No Matter What Federal Officials Call Sandy, Hurricane Deductibles Don’t Apply In Connecticut

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Whether Sandy was declared a hurricane or not, Connecticut homeowners would not have paid, and will not pay, higher deductibles.

Why? There were not sustained winds of 74 mph or greater recorded anywhere in the state during the storm. So, it doesn’t matter whether Sandy is deemed a hurricane, a tropical storm, a post-tropical cyclone or anything else, even if it matters elsewhere.

I explained this issue in an article that ran on the front page of The Hartford Courant on Thursday, Nov. 1.

Here is some info:

Hurricane Sandy didn’t serve up sustained hurricane -force winds in Connecticut, despite the storm’s name, and that means that homeowners filing insurance claims will save thousands or more in lower deductibles .

Those savings are the direct result of a state law passed after the experience of homeowners affected by Tropical Storm Irene last year.

Lawmakers passed a measure that says insurers can only require their customers to pay higher hurricane deductibles if the National Weather Service declares that a storm is a hurricane and there are sustained hurricane -force winds of at least 74 mph recorded in the state.

During Sandy, Connecticut had gusts stronger than that, but not 74 mph or higher sustained winds, said Donna Tommelleo, spokeswoman for the Connecticut Insurance Department.

Charging higher deductibles for hurricane -related damage — compared with other natural disasters — is allowed in many coastal states to keep the price of coastal insurance relatively affordable. But homeowners were surprised after Irene and brought their concerns to state lawmakers.

A standard deductible on homeowners insurance is $500 to $1,000, compared with a so-called hurricane deductible of 1 percent to 5 percent of a home’s value.

That’s one piece of good news for the thousands of shoreline homeowners pulling out their insurance paperwork while assessing the damage caused by the storm surge. Those property owners may have to juggle two separate insurance-claim processes — one for wind-related damage that is covered by homeowner’s insurance and another for flood damage.

Anyone with questions or concerns about their insurance can call the state agency that regulates insurance companies, the Connecticut Insurance Department, for assistance from the agency’s consumer affairs unit. Call 800-203-3447 or visit www.ct.gov/cid.

About Matthew Sturdevant

Full-time staff journalist at The Hartford Courant and magazine freelancer with a master's degree in writing from Dartmouth. My work has appeared in The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune, Taiwan News, The Baltimore Sun and many other news sources. My blog has been referenced by Politico.com, the Kaiser Family Foundation, the Georgetown Law Library and a number of organizations in healthcare and business. Sturdevant’s blog is "a well-written wealth of ideas," said The Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism, (businessjournalism.org, May 18, 2011). I have experience writing for newspapers, magazines, Web sites and blogs as well as shooting and editing video. I made regular appearances on news-talk radio and on the NBC affiliate station in Corpus Christi, Texas. I made occasional appearances on the Fox affiliate in Connecticut promoting Hartford Courant articles.

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