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Gallagher to Homeowners: Prepare Now for a Busy Hurricane Season

5/31/2002

TALLAHASSEE - Experts warn that during 2002 hurricane season, which begins tomorrow, June 1, at least nine tropical storms will develop, with six to eight becoming hurricanes. Experts also say two or three could become major storms. This year marks the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Andrew, which caused nearly $23 billion in insured damages in 1992.

"Being prepared can save lives, property and a lot of heartache," Florida Treasurer and Insurance Commissioner Tom Gallagher said. "The planning that homeowners do today can keep a natural disaster from becoming an insurance disaster."

Gallagher recommended that Florida residents review their insurance policies and speak to their agents about the coverage they will need in the event of a disaster this season.

He also suggested following these storm preparation tips:


· Don't wait until the last minute to buy coverage. If you're covered, carefully review your policy, especially its "declarations" page. Know whether your policy pays the "replacements cost" or "actual cash value" for a covered loss. The latter rarely will pay enough to replace a destroyed item at today's prices. You may want to upgrade your policy if it does not cover the current value of your home and its contents.


· Be sure you know what your deductible is for hurricane losses. Most policies now have a hurricane deductible of two to five percent of a home's insured value. If your property is damaged, you will responsible for a portion of the repair costs.


· Inventory your household items, including receipts, purchase dates and serial numbers. Photograph or video-tape your possessions. Keep copies of this information and your insurance policies in a safe place and keep the originals in a safe deposit box.


· Write down the name, address and claims-reporting telephone number of your insurance company, which may differ from your agent's contact information. Keep this information


· in a safe place and make sure you have access to it if you are forced to evacuate your home.


· When a hurricane threatens, take action to protect your property. Buy the materials you need to secure your property and minimize your losses. Cover your windows with shutters, siding or plywood. Move vehicles into a garage or carport when possible. Grills, patio furniture should be moved inside.


· Strengthen your home by making sure roof anchors are installed. Replace windows and doors that don't pass the impact test or cover them with shutters. The right doors, windows and shutters may also save you money on your insurance premiums.


· Keep materials such as plywood and plastic on hand in case you need to make temporary repairs after a storm. Keep receipts for those repairs so that your insurance company can reimburse you.

If you have further questions, call our toll-free Consumer helpline at 1-800-342-2762. Ask for a free guide on "Insurance Your Home" or a brochure on "Natural Disasters." You can also visit www.fldfs.com for more information.