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The New York State Insurance Disaster Coalition, which comprises a number of public and private organizations, holds two training exercises based around the scenario of a hurricane hitting the state, and these will improve the response of insurance companies and other coalition members to the 9/11 attacks just weeks later. The Disaster Coalition was recently set up by the State of New York, modeled on the “Partners in Recovery” program established in Florida after Hurricane Andrew struck the state in 1992. The Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS) developed a national program called State Disaster Coalitions that would be responsible for creating long-term partnerships between public and private sector leaders so as to enhance cooperation, communication, and the use of resources after a catastrophic event. New York then became the first state in the US to develop the IBHS State Disaster Coalition model. Its Disaster Coalition includes the New York State Emergency Management Office (SEMO), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the New York Department of Insurance, the New York Insurance Association, and several insurance companies. (Ryland 3/2002; Natural Hazards Research and Applications Information Center, University of Colorado 2003, pp. 449) The Disaster Coalition has developed the “New York State Insurance Disaster Response Plan,” which enables the creation of a new public-private disaster planning team in order to expedite the state’s response to catastrophes and facilitate the recovery of those who have insured losses. (Gregory V. Serio 5/10/2001)
Exercises Consider a Hurricane Striking the State - Members of the Disaster Coalition now participate in two tabletop exercises and technology tests, to assess the program’s readiness and the thoroughness of the program’s strategy. The exercises, which are led by the SEMO, are based around the scenario of a major hurricane hitting Long Island. Participants will subsequently consider both exercises to have been successful. It will be determined that the Disaster Coalition is ready to deal with an emergency, and the necessary infrastructure is in place to implement an effective and unified public-private response to a major catastrophic event in the state.
Coalition's Response Plan Will Be Activated on 9/11 - The Disaster Coalition will play a significant role a few weeks later, following the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. Its representatives will assemble at the Insurance Emergency Operations Center in Albany, where they will work as part of a team on behalf of the victims of the attacks. The New York State Insurance Disaster Response Plan will be activated within two hours of the collapses of the Twin Towers. Despite the unprecedented challenge the attacks present, the financial needs of most victims who file insurance claims will be met. Furthermore, the number of complaints will be unusually low for such a huge catastrophe. Despite nearly 19,000 insurance claims being made, only 20 complaints will be filed.
Plan Will Be Found to Have Improved the Response to the 9/11 Attacks - Disaster Coalition members and insurance catastrophe team leaders will meet two months after the attacks to assess how well their plan functioned throughout the crisis. At the gathering, one insurance company representative will comment that colleagues in his home office had known New York could handle the unprecedented events because the state “had a Disaster Coalition capable of responding in the best way possible under catastrophic conditions.” Commenting on the success of the program, Harvey Ryland, president and CEO of the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety, will write: “It’s hard to think that things could have been worse on September 11, but the lessons learned from [Hurricane] Andrew led the way so that victims could be helped faster and recovery could take place more quickly, through public and private partnership.” (George E. Pataki and Gregory V. Serio 12/31/2001, pp. 12 ; Ryland 3/2002)
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