Posted on 21 May 2009
The New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance recently issued an order regarding insurers' disaster response preparation measures. This is an important step in preparing for any natural disaster that could impact the residents and entities in New Jersey. As the 2009 hurricane season nears, the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) is calling for insurers and regulators to redouble their efforts to coordinate and work in cooperation so that residents affected by catastrophic events are well-served.
While hurricanes in the Gulf and wildfires in California often attract national attention, other states and regions also experience significant natural and manmade catastrophes. All of these events, whether well publicized or not, require regulators, legislators, insurers and consumers to work together, learn from the past and plan for the worst case scenario.
As part of this, the department is also in the process of drafting rules that are in part based on models developed by PCI as well as recommendations from its Disaster Response Plan Development Group and Financial Services Sector Working Group.
To assist states in the planning process and offer workable options in rulemaking process, PCI developed its “Regulators Kit,” which offers a solid foundation for regulatory action in light of difficult challenges presented during a catastrophic event. The Regulators Kit contains model rules addressing the establishment of an insurance emergency operations center, disaster claims reporting requirements, cancellation and non-renewal criteria, conditions for suspension of premium payments and mediation of disputed claims.
“As a matter of practice, insurers develop and maintain disaster response preparation plans,” said Richard Stokes, regional manager and counsel for PCI. “Insurers routinely review their catastrophe response strategies and update technology to better serve policyholders. Additionally, it is important for states to have rules and a set of bulletins and regulations in place that are designed to ensure that marketplace continues to work well for consumers.”
Significant sections of the PCI model regulations have proven effective in high-impact states such as Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, New York and Texas.
“Insurers want to work with state regulators to prepare for the heightened state of readiness that is required to respond to an emergency,” said Stokes. “Preparation and response can make the difference in protecting the residents and serve as a catalyst in rebuilding disaster-stricken communities.”