Effective February 1, 2017 the consumer advisory paragraph changed with a new Garden City address for the NYS DFS's Long Island office. Pursuant to the Sixteenth Amendment to 11 NYCRR Part 216, the paragraph now reads (new language highlighted):
Should you wish to take this matter up with the New York State Department of Financial Services, you may file with the Department either on its website at http://www.dfs.ny.gov/consumer/fileacomplaint.htm or you may write to or visit the Consumer Assistance Unit, Financial Frauds and Consumer Protection Division, New York State Department of Financial Services, at: One State Street, New York, NY 10004; One Commerce Plaza, Albany, NY 12257; 1399 Franklin Avenue, Garden City, NY 11530; or Walter J. Mahoney Office Building, 65 Court Street, Buffalo, NY 14202.As demonstrated by the claim file materials we continue to receive in my office, a number of New York insurers apparently remain uncertain of what kinds of letters must actually include that advisory paragraph. Under Regulation 64, there are only two kinds of letters that must do so:
- letters "rejecting any element of a claim involving personal property insurance" (11 NYCRR § 216.6[h]); and
- letters explaining or rejecting any element of a claim for auto physical damage (11 NYCRR § 216.7[d]).
Which brings us to letters "rejecting any element of a claim involving personal property insurance", the first type of letter in which the advisory paragraph must be included. A letter rejecting an element of a personal property claim is not:
- an acknowledgement letter;
- an ROR letter;
- a non-waiver agreement;
- a letter written solely to explain personal property coverage or payments;
- a letter forwarding payment to an insured;
- a liability coverage declination letter; or
- every single letter that leaves the insurer's office addressed to an insured or claimant.
The term "personal property insurance" in Section 216.6(h) limits the applicability of subdivision (h) to personal lines property insurance. Thus, subdivision (h) is not applicable to commercial lines property insurance or to liability insurance.Letters rejecting commercial lines property insurance -- no advisory paragraph required.
Letters rejecting (disclaiming/denying) liability coverage -- no advisory paragraph required.
Over the 22+ years that my office has been open I've seen the advisory paragraph included in letters in which it is not required. If you don't care about your consumer complaint ratios, then keep on keeping on. If you question whether the paragraph belongs in a certain letter even after reading the above, email me. We'll figure it out.