Letter to the editor: It’s time to fix windstorm coverage in N.Y. insurance policies

November 29, 2022

Dear Editor,

As we look at the damage caused by Hurricane Ian in Florida and South Carolina—and prepare for the possible damage caused by Hurricane Nicole—we say our prayers and think about how New Yorkers would fair in this type of disaster. The answer lies within each homeowners insurance policy’s definition of windstorm deductible.

In New York state, homeowners insurance policies have one definition for fire, and one definition for vandalism, etc. However, while the National Weather Service has a clear definition of a hurricane, the insurance industry uses over 100 definitions to determine when a policy’s windstorm deductible applies. Which definition your policy uses will depend on your insurance company. If the windstorm wind speed doesn’t meet the definition of windstorm outlined in the policy, you will be covered after you pay your standard deductible. However, if the storm meets the definition—due to the speed of the storm—your deductible is 5% of Coverage A Dwelling limit. This could be tens of thousands of dollars. For example: If your home is valued at $500,000, your 5% windstorm deductible is $25,000.

Here’s the problem: If your neighbors have policies with different insurance companies, they may only have to pay their standard deductible.

What we need in New York state is a standard windstorm deductible clause—so all homeowners are treated the same.

The solution: Establish a standard definition for the windstorm deductible. Defining windstorm for the purposes of insurance coverage would not upend the underwriting of coastal homeowners policies for carriers. Instead, it would make it easier for New Yorkers to understand what a windstorm deductible really means.

Ask your elected officials if they will be a part of the solution. Last legislative session, a bill that would standardize the windstorm definition passed in the state Assembly, but it did not pass in the state Senate. If you have any questions about the windstorm deductible or other insurance matters, please contact your professional insurance agent.

Sincerely,

Gary Slavin

President-elect, Professional Insurance Agents of New York State Inc.

Insurance Agent, MassMutual, Massapequa, N.Y.

Berkshire Hathaway Guard Insurance Companies protecting your business and employees with their Workers' Compensation.

About the author…

Gary Slavin

Gary entered the insurance industry as a claims examiner. His desire to help people in designing insurance coverages prompted him to get his broker’s license and earned his CIC designation in 2002. To continue guiding his clients, Gary received his series 6, 63 and 7 licenses. Reach him at gslavin@financialguide.com.

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