***consumer Alert *** New Single Hurricane Deductible Law May Assist Victims of Multiple Hurricanes This Season
Tami Torres or Bob Lotane
MIAMI –Tom Gallagher, Florida's chief financial officer, today alerted storm victims that damage sustained from multiple hurricanes this season can be combined to meet a single windstorm insurance deductible.
"Following the unprecedented four hurricanes we were hit with in 2004, we were successful in passing a law to limit hurricane deductibles to one per hurricane season," said Gallagher, "regardless of the number of hurricanes that affect the policyholder. Floridians need to know that losses suffered in separate storms can be combined to reach the deductible amount. My hope is that this new law will protect people from financial devastation."
Under the new law, one full hurricane deductible, typically two or five percent of the total coverage for the structure, can be applied, regardless of the number of storms. However, once the full hurricane deductible has been met, insurers can only apply a non-hurricane deductible on future claims from other storms. The usual non-hurricane deductible for losses that result from other causes, such as fire or theft, is $500.
For example, a two percent hurricane deductible on a $200,000 structure would be $4,000. Therefore if a loss in excess of $4,000 was suffered from Hurricane Katrina, one full deductible would be met. Any additional storm claims would be subject to the usual $500 non-hurricane deductible so loss amounts exceeding $500 from Hurricane Wilma normally would be covered.
However, if the damage from Katrina was only $3,000, there would still be $1,000 left from the required $4,000 hurricane deductible to be met, and this would apply to losses from Wilma or any other storm.
Questions about deductibles or other financial issues can be answered through the Department of Financial Service hurricane hotline at 1-800-22-STORM. The department has also opened insurance villages where specialists can help Floridians contact their insurance companies and also help consumers get emergency funding from their insurance companies for food, water, or shelter where hazardous conditions exist.
Many insurance companies have also sent mobile units to the DFS site. The insurance villages are open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week.
• In Broward County at 6901 West Sunrise Boulevard in Plantation (across the street from Plantation High School).
• A Miami-Dade County insurance village will be set up on Wednesday, November 2. Details will be forthcoming.
Assistance is also available in the DFS Consumer Services Offices:
• 400 N. Congress Ave., Suite 210, West Palm Beach – (561)640-6700
• 401 NW 2nd Ave, Suite N307, Miami – (305)536-0300
• 2295 Victoria Ave, Suite 163, Ft. Myers – (239)461-4000
The department will work to have insurance consumer specialists located in the Disaster Recovery Centers set up by FEMA.
Gallagher also alerted Floridians to emergency rules enacted by the Florida insurance commissioner in response to Hurricane Wilma:
Homeowners policies cannot be canceled until 90 days after all hurricane damage is repaired. Also, pharmacies must allow prescriptions to be refilled beyond the standard 30-day supply, so that Floridians who have to evacuate their homes can travel with an adequate supply of medication. Additionally, an order issued prohibits insurers from canceling or non-renewing policies covering commercial or residential property, automobile, health, life, health maintenance organizations and continuing care retirement centers in 20 counties damaged by Hurricane Wilma.
As a statewide elected officer of the Florida Cabinet, Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher 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. Gallagher also serves as the State Fire Marshal.