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Gallagher Activates New Online System to Expedite Payment of Claims Following Charley

8/13/2004

CONTACT: Tami Torres
(850) 413-2842

TALLAHASSEE-As local, state and federal officials and volunteer organizations prepare to assist residents affected by Hurricane Charley, the Department of Financial Services is gearing up to quickly help thousands of Floridians who will need assistance in filing insurance claims, Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher said today.

According to Gallagher, the department will activate its new "E-Storm" system as it receives questions and complaints from consumers. "E-Storm" will automatically link up with participating insurance companies to ensure consumers receive immediate assistance.

"Charley will be devastating to thousands of Florida families. We are here to help them pick up the pieces and start the rebuilding process," said Gallagher, who oversees the Department of Financial Services. "With E-Storm, we'll be able to serve consumers faster and get companies to quickly resolve questions and complaints."

"E-Storm" is an electronic reporting system in which consumer questions and requests-for-assistance are input into a state database, which is connected to customer-service offices for several insurance companies, including State Farm, Nationwide, Citizens, USAA, Allstate, Tower Hill, Liberty Mutual, Farm Bureau and Sunshine State. Additional insurance companies are expected to participate within the next several days.

According to Gallagher, the department will keep its storm line, 1-800-22-STORM, operating throughout the weekend to assist Floridians. Information is also available on the DFS web site, www.fldfs.com , on storm preparation and the claims reporting contact numbers for the state's twenty largest homeowners insurance companies.


The toll-free storm line will remain activated Saturday and Sunday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. E.S.T.

Residents affected by Hurricane Charley should make emergency repairs to protect their home from further damage. Residents should also document damage and repairs in writing, with receipts and photos. Damage should be reported immediately to the insurance company.

In the event of severe damage, adjusters may contact policyholders to help with the filing of insurance claims. Gallagher said homeowners should keep in mind that public adjusters do not work for any insurance company and charge an independent fee to help file and collect on a claim. They will also require that you sign a contract. Company adjusters represent the company in determining the amount of property damage and what is covered by your policy. Adjusters must be licensed by the state and should be able to present a copy of their license. Consumers may call 1-800-22-STORM to verify that they are dealing with a licensed adjuster.