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CFO Jeff Atwater Offers Post-Storm Tips, Urges Tampa Residents Affected by Tornadoes to Be Watchful for Unlicensed Contractors

4/7/2011

Contact: Alexis Lambert  
(850) 413-2842
 
TALLAHASSEE—Florida CFO Jeff Atwater is urging Tampa residents whose homes and property were damaged last week by tornadoes to be on the lookout for unlicensed contractors, and to make sure they thoroughly understand all of the details before signing any contract with a contractor.
 
Consumer specialists with CFO Atwater’s Department of Financial Services have been helping callers through the CFO’s Storm Helpline, 1-800-22-STORM, and with representatives on the ground, including at the Hillsborough County Disaster Recovery Center.
 
“We know the losses have been devastating and this department is committed to helping affected homeowners and business owners make insurance claims and begin the road to recovery,” said Florida CFO Jeff Atwater.  “We want to make sure that they are not taken advantage of or make financial decisions that may not be in their best interest. Residents must be on alert because there will be individuals looking to take advantage of this tragedy.”
 
CFO Atwater offered the following tips for those who will need to file an insurance claim:

• Make emergency repairs to protect from further damage, and document the damage and repairs in writing, with receipts and photos to provide to your insurance company.
• Gather copies of your household inventory and other documentation, including photos.  This will assist your insurance company adjuster in assessing the value of the destroyed property.
• If you must leave your home because of the damage, give your temporary forwarding address and phone number to your insurance agent or insurance company.
• Beware of fly-by-night repair businesses and hire licensed and reputable service people.
• If considering the assistance of a public insurance adjuster, ask for identification and verify that the adjuster is licensed by calling the Storm Line.  Understand how much a public insurance adjuster is charging and what services are included before signing any contract.

More information regarding disaster-related insurance topics is available on the Department’s Disaster Response page at www.MyFloridaCFO.com/Consumers/Storm.  Consumers looking for tips on the rebuilding process, including storm-resistant construction and materials, should visit www.MySafeFloridaHome.com.  The Storm Line, 1-800-22-STORM, is available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. EDT.
Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, a statewide elected official and officer of the Florida Cabinet, oversees the Department of Financial Services including the Division of Insurance Fraud.  CFO Atwater’s priorities include fighting financial fraud, abuse and waste in government, reducing government spending and regulatory burdens that chase away businesses, and providing transparency and accountability in spending.