Hurricane Sandy has prompted some New England and Mid-Atlantic insurance departments to issue bulletins or alerts providing directives for insurers in dealing with this storm and its aftermath.

The Delaware Department, for example, is reminding insurers of the need to activate their disaster response preparation plan or catastrophe plan. These plans include providing timely assistance to insureds. They may include, but not be limited to, the obligation to suspend the cancellation and non-renewal of policies for reasons related to the occurrence of the disaster or catastrophic event and using an expedited and simplified claims process.

The Rhode Island Department of Business Regulation issued Industry Alert 2012-3, in which it declared “Sandy” a catastrophic event for purposes of R.I. Gen. Laws § 27-10-8 and 27-10.1-11. As a result of that declaration, the emergency adjuster and motor vehicle damage appraiser licensing statutes are triggered. The alert also provides guidance on procedures for emergency catastrophe adjusters and motor vehicle damage appraisers and insurer obligations.

Vehicle Damage Appraisal

Rhode Island’s Industry Alert 2012-3, issued on Oct. 26, 2012 in advance of Hurricane Sandy, addresses provisions for servicing policyholder claims in that state using emergency motor vehicle damage appraisers, with specific references to the notice requirements previously included in Insurance Bulletin 2005-14 as well as ongoing notification filings with the Department. That prior Bulletin was last updated on Oct. 4, 2011 and included licensing and/or employment requirements.

To the extent that an insurer intends to use emergency motor vehicle damage appraisers, it should be noted that either one of the following “trigger” events must have occurred:

1. Losses related to an event designated by the Department as a “catastrophic” event. The department will post notice on its website when it designates an event a “catastrophic” event for purposes of triggering the statute.

2. Adjustment of losses in any area declared to be a state of disaster by the governor of the State of Rhode Island or by the President of the United States.

Emergency Licenses

The Rhode Island General Assembly enacted a new section in the Insurance Code, 27-10.1-1.1, titled “Emergency licenses for appraiser” effective June 20, 2012. Consistent with the specific requirements under this section, the commissioner may permit an experienced motor vehicle appraiser to act as a motor vehicle physical damage appraiser in this state without a Rhode Island license if:

1. The appraiser is either a licensed appraiser in another state which requires a license or regularly appraises motor vehicle damage in another state where such licensing is not required and works for an insurance company authorized to do business in Rhode Island; and

2. He or she is engaged in emergency insurance appraisal work during the period of emergency only, as determined by the commissioner.