Editor’s Note: A big thank you goes out to Pat Wirth, AOCA president, for her help compiling this checklist for operators affected by the hurricane. To everyone affected by Superstorm Sandy, the staff at NOLN is thinking about you. Please keep us updated if your business was affected and how you are handling the recovery. We would like to feature operators in an upcoming issue. You can email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Automotive Oil Change Association recently released valuable information for operators who have been affected by Superstorm Sandy.
- File timely insurance claims for potential property damage and interrupted business.
- If you are going to seek insurance coverage for property damage, make sure the insurance company gets to inspect the damages before undertaking major repairs.
- Check with your state insurance department before paying any hurricane-related deductibles because most affected states have officially banned such charges.
- Check and re-check aboveground oil storage to ensure containment of oil.
- In the event of an oil spill or release, follow your SPCC plan!
- Check post-flood underground storage tank stability (applies to buried tanks).
- “Act of God” defenses rarely work in pollution scenarios, so it is important to be proactive in preventing and/or minimizing disaster-induced releases.
- Demand proof of credentials from anyone who claims to be from or associated with FEMA or any other government entity. Most states are warning against scam artists posing as government agents.
NEW JERSEY DISASTER CLEANUP & GENERAL ASSISTANCE INFORMATION
In New Jersey, fast lube operators can get hurricane cleanup updates and information on insurance/FEMA options at http://www.nj211.org/Hurricane.FEMA.cfm or by calling 211. To help New Jersey residents as they clean up homes and businesses after Hurricane Sandy, the Department of Health has public health experts available through the state’s 2-1-1- system to answer questions about food and water safety, and mold removal. In addition, the Mental Health Association in New Jersey is offering assistance through a toll-free Disaster Mental Health Helpline: 1.877.294.HELP (4357). A TTY line is available for persons who are deaf and hearing impaired at 1.877.294.4356. This is not a joke. There’s a reason hurricanes are called disasters. Get help if you need it.
NEW INSURANCE RIGHTS FOR NEW JERSEY CITIZENS
Governor Christie signed Executive Order 107 on Nov. 2, which mandates the following:
- In light of the National Weather Service’s categorization of Sandy as a post-tropical storm, it shall be a violation of N.J.A.C. 11:2-42.7 for any insurer to apply a mandatory or optional insurance hurricane deductible to the payment of claims for property damage attributable to Sandy.
- All insurers, banks, savings and loans, mortgage bankers and brokers, insurance producers, real estate brokers, and any other person or entity subject to licensure or regulation by the Department shall take into consideration the difficulties related to Sandy that all citizens of the State continue to suffer and therefore exercise appropriate forbearances on collection, cancellation, documentation and other regulatory requirements, including, but not limited to: notifications of hospital admissions; due dates for claim filings, premium and loan payments and late fees; prior authorization requirements; and limitations on prescription refills.
- All authorized and admitted property and casualty insurers subject to licensure or regulation by the Department may make first- or third-party claim payments for claims related to Sandy by methods other than those permitted by N.J.A.C. 11:2-17.8(k), such as prepaid debit cards, electronic transfer or other comparable alternative payment method, but only: (a) where the claimant agrees to receive a claim payment by an alternative payment method; (b) if the alternate payment method is not subject to any fees that would result in the insured receiving less than the full amount due; (c) if the insured is permitted, at any time, to convert any balance to cash; and (d) if the claimant is notified of applicable terms and conditions.
- The Commissioner of the Department of Banking and Insurance is directed to take all appropriate steps to effectuate this Order.
NEW YORK DISASTER CLEANUP & GENERAL ASSISTANCE INFORMATION
In New York, fast lube operators can get updates on the latest disaster-related information at www.dec.ny.gov/public/76659.html or by calling 1.888.769.7243.
New York Department of Environmental Protection Extends Temporary Suspension of Water Discharge Permit Required to assist Homeowners and Businesses Pumping Water from Flooded Properties. To assist in the recovery from Hurricane Sandy, the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is extending the suspension of permitting requirements for businesses and homeowners seeking to discharge water from flooded properties into the city’s sewer system. This suspension period is extended until November 20.
This action applies only to flood-related discharges where an expedited response is needed. If water contains significant recoverable material, such as fuel oil floating on water, that could cause significant environmental damage, all reasonable measures should be taken to collect and properly dispose of the material prior to pumping out the structure. Where a significant spill has occurred, the owner or operator must report the spill to the New York State Spill Hotline (1.800.457.7362) and use environmental contractors to handle, treat and dispose of such substances properly prior to discharging into the city sewer system. Contractors who collect and dispose of released petroleum or hazardous substances must comply with all requirements for the handling, treatment and disposal of the collected materials.
NEW YORK HOMEOWNERS NOT SUBJECT TO HURRICANE DEDUCTIBLES
On Oct. 31, Governor Cuomo announced that homeowners will not have to pay hurricane deductibles. The New York Department of Financial Services has activated a Disaster Hotline to answer consumer questions and help with problems. The Disaster Hotline number is 800.339.1759. It is staffed Monday-Friday from 8 a.m.-8 p.m. and Saturday-Sunday from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Anyone needing to file a complaint against an insurance company for violating this prohibition is encouraged to file at http://www.dfs.ny.gov/consumer/fileacomplaint.htm