Cuomo threatens slow-acting insurers on behalf of storm-affected homeowners

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Governor Andrew Cuomo announced new regulations to help homeowners rebuild and settle claims with their insurance companies faster.

At a press conference in his Midtown office, Cuomo said the state will publish a "report card on insurance companies" grading them for how they handling the approximately 300,000 claims stemming from Hurricane Sandy.

Cuomo said if the insurance companies botch the claims, it will be reflected in the grade, and if enough problems are reported, the state will reconsider whether to allow those specific insurance companies to operate in the state.

The threat was similar in tone, at least, to the one Cuomo made against some utility companies following the storm.

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"They will be held accountable for their performance," Cuomo said, referring to the insurers.

Among the rules changes Cuomo announced today was a reduction in the amount of time an adjuster has before visiting the site of a claim. It was 15 business days, now it will be six. Cuomo said there will be a $1,000 fine for each instance than an adjuster is late.

Cuomo also announced that homeowners can proceed with emergency repairs related to heat, hot water and electricity and submit the receipts after the fact to the insurance companies for reimbursement.

An hour earlier on Staten Island, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Council Speaker Christine Quinn announced that the city will push back the date of the next property tax bill for homeowners affected by the storm. The due date is now April, pushed back from January.

Bloomberg also said he wanted to reimburse homeowners a portion of the tax bill they already paid this year, to reflect more closely the post-hurricane value of their homes. That maneuver, Bloomberg said, required approval from state lawmakers.