UPDATE 1-Governors warn insurers: Don't charge hurricane deductibles
(Recasts; final paragraph adds North Carolina's policy on hurricane deductibles)
By Beth Pinsker Gladstone
NEW YORK Nov 1 (Reuters) - The governors of New York, New Jersey and other states have warned insurance companies not to charge hurricane deductibles costing tens of thousands of dollars to homeowners who file claims for damage from Sandy because the massive storm was labeled a "post-tropical storm" by the time it hit land.
Many homeowners have already filed insurance claims in the wake of Sandy. While hurricane deductible clauses are written in various ways, many designate a higher deductible to be paid for named storms designated hurricanes, said Robert Hunter, director of insurance for the Consumer Federation of America.
While a typical homeowner policy has a deductible of a flat fee like $500 or $1,000, hurricane deductibles are a percentage of total home value, typically 1 to 5 percent. A $400,000 shore house, with a 5 percent deductible, would have out-of-pocket costs of $20,000.
"Homeowners should not have to pay hurricane deductibles for damage caused by the storm and insurers should understand the Department of Financial Services will be monitoring how claims are handled," New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a statement issued late Wednesday.
New Jersey, where the storm first made official landfall, said the hurricane deductible would not apply. The change in the storm's designation to post-tropical cyclone just before hitting the barrier islands, "will save a lot of people a lot of money," said Ed Rogan, spokesman for the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance.
Connecticut made a similar announcement, as did other states. The Maryland Insurance Administration said in a statement: "The National Weather Service did not issue hurricane warnings for any Maryland counties. Therefore, percentage deductibles will not apply to homeowners policies in Maryland for damage caused by the October 29-30 storm."
On the other hand, some states affected by Sandy will allow hurricane deductibles to come into play. In North Carolina, for instance, Sandy was still a hurricane when it passed by the state, said Kerry Hall, spokesperson for the North Carolina Department of Insurance. "Secondly, North Carolina policies use named-storm deductibles instead of hurricane deductibles." (Additional reporting by Ashley Lau; Editing by Dan Grebler; Follow us @ReutersMoney or here. Reporting by Linda Stern.)