Assembly Passes Legislative Package to Expand and Amend Insurance Coverage for Severe Weather Events

Speaker Carl Heastie and Insurance Committee Chair David Weprin today announced the passage of several bills designed to help homeowners prepare for severe weather events and expand insurance coverage to better support recovery efforts.

“Unfortunately, due to climate change, severe weather events are becoming more commonplace across the state,” said Speaker Heastie. “These bills will expand coverage to homeowners and help them prepare for the future as we continue to fight against climate change in New York.”

“This is a much-needed next step to expand coverage, keep premiums affordable and keep New Yorkers covered,” said Assemblymember Weprin. “This package also allows us to research alternatives to our current system to better understand affordability issues and how we can build a better system to support the future of insurance in New York.”

Included in this package is a bill that would direct the Department of Financial Services (DFS) to conduct a study to examine any increases in property insurance premiums that may affect the affordability of property insurance coverage, any lack of availability of property insurance coverage for losses from flooding and the possibility of supporting a private flood insurance market in New York (A.8942, Weprin).

Additional legislation passed requires DFS to implement the homeowner natural disaster preparedness, home safety and loss prevention program authorized in the Enacted State Fiscal Year (SFY) 2016-2017 Budget (A.136-A, Cruz).

“This program provides an incredible overview of what homeowners and renters need to do to prepare their home for severe weather events, while providing a possible incentive of lowered insurance premiums” said Assemblymember Catalina Cruz. “This bill will require DFS to approve educational courses that will

provide useful information to policyholders on the courses of action that can be taken before, during and after the occurrence of a natural disaster, strategies to reduce risk exposure, and information about the installation of equipment and devices to homes that can help to mitigate damage. Providing this information is essential to ensure homeowners and renters are prepared for severe weather.”

Also included in this package is a bill that expands eligibility for the Coastal Market Assistance program (C-MAP) to properties located within one mile of a salt-water ocean, sound, bay and inlet, as well as Lake Erie, Lake Ontario, the Saint Lawrence River, the Niagara River and more as determined by the New York Property Insurance Underwriting Association (A.9821, Otis).

“It is vitally important that our laws keep pace with the increased frequency and reach of damaging storms,” said Assemblymember Steve Otis. “Coastal communities deserve the benefit of expanded access to insurance coverage and our continued focus on making shoreline infrastructure more resilient to storm events. The Assembly continues to take a leadership role in addressing these needs.”

This package also includes a bill to authorize the sale of “parametric insurance”, which provides a set payment amount to policyholders based on the magnitude and proximity of a severe weather event to their insured property (A.10344, Sillitti).

“As the severity of our storms becomes more and more intense, insurance companies may not want to take the risk to cover residences in risky areas, like our coastal communities.” said Assemblymember Gina Sillitti. “Authorizing the sale of innovative insurance products such as parametric insurance will help fill the gap and provide residents the coverage they need at an affordable rate.”

Lastly, legislation in this package provides homeowners further coverage for water damage from backed-up sewers or sump pumps by prohibiting insurance policies from excluding coverage for damage covered under a policy on the ground that the damage was caused directly or indirectly by a peril that is excluded from the policy, such as flooding (A.10343, Weprin).