Commentary: Strengthening insurance coverage to protect homeowners
In recent years, our state has had its fair share of natural disasters. From last year’s Tropical Storm Irene and October nor’easter to this year’s Hurricane Sandy, Connecticut residents have had to deal with power outages, flooding and damage to our homes.
Following these challenging events, emergency preparedness and response have been a major focus of the legislature.
Insurance can make the difference
When making repairs to our homes, vehicles and other property, an insurance policy can make all the difference during what can often be an expensive and stressful recovery period.
Currently, I serve as the ranking senator of the Insurance and Real Estate Committee, which has oversight of all matters relating to insurance and real estate laws. As part of this committee, I have been working to make sure that insurance companies provide good services for our state’s residents.
During this year’s session, the committee voted to send more than 50 different bills for further consideration to other committees or to the floor of the House of Representatives or the Senate.
Inconsistent repairs are an issue
Imagine if during Tropical Storm Irene, a tree fell on your garage. You call the insurance company to repair your garage roof and find out it will only pay to put new shingles on the half of the roof that was damaged but not the whole roof, so that half of your roof will look new and half will be old and faded.
Or imagine if during Hurricane Sandy, the siding on your house was damaged and the insurance company tells you they can’t repair your home with the same siding or color so that the side of your home looks like a quilt.
Proposed bill would change this
I would like to highlight one of these bills that, if passed and signed into law by the governor, would help state residents recover after storm damage. In early March, the committee held a public hearing in New Haven to gather input on House Bill 6380, An Act Concerning Property and Casualty Insurance Policies and Home Improvement Contractors.
This bill would make several changes to current law in an effort to protect consumers who rely on insurance coverage to repair their property after a storm or other event causes damage.
The bill would require personal and commercial risk insurance policies to provide for a covered loss that requires repair or replacement of damaged items, parts, components or materials to make the necessary repairs to match the composition, color, texture, size or quality.
It would also regulate the ability of insurance companies to decline, cancel or not renew a homeowner’s insurance policy or to increase premiums because of a covered loss.
Repairs should match
When making repairs, insurance coverage often makes available only certain materials that do not match well with the siding, paint or other damaged material. Therefore, in an effort to avoid this inconvenience for homeowners, this bill would require insurance companies to provide for repairs that would match the rest of the affected section.
Over the next several months, the legislature will continue to review and consider a wide array of proposals that are intended to improve the quality of life in our state. Some of these will include changes to the laws affecting insurance coverage.
HB 6380 now awaits further action on the floor of the House of Representatives. If you would like to learn more about this and other proposals, visit the Insurance and Real Estate Committee website at www.cga.ct.gov/ins.
State Sen. Kevin Kelly, a Republican, represents the 21st District that includes Shelton as well as Monroe, Seymour and Stratford.