Volume 3 Number 41
October 9, 2006

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“FORTIFY FLORIDA!” BRINGS PREPAREDNESS HOME TO PALM BEACH

Florida Atlantic University and Florida Power & Light host town fair to help homeowners harden homes against hurricane damage and reduce cost of insurance
       

Lt. Governor Toni Jennings, Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher, Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty, FPL President Armando Olivera and FAU President Frank Brogan announced Fortify Florida: Palm Beach Prepares!, the third in a series of town fairs around the state to provide homeowners with a one-stop-shop of information about hardening their homes against hurricanes and reducing their insurance premiums.  Insurance companies, home improvement stores, emergency managers, non-profit organizations and other government and private-sector partners are participating in the town fairs, which are free and open to the public.  The town fair is scheduled for Saturday, October 14th from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Florida Atlantic University Arena, "The Burrow," 777 Glades Road in Boca Raton. 

“Fortifying Florida is essential for instilling a ‘culture of preparedness.’  The goal of the town fairs is to empower people with the information they need to make critical decisions about protecting their homes and reducing their insurance premiums,” said Governor Bush. “During the last two years, thousands of Floridians lost their homes or were forced out of their homes for months because of damage sustained from hurricanes.  We want to help Floridians harden their homes against potential damage, which are investments that can save them money on their annual insurance premiums and help spare them the anguish of losing their homes during natural disasters.”

Fortify Florida: Palm Beach Prepares! will feature home improvement how-to clinics and displays of building materials to strengthen homes. Insurance companies from the area will be available to talk to homeowners about how they can take advantage of discounts and credits on their premiums for hardening their homes against wind damage from hurricanes.  Homeowners can also apply for free home inspections and grants up to $5000 from “My Safe Florida Home”, a $250 million program launched this year and administered by the Florida Department of Financial Services to help Floridians protect their homes. 

“The My Safe Florida Home program is open for business and accepting applications for free home inspections,” said Tom Gallagher, Florida’s chief financial officer. “Our mission is to help Floridians identify how they can strengthen their homes and better protect themselves and their families against hurricanes.  We have the financial capacity to serve as many as 50,000 Floridians over the next year, and with the Legislature’s continued funding, we look forward to providing free inspections and matching grants to as many Floridians as possible.”

“Two unprecedented back-to-back hurricane seasons caused $36 billion in insured losses and billions more in uninsured damage,” said Lt. Governor Toni Jennings, chair of the newly created Property & Casualty Insurance Reform Committee. “The rising cost of insurance is a hardship for many Floridians.  Fortifying Florida will reduce the risk of cumulative damage, which will stabilize the cost and availability of insurance.”

“Upgrading your home to the 2003 building code, installing hurricane shutters and securing your roof can protect your home from wind damage and also reduce the cost of your hurricane insurance policy,” said Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty.  “We want insurance companies to tell homeowners how much they can save by hardening their homes, so they can make informed decisions about hardening their homes.”

“Much of this hurricane season has passed safely, but preparation remains critical, and if they haven’t already done so, residents of the region need to get a hurricane plan,” said Frank Brogan, FAU president. “This is something our entire community needs to be a part of. It is vital that homeowners inspect their homes, and take whatever steps they can to harden their homes against storm damage. As an institution of leadership and learning, FAU is proud to support this effort. We know that fortifying is the best way to protect lives and to reduce the severity of insurance claims, and urge homeowners to attend the Fortify Florida town fair.” 

“Hurricanes are a fact of life for our region, and as we’ve learned, there is simply no substitute for preparation, particularly for homeowners in coastal or low-lying regions,” said Armando Olivera, FPL president. “I join Florida’s leaders in urging residents to act now to strengthen their homes. Fortifying homes against severe weather allows homeowners to protect their most valuable financial assets, lessening the chance of property damage. But most important is that these steps will save lives. Proper preparation and planning is the key to surviving, and strengthening our homes provides the greatest level of safety for Florida’s families.”

The State has taken steps this year to ease the financial burden of rising insurance rates on Florida’s homeowners and businesses.  In August, the Governor and Cabinet reactivated the Commercial Joint Underwriting Association to provide property insurance coverage to Florida’s business owners who have been unable to secure it from the private sector. 

To provide immediate relief to policyholders, the state provided $715 million to Citizens Property Insurance Corporation to offset the company’s deficit and reduce the surcharge assessed on all policyholders – not just those with coverage from Citizens.  Without this funding, insurance policies in the state would have increased an additional $172.48 for every $1000 of individual insurance premiums. 

To increase the availability of private insurance, the state is providing $250 million for a new Insurance Capital Build-up Incentive Program to provide matching funds for insurance companies bringing new capital to the market.  This program will enable private insurance companies to underwrite more policies. 

For information on creating a Family Disaster Preparedness Plan, please visit www.floridadisaster.org.  For information about participating in the My Safe Florida Home (Florida Comprehensive Hurricane Damage Mitigation Program), please visit www.mysafefloridahome.com or call 1-800-342-2762.