Monday, June 21, 2010
Our state continues to face unprecedented challenges from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. As your CFO, I am especially concerned with the economic and environmental impacts on Florida, and have been active in demanding a better response from BP while also urging state and federal officials to provide immediate relief to affected businesses.
As we navigate through this disaster, my office stands ready to help and in this special edition of eViews we’ve pulled together a list of resources to help Floridians get the assistance they need. My Consumer Services division is also available at 1-877-MY-FL-CFO or (850) 413-3089 to help with questions or to provide assistance in filing a claim.
Please be assured that I will continue standing up for our small businesses and coastal communities and will not stop until affected Floridians finally receive the assistance – and reimbursements – they deserve.
State of Florida
Florida CFO Alex Sink is encouraging Florida’s coastal businesses to prepare to make loss-of-earnings claims for damages incurred as a result of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
The two primary concerns from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill are property damage and loss of earnings due to business interruption.
Outlined below are some helpful tips to get ready to file a claim.
What Claims are Covered?
You can file a claim in one of three ways:
1. Visit www.bp.com/claims
2. Call 1-800-440-0858
3. Visit one of the 25 BP Claim Centers (Locations can be found online at www.bp.com/claims)
Claim Documentation Examples
The following documents may or may not be required depending on your specific case.
All claims and supporting documentation will be reviewed by an adjuster who will assist you in determining the best way to substantiate your claim.
Before accepting funds from BP for a claim and signing any documents, be sure you understand the long-term implications.
For more information, please visit www.MyFloridaCFO.com.
Florida CFO Alex Sink has launched a webpage allowing Floridians to track state expenditures in response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, and to provide transparency in how BP grant dollars are distributed to Florida counties to reimburse their costs in responding to the oil spill. The webpage is linked from CFO Sink’s “Florida’s Checkbook” webpage: http://www.myfloridacfo.com/transparency.
The Deepwater Horizon Financial Accountability webpage is updated nightly. The financial data shown is representative of what Florida's state agencies have received/spent in relation to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Any monies received/spent by non-state agencies are not reflected.
CFO Alex Sink commended Governor Crist for his response to her call to make Florida’s Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program available for businesses affected by the Gulf oil disaster. The program provides emergency, short-term loans to established small businesses in designated Florida counties.
Applications for businesses are now available. For more information on the program including loan application documents, please contact the Florida First Capital Finance Corporation (http://www.ffcfc.com) at (850) 681-3601.
The Florida Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Network provides disaster assistance for businesses through the Florida SBDC Network’s Business Continuity and Risk Management Program including loan applications, processes and other assistance as it becomes available, and can also assist small businesses interested in applying for Florida Emergency Bridge Loans. The SBDC statewide toll free number is: 866-737-7232. Escambia & Santa Rosa Counties: 850-595-0063. Okaloosa & Fort Walton Counties: 850-833-9400.
On June 16, CFO Sink spoke with SBA Administrator Karen Mills about the Small Business Administration’s loan programs for small businesses impacted by the oil spill. Turnaround time on these economic disaster loans is running about nine days. CFO Sink asked the Governor on May 14 to request an economic disaster declaration for affected Florida counties from the SBA to allow impacted businesses to qualify for the Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) program.
Businesses in designated counties must demonstrate economic injury as part of their loan application. The loans may be used by small businesses that are unable to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills because of the disaster’s impact. SBA encourages businesses to also file claims with BP. Borrowers may be required to use any claim payments to help repay these SBA loans.
To date, SBA has approved 63 EIDL’s to affected small businesses in the Gulf, totaling more than $3.8 million. Additionally, the agency has granted deferments on 377 SBA disaster loans in the region.
Obtain loan information and application forms by calling SBA’s Customer Service Center at (800) 659-2955 (800-877-8339 for the hearing impaired), e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or visiting SBA’s web site at www.sba.gov/services/disasterassistance.
For a list of SBA loan centers that have been set up in Florida, visit: http://www.sba.gov/services/disasterassistance/basics/recentdisaster/SERV_OFFLOC.html.
The Agency for Workforce Innovation and Workforce Florida Inc., in partnership with the state’s 24 Regional Workforce Boards, have launched Florida Gulf Recovery Jobs, a new website that allows job seekers to locate and apply for positions created in response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The website is a dedicated portal through Florida’s official online job bank, the Employ Florida Marketplace. For information, visit the Recovery Jobs website, www.floridagulfrecoveryjobs.com, or call 1-877-362-5034.
Floridians are concerned about the effect that the Deepwater Horizon Oil Disaster is having on the state’s pristine beaches, marine life and economy. The prediction of an active hurricane season has given citizens an additional reason to be concerned.
In the aftermath of the 2004/2005 hurricanes, Florida’s homeowners learned how difficult it can be to differentiate damage caused by hurricanes from damaged caused by storm surge. Hurricane damage is typically covered by homeowner’s insurance policies, while damage caused by storm surge is covered by flood insurance. In the event an active hurricane season brings spilled oil inland, consumers may find themselves facing an additional up-hill battle. The question of who will pay for damaged property will undoubtedly arise.
