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Gallagher Deploys Mobile Response Unit to Help Floridians Get Insurance Claims Process under Way


CONTACT: Tami Torres
(850) 413-2842

TALLAHASSEE—As federal, state and local officials begin to get a handle on the extent of damages from Hurricane Charley, Florida's Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher has deployed the Department of Financial Services' Mobile Response Unit to southwest Florida to assist Floridians in filing insurance claims and quickly resolving insurance problems.

"Thousands of Floridians have suffered tremendous losses, and now we are beginning to start on the road to recovery," said Gallagher, who oversees the Department of Financial Services. "Volunteers from across the state are helping out with immediate needs. Local and national support organizations, including the Red Cross and FEMA, are coming together to ensure food, water and shelter are available. It's now our job to make sure insurance claims are paid quickly and that no one takes advantage of storm victims."

The department's Mobile Response Unit will be arriving in Port Charlotte at approximately 5 p.m. today, August 15, and will begin canvassing damaged areas. It will center operations at 24123 Peachland Blvd., Port Charlotte, which may be relocated to additional affected areas as needed. Available on the mobile unit are cellular phones, computers and other information resources to allow staff to assist victims immediately, in their communities. Using the "E-Storm" system, the state's electronic complaint reporting system, consumers will also be able to receive immediate assistance from their insurance companies in resolving problems. The unit will also help insurance agents and adjusters locate policyholders.

Since Hurricane Charley made landfall on Friday, the department has fielded 3,000 calls from affected consumers. Frequently asked questions include consumers searching for claims reporting phone numbers, assistance in obtaining basic necessities and debris removal. The department also has heard from many Floridians who have uninsured property loss. For those consumers, the department has forwarded requests to FEMA, at 1-800-621-3362, which can assist uninsured residents with immediate shelter needs and also in the rebuilding process.

Early estimates of damage place insured residential property damage at $5 to 11 billion, not including auto or commercial properties, or flood damages. A more precise estimate of damage is expected from the Insurance Information Institute by Tuesday, August 17.

Gallagher further advises affected Floridians to take the following actions:

· Make emergency repairs to protect from further damage, document the damage and repairs in writing, and with receipts and photos.

· Maintain copies of your household inventory and other documentation, including photos. This will assist the adjuster in assessing the value of the destroyed property.

· Beware of fly-by-night repair businesses. Hire licensed and reputable service people.

· If considering the assistance of a public insurance adjuster, verify that they are licensed by calling the department's toll-free storm hotline at 1-800-22-STORM.

· Be sure you understand how much a public insurance adjuster is charging and what services are included before signing any contract.

· If you need to cash a check and go to a check casher, remember they can't charge more than 10 percent of the check amount plus a $5 fee.

Informational flyers are also being distributed to storms victims. A copy of the flyer, in English and Spanish is attached to this release.

Consumers who are approached by an unlicensed agent or adjuster or have been the victim of an insurance fraud scam can also file a complaint on line on the department's web page at or by calling the storm hotline. Fraud complaints received online can be sent directly to the appropriate field office within five minutes.

Consumers can also continue to call the disaster hotline at 1-800-22-STORM (1-800-227-8676) and find additional resources on the department's website at