Thursday, May 25, 2006

The Latest on Long Island Homeowners and Flood Insurance

Yesterday we had our regular monthly meeting of the Suffolk County Independent Insurance Agents Association. It's a great group of men and women with an extraordinary amount of knowledge and desire to do the best for their clients. The Suffolk board is known throughout the State for being one of the most proactive and thoughtful. You can see more about our activities at www.suffolkagents.com, including our bi-monthly newsletter, which I publish. The articles are written by various members on a rotating basis and cover a wide range of topics.

Yesterday we heard about efforts in the State Legislature to make the New York Property Insurance Underwriting Association (NYPIUA) permanent. NYPIUA is basically a state-owned and operated insurance company that is the carrier of last resort for fire and wind insurance. Most of the homes on Fire Island have come to be insured there, though there has been much movement away from them because coverage is limited, and folks have been building those huge houses over there. Properties in blighted city areas have also made use of NYPIUA.

The problem is that the whole operation is treated as a political football by the legislature. They renew it year by year, or for two years, even though most of them know absolutely that they can't let it run out. Usually it does actually expire at each renewal, as the State Senators horse-trade for votes on other issues. The problem is that NYPIUA is mostly used downstate in city and coastal areas, so the upstate legislators hold their votes hostage to things that they want their downstate counterparts to vote for. It is a bad situation, and it is being made much worse by the current insurance problems.

We also heard about another insurance carrier, a small one this time, who is taking action to cancel all their homeowners policies south of Sunrise Highway, and closing up for new business. As has been said here before, this whole thing is going to get worse before it gets better, unfortunately.