Damage caused to a home by hurricane winds is covered by homeowners insurance. Damage caused by storm surge is not covered by homeowners insurance, nor will any contamination resulting from spilled oil. However, consumers should know that many homeowners’ insurance policies vary and some include pollution exclusion clauses which may prevent homeowners from receiving payment for damage caused by any oil contamination. Homeowners should check with their agent to discuss the details of their policy.
Flood insurance covers damage to the home caused directly by a storm surge, even if it is mixed with oil. Homeowners should note that coverage extends to the policy limits for both the structure and contents. Flood insurance does not cover the portion of the home that has been damaged by hurricane winds. Consumers should also know that flood insurance will not pay for the clean-up of property that has been contaminated by oil. Finally, homeowners should be aware that flood insurance has a 30-day wait period until coverage becomes effective, unless the coverage is purchased at the time of the mortgage closing.
Homeowners are encouraged to review their insurance policies and call their insurance agent if they have any questions.
Any expense related to the clean-up of oil will be billed to BP.
The Insurance Consumer Advocate is appointed by Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink and is committed to finding solutions to insurance issues facing Floridians, calling attention to questionable insurance practices, promoting a viable insurance market responsive to the needs of Florida’s diverse population and assuring that rates are fair and justified.
The National Flood Insurance Program will pay claims for damage to homes and contents from oil driven ashore during hurricanes, its officials have announced. Damage caused by these pollutants in flood waters is covered under the NFIP, subject to the provisions in the Standard Flood Insurance Policy.
To recover damages stemming from the additional risks oil poses should a hurricane strike, claimants seeking payment under the NFIP must prove there is a flood as defined in the standard flood insurance policy. Damage caused by pollutants to commercial policies is limited to $10,000. Home and condo payments will be limited to policy limits, and oil or water with oil in the yard is not covered.
For more information, visit: http://www.fema.gov/business/nfip/.
Any claims that are denied or that are not resolved within 90 days after the date of submission to the BP Exploration claims representative may be submitted to the US COAST GUARD STOP (ca), 4200 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 1000, Arlington, Virginia 20598-7100. Or call 800-280-7118 for assistance.
The Oil Pollution Act (OPA) of 1990 set up a system of liability and funding for responding to oil spills called the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund, which is administered by the National Pollution Funds Center (NPFC). In addition to funding cleanup activities, the NPFC can also accept applications for payment of damages due to an oil spill and pay for such damages out of the liability trust fund.
You must submit a claim to BP before you can submit a claim to National Pollution Funds Center.
If BP denies your claim or does not pay within 90 days of filing, you may file a claim with the National Pollution Funds Center, www.uscg.mil/npfc/Claims/default.asp.
The National Pollution Funds Center does not have a required format for claims to the oil spill trust fund, but it has provided an optional claim form. The optional claim form is available as an appendix to its “Claimant’s Guide” at two online locations:
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the FDA are taking additional steps to enhance inspection measures and ensure that seafood from the Gulf of Mexico is safe and free from contamination by oil.
NOAA has expanded the closed fishing area in the Gulf of Mexico, which now represents 80,806 square miles, approximately 33.4 percent of Gulf of Mexico federal waters. This leaves more than 66 percent of Gulf federal waters available for fishing, and the closed area does not apply to any state waters.
NOAA and FDA are also working to implement a broad-scaled seafood sampling plan that includes sampling seafood from inside and outside the closure area, as well as dockside- and market-based sampling. Details can be found at http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/ or at 1-.888-info-FDA.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is also monitoring air quality levels, and according to the most recent data, levels are normal for this time of year. However, EPA has observed odor-causing pollutants associated with oil in the air at low levels that may cause short-lived effects including headaches or throat irritation. Anyone experiencing these and other symptoms should call the Medical Support Line at (888) 623-0287.
The Vessels of Opportunity (VOO) program was designed and implemented to provide local boat operators an opportunity to assist with response activities, including transporting supplies, assisting wildlife rescue and deploying containment and sorbent boom. The program hires vessels of all sizes – with a priority placed on commercial vessels that make their living on the sea. Compensation depends on the size of the vessel and ranges from $1,200 - $3,000 per day, and crew members are paid $200 per eight-hour shift.
For information, visit: http://www.deepwaterhorizonresponse.com/go/doc/2931/542683.
For additional information, please visit www.deepwaterhorizonresponse.com or call: 866-279-7983 or 877-847-7470.
Taxpayers may be able to pay overdue taxes with no penalty and reduced interest during Florida's Tax Amnesty Days, July 1-September 30, 2010. The program is available to any taxpayer and can provide short-term relief for citizens who have been impacted by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
All taxes administered by the Department of Revenue are eligible, except unemployment tax and Miami-Dade County Lake Belt Fees. Types of taxes under this program that could help Florida’s small business and property owners impacted by the oil spill include sales tax, ad valorem taxes, tourist development taxes, intangible property taxes and corporate income taxes. Under the amnesty program, interest that would otherwise be due is reduced by 50 percent. Taxpayers must sign an amnesty agreement to participate. More details and the agreement will be available by July 1 through http://dor.myflorida.com/dor/.