PIANY-top priority windstorm bill passes N.Y. Legislature: A triumph for consumers, agents

June 6, 2024

In a significant legislative achievement, the New York state Senate has passed S.4199, which would establish a standardized definition of windstorm for homeowners insurance policies. This bill was the top legislative priority for PIANY for the 2024 session. The same-as bill previously passed the state Assembly in March.

PIANY’s tireless advocacy: The driving force behind S.4199

The passage of S.4199 is a testament to the relentless advocacy of PIANY and its members. This year, the association set a goal to standardize the definition of windstorm, recognizing its crucial impact on consumer protection. The association’s leadership and staff met with over 20 state senators, highlighting the inconsistencies and financial risks posed by the current patchwork of over 100 different windstorm definitions approved by the New York State Department of Financial Services. PIANY members participated in several grassroots letter writing campaigns throughout the legislative session educating their local senators about the benefits of a single definition.

The dedicated efforts of your association led to a remarkable 1,000% increase in the number of co-sponsors for the bill—including all the senators from Long Island. This strategic engagement and robust lobbying ensured that legislators understood the critical need for a uniform definition of windstorm, which would align New York with neighboring states like New Jersey and Connecticut.

The importance of standardizing windstorm definitions

Differences in the definition of windstorm can cost homeowners thousands of dollars in the event of a wind-related claim. Currently, there is no standard definition of windstorm. In fact, the DFS has approved over 100 definitions of windstorm. These varying definitions can result in significant discrepancies in deductible amounts—especially during claims for windstorm damage.

Insurance companies often include hurricane windstorm deductibles in homeowners policies, which are higher than standard deductibles and are usually a percentage of the home’s replacement cost. For example, instead of a standard $1,000 deductible, a hurricane windstorm deductible might be 5% of the home’s replacement cost, leading to a $25,000 deductible for a $500,000 home. This variability makes it difficult for homeowners to understand their financial exposure.

Benefits of a uniform definition

A uniform definition of hurricane windstorm will provide clearer guidance to consumers regarding their exposure to windstorm risks. Simplifying these definitions will help consumers focus on comparing premiums and deductibles without the added complexity of varying definitions. It also positions insurance agents, companies, and local leaders to better understand and manage situations after a hurricane without needing to review individual policy definitions.

PIANY extends its gratitude to Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer-Amato, D-23, and Sen. James Sanders Jr., D-10, the sponsors of A.2866/S.4199, for their unwavering support in this legislative endeavor. The legislation now will go to Gov. Kathy Hochul for her consideration.

PIANY remains committed to advocating for consumer protections and industry improvements, ensuring that policies are clear and equitable for all New Yorkers.

Get involved

If you want to get involved with PIANY’s legislative and advocacy work, there are many ways to engage with the association:

  • watch your PIA Northeast publications and PIA Northeast’s social-media channels for important New York updates, and share them with your followers.

Additional resources

N.Y.: Do you know what a hurricane is (for insurance purposes)?

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

Bradford J. Lachut, Esq.
PIA Northeast

Bradford J. Lachut, Esq., joined PIA as government affairs counsel for the Government & Industry Affairs Department in 2012 and then, after a four-month leave, he returned to the association in 2018 as director of government & industry affairs responsible for all legal, government relations and insurance industry liaison programs for the five state associations. Prior to PIA, Brad worked as an attorney for Steven J. Baum PC, in Amherst, and as an associate attorney for the law office of James Morris in Buffalo. He also spent time serving as senior manager of government affairs as the Buffalo Niagara Partnership, a chamber of commerce serving the Buffalo, N.Y., region, his hometown. He received his juris doctorate from Buffalo Law School and his Bachelor of Science degree in Government and Politics from Utica College, Utica, N.Y. Brad is an active Mason and Shriner.

Related stories…

Share This