N.Y. Sandy Victims’ Insurance Checks OK’d, Delayed
|MICHAEL GORMLEY, Associated Press|
The insurance company payments must overcome several bureaucratic hurdles required under state and federal laws as safeguards against fraud when homeowners have mortgages on their properties. But the safeguards also snare people like
"Anyone in this situation will you the same thing: Every day you are fighting," Hall said Tuesday, the 107th day she, her son and her husband have had to live in a hotel because their house is uninhabitable.
She said her insurance company told her in late November the five-figure check would pay for extensive repairs to the first floor of their
Now she makes 40-mile round trips from a
"It's not like I'm going to take the money and run," Hall said. "I'm just going to fix my house and go home."
State Financial Services Superintendent
Much of the delay is because federal mortgage agencies require proof of repair work before paying insurance reimbursements.
Cuomo, a Democrat, said that after insurance companies have sent homeowners checks to pay for repairs, the money shouldn't sit with banks and other lenders because of red tape.
"Servicers need to use maximum discretion to get money into homeowners' hands as quickly as possible," he said.
Lawsky said insurance companies and banks, regulated by his office, are working together to speed the process. Some of that is simply applying more workers to the task. Other steps include electronically transmitting payments rather than sending them through the mail.
Four banks alone _ Wells
"In December, we reached an agreement with the servicers that resulted in freeing up a portion of insurance funds," Lawsky said. "But we are seeing now that the money is still not moving as quickly as homeowners need. While we understand there are some limits on how servicers release funds, we want to make sure that servicers are pushing those limits and getting insurance money out quickly."
The December agreement speeded smaller, emergency repair checks to homeowners. But now larger checks are being issued and companies are being stricter about verifying the repairs. That verification is required by
Lawsky is contacting banks now. He said homeowners who are current on their mortgage payments and suffered only partial losses during Sandy should be subject to less restrictive and time-consuming reviews and approvals.
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