Five days after Tropical Storm Irene the state is beginning to add up the damage. As of Friday afternoon 224 homes were significantly damaged or destroyed and it’s estimated that insurance deductibles could total as much as $100 million, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said.
The $100 million is the cumulative estimated amount of deductibles homeowners could be expected to pay for repairs and damages if there was a hurricane clause in their policies.
“As you know we were hit by a tropical storm, but because of the warnings that triggered those clauses,” it’s possible residents will be asked to pay a percentage of the value of their homes, Malloy said.
As the state continues to have conversations with insurance companies writing homeowners insurance policies they reach agreement with a number of them to waive those deductibles.
“We’ll continue to work with others to see those are waived as well,” Malloy said.
Malloy said Connecticut, as of 2002 had some of the most expensive residences in the country and in some cases twice the value of homes in many other states.
“As I had told you earlier in the week the deductibility issue became very important to me as I realized the possible losses to our citizens. And particularly unfair since we weren’t really hit by a hurricane we were hit by a tropical storm,” Malloy said.
The Insurance Department said not all policies have hurricane deductibles because they are only permitted within the coastal region of the state. And companies that write coastal policies and have hurricane deductibles may have different triggers for when those deductibles are applied.
Earlier this week House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero, R-Norwalk, said shoreline residents were just beginning to file claims and were learning they may not have all the coverage they thought since the hurricane clause was triggered by some policies when the warnings were issued. He said the storm died down by the time it got to Connecticut so they shouldn’t have to pay the higher deductible.
“I believe there is an inequity here that is going to cost a lot of people a lot of money out of pocket because the higher hurricane deductible was triggered when the warnings went out,“ Cafero said. “We are talking about actual damages caused by actual weather conditions.”
Insurance Commissioner Thomas Leonardi said Thursday that his department is more than willing to help homeowners out if they believe the trigger in their policy was not properly applied.
“Those triggers must fall within the limits of the coastal underwriting guidelines in place in the state since 2007 and updated in 2009,“ Leonardi said. “I do not have the authority to make any retroactive changes to those guidelines.”
Cafero said he wants to revisit the legislation during the next legislative session.
And it’s possible many homeowners won’t have to worry about paying that higher deductible. More than a dozen insurance companies have decided voluntarily to waive the higher hurricane deductibles.
Companies that have waived the hurricane deductible: ACE, Fireman’s Fund, Hartford, Liberty Mutual, MiddleOak, Nationwide, New London County Mutual (NLC), Safeco, Tower, Travelers, Utica National, Utica First, and Vermont Mutual.
Companies not applying the hurricane deductibles because triggers were not met: Chubb, Hanover, Kemper, and Peerless.
Meanwhile, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, is amending the pre-landfall declaration to include individual assistance, which will allow citizens to receive money for repairs, displacement costs, and other losses not covered by their insurance policies.