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Gallagher: Time to Prepare for Potential Storm

9/12/2003

CONTACT: Tami Torres or Nina Banister
(850) 413-2842

TALLAHASSEE – With Hurricane Isabel spinning in the Atlantic and heading toward likely landfall somewhere along the southeastern United States, Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher is warning homeowners that it is critical now to prepare for a potential strike.

"Being prepared can save lives, property and a lot of heartache," Gallagher said. "With Isabel fast approaching, I'm urging Floridians to take action to protect themselves, their homes and their businesses."

To track the storm and to get tips on how to prepare for a storm, visit the Department of Financial Services' website at www.fldfs.com and click on "Storm Watch."

Gallagher said Floridians concerned about their homeowners' coverage or who are in the process of buying a home should call their agent immediately. Many insurance companies will not write or update policies if the storm is within a certain boundary. Citizens Property Insurance Corporation, the state's property insurer of last resort, will continue to write and update policies until a storm warning or watch is in effect.

Homeowners who need flood coverage, however, may have waited too late to get coverage for this potential storm. Flood insurance, provided through the National Flood Insurance Program, takes 30 days to activate.

Preparations that are critical now include:


· Inventory household items, including receipts, purchase dates and serial numbers. Photograph or videotape your possessions. Holding up a daily newspaper for the photo or video can help provide verification. 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.

· Buy materials you may need to secure your property and minimize your losses. If a storm warning is issued, cover your windows with shutters, siding or plywood. Move vehicles, grills and patio furniture inside.

For further information, call the department's toll-free Consumer helpline at 1-800-342-2762.