday, October 29, 2013

New York Issues Post-Disaster and Natural Catastrophe Regulatory Guidance

On October 28, 2013, the New York State Department of Financial Services issued Insurance Circular Letter No. 8 (2013).  This regulatory guidance apprises insurers of the the various post-disaster regulatory measures they should anticipate in the future.  Of course, the listing is only an example of regulatory measures that might be employed, with others available via statute and emergency powers of the Superintendent (e.g., suspending provisions of statutes or regulations).

The Circular Letter lists five categories of possible post-disaster regulatory action.  First is a moratorium on policy cancellation or non-renewal for non-payment of premium.  Essentially, the DFS is asking carriers post-disaster to work with insureds and not go by the strict terms of the insurance contract when an insured may have trouble making premium payments post-disaster.  After Sandy, the DFS prevented cancellation or non-renewal for any reason, which had the unintended effect of precluding carriers from ridding themselves of policies they no longer wished to write having nothing to do with the affects of the storm.  If limited to non-payment of premium issues because of a disaster, there is less likelihood that normal commercial behavior will be affected.

Second, the processing of claims should be done promptly and efficiently.  This goes without saying, but you may recall that the DFS required adjusters to act on claims within very short time periods and put up a "report card" on the DFS website to show those who were not complying.  The suggested actions in this section of the Circular Letter are obvious, but use the word promptly, which goes undefined.  Related to claims is the third item, which is expediting the process for adjuster licensing.  This allows for adjusters to come into New York and begin working when a large disaster like Sandy strikes. 

The forth area discussed is claim data reporting.  This goes back to re report card concept.  Essentially, the DFS is saying that the sun will shine on post-disaster claim activity for all to see.  The last area discussed is mediation.  Establishing a mediation program to resolve claims post-disaster is a concept that was used after Sandy and has been used after many disasters. 

By this Circular Letter, the DFS is telling insurers that these and other measures are likely to be seen again when disaster strikes.  Thus, insurance company compliance and readiness to address each of these features and similar programs should probably become part of a carrier's internal disaster plan.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

It's Not Paranoia to Be Prepared to Keep Your Family Safe

Having a plan in the event of a catastrophe can mean the difference between life and death. As it seems that the world has been displaying more viscous behavior as of late, being prepared can help keep your family safe. Having the right equipment on hand can greatly increase the chances of survival as well as reduce some of the stress of the situation. What kind of items should you store in order to prepare for these random events? 1. Water - Water is the most important substance in any situation. Even floods will require you to have fresh water on hand. Contamination of public services can be easily accomplished during a flood and you need to have a method to keep yourself and your family hydrated. There are packets you can buy in bulk that can be stored in your home to be used for just these occasions. They can also double as a method to keep yourself hydrated while out for a bike ride or mountain hike. 2. Medical Supplies - There are many kits you can buy that can be stored in the home in order to be used in emergency situations. Some will go so far as to fill various multipurpose backpacks with medical supplies. Even a slight wound could be dangerous if not treated correctly as infections could easily turn into blood poisoning. 3. Food - Although many people may scoff at those who hoard food in the basement, it is these people who will have an increased chance of survival in the event of a dire emergency. Non-perishables such as canned goods have a very long shelf-life and can mean the difference between starvation and sustainability. It wouldn't hurt to add seeds to this collection of food as well for you never know how long a situation may last. 4. Warmth - Having a method to keep warm is a dire need especially during the winter months. Extra sets of warm clothing and blankets should be kept on hand in the event of a disaster happening during the coldest times of the year. It may not be a bad idea to include a solar heating device as well to your collection. Although they will require intense light to be utilized, they can still help keep yourself and your family warm throughout the day. 5. Communication - In the event of a power outage during an event, you need to have a method of communication. Most survival kits include small radios or even broadcast radios such as those in semi-trucks. Thanks to technology, you can get solar powered or hand-crank radios that don't require additional batteries should they go dead. It may not be a bad idea to have a solar charging unit for your cell phones as well. If the power is off for more than a day, your phones could become useless as there won't be a method to charge them. In an emergency, having the right tools on hand can keep yourself and your family alive. Depending on the situation, the above items could prove to be quite useful. The last thing you want is to be without an important item in case nature decides to rampage across your area. What kind of preparations have you made to protect your family in the event of a crisis situation? This is a guest post by Liz Nelson from WhiteFence.com. She is a freelance writer and blogger from Houston. Questions and comments can be sent to: liznelson17 @ gmail.com.