A look at statistics showing how the insurance industry fared in consumer class action settlements.
NATIONAL HARBOR, Md., Dec. 2 -- The Property Casualty Insurers Association of America issued the following news release:
In advance of Sunday's public hearing on catastrophe issues at the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) Fall Meeting, the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) is highlighting the strong role the insurance industry is playing in helping residents recover from Superstorm Sandy.
"Our industry has been there, and will continue to be there, for coastal residents who suffered losses as a result of Sandy," said Dave Snyder, PCI's vice president, who will be attending Sunday's hearing. "Insurers deployed thousands of specially trained catastrophe response professionals to the disaster area within 24-hours of the storm's landfall to ensure policyholders were able to begin the recovery process as soon as possible. Many insurers have deployed mobile claims units, or set up temporary locations where customers can report claims, submit claim information and receive advances for temporary living expenses or emergency repairs to preserve their damaged property. And insurers have used any means necessary to reach out to their customers, including electronic contact where possible, development of Storm Sandy portals on websites for consumer awareness, flying banners along the coast line with toll-free numbers, promoting use of company app via smart phones and online claim reporting through company websites. We are leaving no stone unturned in an effort to serve our policyholders."
Claim adjusters are doing their best to expedite the adjustment and settlement of claims.
"Due to the tight supply of hotel rooms, adjusters often must commute long distances to get to the affected areas," Snyder said. "Despite these logistical issues, one key statistic that stands out is that there have been more than 330,000 claims filed in New York, and the consumer complaint rate at this time is 0.23 percent. While we certainly intend to work with all policyholders to reach satisfactory outcomes, there is no question that in the overwhelming majority of cases, the property casualty insurance industry is doing its job and doing it well."
As the industry continues to work diligently to adjust and settle claims, there are also things that policyholders can do to help in the process.
"Policyholders can assist in the timely settlement of claims by promptly responding to requests for additional information from adjusters," Snyder said. "Consumers who promptly supply home inventories of personal property, receipts, contractor repair estimates, and any other requested information will help expedite the claims process."
In addition to helping get policyholders back on their feet, they are also working to protect consumers from further issues. For example, there is always the concern that flood-damaged vehicles may be sold to unsuspecting buyers.
"Consumers should be aware that a number of flood-damaged vehicles may be offered for sale in the aftermath of Post-Tropical Cyclone Sandy," Snyder said. "These vehicles may have significant mechanical problems with their electrical systems. Car buyers are well advised to order a vehicle history report in order to make an informed decision before buying a used car. PCI and the industry have worked with motor vehicle departments to set up expedited processing of salvage titles in order to speed up the claims process and properly brand the titles of flooded vehicles."
PCI is also striving to protect coastal residents when future storms hit by working with state governments on strengthening building codes and also finding ways to encourage residents to buy flood insurance, which is sold separately from standard homeowners' policies.
"Hurricane Irene and Post-Tropical Cyclone Sandy have drawn attention to the need for strong, uniform statewide building codes and responsible land use policies," Snyder said. "All coastal states benefit by periodically reviewing and updating their respective building code. PCI regularly partners with the Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS) to identify and support legislation that will strengthen building codes. Strong building codes promote public safety by reducing the risk of injury or death during a natural catastrophe and reduce the property damage as a result of a natural catastrophe to allow a community to quickly recover after a disaster."
To help reduce or prevent future losses, PCI urges strong and effective mitigation measures and public information by government, and the allowance of risk-based pricing. This is consistent with an important international initiative on Disaster Risk Management, in which PCI participated, that was recently approved by the G20.
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