O'Connor, O'Connor, Bresee & First, P.C.
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Insurance industry warns New York of hurricane season

Just as those in New York and other northeastern states have recovered from this winter's brutal snowstorms and blizzards, they are about to enter hurricane season. Summer's unstable weather patterns have the potential to produce violent storms that include hail, driving wind and heavy downpours. Such storms also bring the possibility of damage to homes, cars and businesses. The insurance industry warns residents to check their insurance policies to ensure they understand any exclusions to their coverage.

Standard homeowners' insurance policies typically cover damage caused by the wind of a hurricane or tropical storm. This may include broken windows, roof damage and fallen trees. Rain that enters a house because of this damage may also be covered by a standard policy. Some policies require a homeowner to meet a deductible for hurricane damage.

Coverage for flooding is not usually included in a standard homeowner's policy, and a New York resident may have the option of purchasing a separate policy for this contingency. Some insurers also offer the option of special protection for repairing or rebuilding a hurricane-damaged home if it is older than five years. However, a homeowner who does not take adequate precautions to protect a home from damage -- such as properly sealing doors and windows and inspecting a roof -- may face challenges to his or her claim.

The most important advice the insurance industry gives to home and auto policyholders is to read and understand the coverage in their policies. When a hurricane watch or warning has been issued, it is too late to seek additional coverage. Insurers have no obligation to pay claims for coverage not included in a policy, and they have every right to seek legal assistance in defending against claims of bad faith.

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