New Annual Flood Notice Required
On August 31, 2008, a recent amendment to Insurance Law § 3444 goes into effect, requiring insurers to provide their policyholders with a flood insurance disclosure notice on an annual basis.
Prior to the amendment, the law required insurers to provide their home-owners and dwelling fire personal lines policyholders with the notice - which deals with the flood loss exclusion and availability of the federal program - when the policy was issued.
Following concern about consumer’s potential ignorance of the lack of flood coverage, the Legislature amended the Insurance Law to require the notice be provided when the policy is issued, and when the policy is renewed.
The Insurance Department issued Circular Letter No. 18 (2008) on August 13, 2008, which now sets forth the specific requirements for the Flood Insurance Notice. To ensure compliance with the amended Insurance Law § 3444, the Insurance Department requires that an insurer issue an annual notice to all homeowner and dwelling fire insureds, which contains an explanation that:(i) the policies do not provide coverage for loss caused by flood or mudslide, and (ii) flood insurance is available under separate policies issued pursuant to the National Flood Insurance Program. The notice must contain information regarding flood insurance eligibility and access, and must be worded so that it does not alarm insureds, or encourage them to purchase unnecessary coverage.
The Insurance Department has indicated that insurers may use either the Department’s prescribed disclosure notice, or a similar notice that has been filed and approved by the Department. For those insurers electing to use the Department’s notice, it contains the following text:
Important Flood Insurance Notice
Your homeowners or dwelling policy does NOT provide coverage for loss caused by flood or mudslide, which is defined, in part, by the National Flood Insurance Program as:
A general and temporary condition of partial or complete inundation of normally dry land areas from overflow of inland or tidal waters or from the unusual and rapid accumulation or runoff of surface waters from any source.
If you are required by your mortgage lender to have flood insurance on your property, or if you feel that your property is susceptible to flood damage, insurance covering damage from flood is available on most buildings and contents in participating communities through the National Flood Insurance Program.
Information about flood insurance and whether your community participates in the program can be obtained from your insurance company, from your insurance agent/broker, or directly from the National Flood Insurance Program by calling 1-800-638-6620 or via their website at http://www.floodsmart.gov.
If you require further information regarding the information presented in this Legal Alert and its impact on your organization, please contact any of the members of the Practice Area.