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CFO Sink: DFS Storm Line Ready to Help Victims of Florida Storms and Tornadoes

4/14/2009

CONTACT: Kyra Jennings or Nina Banister
(850) 413-2842
 
TALLAHASSEE — Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink is advising victims of reported tornadoes that struck the Tampa Bay Area and severe storms in North and Central Florida that insurance specialists with the Department of Financial Services’ toll-free storm line at 1-800-22-STORM (1-800-227-8676) are standing by to assist victims in contacting their insurance companies with questions about their policies.
 
“Our specialists are ready to help and have the knowledge and experience to help disaster victims ask the right questions to begin the process of repairing or rebuilding,” said CFO Sink.
 
Tornadoes are reported to have damaged homes and uprooted trees in the Tampa Bay Area as a significant storm front moved through North and Central Florida. The National Weather Service issued a tornado watch for 20 Florida counties through the early afternoon. 
 
CFO Sink offered the following advice to property owners who have suffered damage:
 
Immediately report damage to your agent or insurance company.  
Make emergency repairs and document them. Take necessary steps to keep your family safe and protect your home from further damage, but be sure to keep all receipts, take photographs of damage before and after any repairs, and keep any damaged furniture, carpet or rugs for the adjuster to inspect.
Take precautions if the damage requires you to leave your home. Secure your property and turn off your gas and electricity. Contact your insurance agent and provide a phone number where you can be reached.
 
Beware of fly-by-night repair businesses. Hire licensed, reputable, preferably local service people, and avoid any contractor or appraiser who says they can adjust your insurance claim. You can verify a contractor’s license and check to see if there are any complaints against them by calling the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation at (850) 487-1395.
The Department of Financial Services’ toll-free storm line -- 1-800-22-STORM (1-800-227-8676) – is operational 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.
 
This severe storm system is also likely to cause flooding in North and Central Florida. If homeowners have questions about their insurance coverage in the event of flood damage, they are encouraged to contact the DFS storm line. For information about properly responding to flooding, Floridians should visit the FEMA Web site at http://www.fema.gov/business/nfip/.
 
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.