Connecticut Asks Insurers: Waive Some Storm Deductibles

September 6, 2011

Connecticut is negotiating with several insurance companies to waive hurricane policy deductibles for coastal homeowners whose properties were damaged or destroyed by Tropical Storm Irene, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said Friday.

More than 163,000 electric customers in the state remained without power Friday afternoon, and Malloy said 244 homes had been deemed to be destroyed or damaged beyond repair by Sunday’s drenching storm.

State officials also had calculated at least $16 million in damage to public property, though Malloy said he expected the figure to grow.

There was no firm estimate by Friday afternoon on the total damage to privately owned property, but it’s expected to be substantial enough to trigger federal disaster aid in at least seven of the state’s eight counties, he said.

On Friday night, President Barack Obama signed a disaster declaration making federal funding available for five Connecticut counties. The Federal Emergency Management Agency said damage assessments are continuing, and more counties could receive assistance.

Malloy said at least five companies that write insurance policies in Connecticut had already agreed by Friday to waive deductibles for the hurricane coverage portions of coastal homeowners’ policies.

Those deductibles are often calculated as percentages of homes’ market values, potentially requiring residents to pay thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket costs before the hurricane coverage kicks in.

Malloy did not immediately name the insurers, but he said that several are major players in the market and that state officials were trying to persuade others to follow suit.

The state Insurance Department’s preliminary review of market values, claim histories and other information suggested the combined out-of-pocket costs to the homeowners with hurricane coverage on their policies could be up to $100 million without the deductible waivers, he said.

Two deaths in Connecticut have been attributed to Irene, which had been a hurricane and was downgraded to a tropical storm before it hit southern New England. The storm churned north and left in its wake heavy flooding and downed trees, including many that damaged power lines and complicated crews’ efforts to restore power.

Almost 163,000 customers of Connecticut electricity providers remained without power Friday afternoon, down from a peak of 830,000 after the storm.

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal and Rep. Joe Courtney, whose district includes the hard-hit eastern portion of the state, have criticized Connecticut Light & Power for what they consider poor preparation and response to the storm.

Asked on Friday if the state would step in and investigate, Malloy said that the immediate priority was to ensure everyone was safe and that electricity is restored as quickly as possible to those still in the dark.

“I think there is plenty of time to look at those things (later),” he said. “These things will all play themselves out.”

Connecticut Light & Power president Jeffrey Butler said Friday that crews will continue working all weekend, including on the Labor Day holiday. CL&P and United Illuminating have said they hope to make significant progress over the next few days toward restoring all customers’ power.

Route 72 in Bristol was the only state-controlled road that remained closed to traffic Friday because of storm and flooding damage, Malloy said, and he announced that the federal government was giving $1 million to Connecticut to help cover transportation-related repairs.

Customers were still being advised to boil their water if their supply came from one of 144 small providers, most of which use congregate wells for condominium complexes, mobile home parks and other small developments.

Malloy said the vast majority of state residents get their drinking water from regional services and aren’t affected by those boil water orders.

Water, ice, baby food and other amenities were still being passed out at East Hartford’s Rentschler Field on Friday, but those operations were being shifted to a United Technologies Corp. building so the football field could be prepared for Saturday’s University of Connecticut home opening football game against Fordham University.

Malloy said he also planned to visit eastern Connecticut towns again Saturday to check the progress of repairs and electricity restoration work.

Was this article valuable?

Here are more articles you may enjoy.