NYSID Opens Hotline for Blackout Victims

August 18, 2003

New York’s Superintendent of Insurance Gregory V. Serio announced that the Insurance Department is available to help New Yorkers whose property or businesses were affected by the blackout in the Northeast last week.

“Consumers are encouraged to call the Insurance Department’s statewide toll-free emergency hotline for assistance with any blackout-related inquiries or complaints,” said the announcement. The Department’s Disaster Hotline, toll-free 1-800-339-1759, will be staffed from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. throughout this week by insurance experts from the Department’s Consumer Services Bureau.

The bulletin reminded New Yorkers with damaged property and interrupted business operations that they “should be contacting their individual insurer representatives as soon as possible.” It also advised New Yorkers to make “every effort to protect their homes and businesses from further damage, such as electrical surges upon restoration of service.”

The NYSID urged homeowners and business operators to review their policies for important information related to electric disruption. It noted that while homeowners coverage for power failure is generally excluded in a homeowners policy, there may be coverage available for damage occurring during the restoration of electricity. “Similarly, commercial property policies generally exclude coverage for power or utility service failure if the failure occurs outside of the premises. There may also be waiting periods in policies before business interruption coverage is triggered.”

It also stressed the importance for property owners to confer with their agents to determine the extent of coverage available, and indicated that further information would be provided on the NYSID’s Web site at: www.ins.state.ny.us. – assuming of course that there are no more power failures.

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