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Insurance Companies Waive Higher-Cost Hurricane Deductibles in Connecticut for Irene Claims

Source: The Day

Posted on 06 Sep 2011

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Seventeen insurance companies, including the New London County Mutual Insurance Co., that represent nearly 70 percent of the state's homeowners market have agreed to waive higher-cost "hurricane deductibles" for Tropical Storm Irene damage, Connecticut's administration said Friday.

"Failure to do this would result in many homeowners paying tens of thousands of dollars out-of-pocket," Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said in a joint statement with Insurance Commissioner Thomas Leonardi.

Although Irene was classified as a tropical storm when it hit Connecticut Sunday, the hurricane deductible clause kicked in on some homeowner policies once the National Weather Service issued hurricane warnings earlier in the week.

Such deductibles limit insurance companies' exposure in high-risk coastal areas by requiring homeowners to pay for a larger share of the damage.

Most policies have $500 to $1,000 deductibles for a storm, meaning the homeowner pays for damage up to that amount and the insurance carrier pays the rest. Hurricane deductibles are based on a percentage of a home's insured value, usually up to 5 percent, and result in much higher costs for homeowners.

Malloy said his administration has been working closely with the insurance industry in the wake of Irene.

Some carriers never invoked the deductibles because their policy triggers weren't met. But at least five agreed to drop the deductibles even though their policy language permitted them, officials said.

"I applaud those companies who are waiving the deductible and commend them for taking this tremendous step of corporate goodwill," Malloy said.

A spokeswoman for the state Department of Insurance declined to identify the companies that haven't waived hurricane deductibles, saying that discussions are ongoing.

Leonardi said the state's underwriting guidelines that pertain to hurricane deductibles "will be changed and tightened" in the future.
State officials have yet to divulge a total estimate of the damage caused by Irene. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has so far identified 244 homes destroyed or severely damaged in the storm.

Officials identified the other 16 insurance companies waiving the deductibles as ACE, Chubb, Fireman's Fund, Hanover, The Hartford, Kemper, Liberty Mutual, MiddleOak, Nationwide, Peerless, Safeco, Tower, Travelers, Utica National, Utica First and Vermont Mutual.