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New York State gets tough on Sandy insurers

An aerial view shows a house pushed into marshland almost a month after the Oakwood neighborhood in the Staten Island borough of New York wa
An aerial view shows a house pushed into marshland almost a month after the Oakwood neighborhood in the Staten Island borough of New York wa

NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York State has told its financial watchdog to investigate three insurance companies for dragging their heels when it comes to processing claims for damage caused by Superstorm Sandy that slammed the region last October.

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a statement that consumer complaints against Narragansett Bay Insurance Company, Tower Insurance Company and Kingstone Insurance Company received by the state's Department of Financial Services have been "much higher than average."

"We have been working with the insurance industry to streamline the rules and thank the companies who have responded," Cuomo said in the statement. "But we won't tolerate insurers not doing what homeowners paid them to do."

The insurance companies are being investigated for not sending adjusters or processing claims quickly enough, and not making their representatives available to homeowners, the statement said.

The storm caused around $40 billion of damage in New York State. Loss of property tax revenues, emergency funds, and hefty repair bills have put an additional strain on the stretched municipal finances throughout the state, despite aid from the federal government.

The statement said that policyholders of Narragansett Bay, which is backed by billionaire financier George Soros, complained they could not reach adjusters or that adjusters did not arrive for scheduled appointments.

Complaints against Tower Insurance, whose parent company is Nasdaq listed Tower Group Inc, suggested the company regularly failed to send adjusters to inspect damage, denied claims over the telephone without an adjuster visit, and delayed other claims without justification.

The statement said complaints against Kingstone centered on the company's failure to send adjusters, and failing to conduct comprehensive inspections. The company also denied wind damage claims, disputed settlement amounts, and delayed settlement, according to complaints.

None of the three insurance companies could be immediately reached for comment.

(Reporting By Edward Krudy; editing by Gunna Dickson)

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