GALLAGHER GIVES HURRICANE CHARLEY STATUS REPORT
Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher today joined area legislators, including incoming House Majority Leader Andy Gardiner, in a tour of storm-affected areas in Orange County and provided an update on the Department of Financial Services’ response to victims of Hurricane Charley.
“Local, state and federal officials, in addition to the many volunteer organizations, should be applauded for their quick and effective response to Hurricane Charley,” said Gallagher, who served as Insurance Commissioner during Hurricane Andrew. “Storm victims need all the help they can get to start rebuilding their homes and lives, and we’re here to help.”
Gallagher’s update followed a tour of storm-damaged areas and a briefing with county officials, including Orange County Commission Chairman Richard Crotty.
“For storm victims, the Department of Financial Services is focused on ensuring companies quickly pay claims, investigating allegations of fraud and assisting the more than 15,000 Floridians who have called for help since the storm struck,” Gallagher said.
“CFO Gallagher’s presence underscores the great partnership between state and local authorities to expedite the recovery process,” said Representative Gardiner.
Also Gallagher joined Florida Select Insurance Company President Mike Lefler, who announced a $50,000 donation to Volunteer Florida, a state-coordinated consortium of volunteer organizations. The donation will go directly toward recovery efforts.
The Florida Cabinet approved a measure recommended by Gallagher to impose a 60-day grace period on premium payments and nonrenewals for homeowners insurance, in the aftermath of Hurricane Charley. Gallagher asked Governor Jeb Bush and other members of the Florida Cabinet, which also serves as the state’s Financial Services Commission, to authorize the measure giving the hardest-hit storm victims time to recover and file insurance claims, without having to worry about losing coverage.
The Cabinet unanimously approved the measures, which extend to storm victims in Brevard, Charlotte, DeSoto, Hardee, Lake, Lee, Orange, Osceola, Polk, Sarasota, Seminole and Volusia counties, which have been declared as substantially affected counties.
For storm victims who will need extensive repairs to their homes, Gallagher also proposed an amendment to the emergency rules granting an additional 60-day moratorium on insurance cancellations following the completion of home repairs.
Gallagher also limited public adjuster fees to no more than 10 percent of the claim payment, noting in the case of a total loss that no fee should be charged. He also banned adjusters from requiring any up-front payment.
Gallagher reminded victims of Hurricane Charley that the department is available to assist affected Floridians over the phone or in person. Some 20 disaster recovery sites, manned by consumer specialists, are located in 10 counties. Consumers calling 1-800-22-STORM (227-8676) or visiting a mobile location can verify that an adjuster or agent is licensed, get help filing an insurance claim, verify a contractor has workers’ compensation coverage and more.
The department also has teams of investigators on the ground investigating reports of any unlicensed adjusters, inappropriate adjuster offers or contractors working without workers’ compensation insurance.
In addition, Gallagher has asked banks and credit unions to consider increasing credit card limits and credit lines, reducing or eliminating late fees on loans, granting temporary loan payment extensions, allowing customers to skip a loan or credit card payment, expediting loan applications, and waiving ATM and check-cashing fees for storm victims, even if they are not accountholders.
Additional information is available at www.MyFloridaCFO.com .