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My Safe Florida Home Adds New Helpline Specialists

7/27/2007

CONTACT:    Tara Klimek or Brannon Jordan
(850) 413-2842          
 
Program improving customer service and reducing hold time for Florida homeowners
 
TALLAHASSEE – In a continuing effort to improve customer service, Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink today announced the My Safe Florida Home (MSFH) program has added 12 helpline specialists - doubling the resources - to assist homeowners inquiring about the program through its toll free helpline.  Since the MSFH program expanded statewide in April, the helpline has received an increased number of inquiries from new and current applicants.  With the additional staff, the program expects homeowners seeking a free wind inspection will be able to reach a specialist more quickly.
 
“Since taking office in January, we have been working to improve the customer service in the My Safe Florida Home program,” said CFO Sink, who oversees the Department of Financial Services.  “The addition of more helpline representatives is yet another way the program is working to better assist Florida’s homeowners.”
 
The additional helpline specialists will allow the program to handle up to 3,500 more calls per week.  The MSFH program is currently handling almost 5,000 calls each week. Consumers should know that hold times to speak to a specialist vary from day to day, with the heaviest call volume on Mondays and Tuesdays.  The program receives fewer phone calls mid- to late-week.
 
CFO Sink has been working to streamline the program and to provide better customer service to Floridians after the program got off to a slow start in 2006.  Florida homeowners can apply entirely online to receive their free wind inspections by visiting the MSFH program’s Web site at www.MySafeFloridaHome.com. Consumers may also apply over the phone at the program’s toll-free helpline at 1-866-513-MSFH (6734).
 
CFO Sink’s goal is to complete 400,000 free wind inspections over the next two years and, since April 2007, more than 60,000 Floridians have received free wind inspections.  Any Floridian who lives in a single-family, site-built home is eligible for a free wind inspection through the program.  With a free wind inspection, Floridians will receive a detailed inspection report, learn how safe their homes are and know what they can do to strengthen their homes against hurricanes.  Additionally, many Floridians are finding they are eligible for discounts on their wind insurance premiums—without making a single improvement!
 
The MSFH program also offers eligible homeowners matching grant reimbursements of up to $5,000 to make certain mitigation improvements.  In order to be eligible for the program’s matching grant reimbursements, homeowners who sign up now must meet the following requirements under a new law: have received a completed wind inspection; live in a single-family, site-built home with a building permit issued before March 1, 2002; have a valid homestead exemption; have an insured value of $300,000 or less; and be located in the wind-borne debris region.  Additionally, while the free wind inspections cover seven potential wind-resistance improvements, matching grants may only be used for opening protections, including windows, exterior doors and garage doors, as well as the bracing of gable ends.
 
More than 6,000 homeowners are currently working with the MSFH program to harden their homes.  To date, 533 homeowners have completed the improvements recommended in their inspection reports and have received a grand total of more than $1.6 million in matching grant reimbursements.  Homeowners are being reimbursed for half the cost up to $5,000 on a variety of home improvements, including hurricane shutters, reinforced garage doors and the bracing of gable ends. 

As a statewide elected officer of the Florida Cabinet, Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink oversees the Department of Financial Services, a multi-division state agency responsible for management of state funds and unclaimed property, assisting consumers who request information and help related to financial services, and investigating financial fraud. CFO Sink also serves as the State Fire Marshal.