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Gallagher Reminds Hurricane Victims How to Seek Help for Insurance Questions and Problems

8/23/2004

CONTACT: Tami Torres or Justin Glover
(850) 413-2842

TALLAHASSEE-Florida's Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher today reminded victims of Hurricane Charley that the Department of Financial Services is available to assist affected Floridians over the phone or in person.

"Our hurricane hotline remains available at 1-800-22-STORM," Gallagher said. "Whether you need help contacting your insurance company, filing a claim or resolving a complaint, DFS staff are on the ground in the impacted communities ready to help."

Immediately following the storm, Gallagher deployed the department's Mobile Response Unit to set up a base of operations at 24123 Peachland Blvd., Publix shopping center, in Port Charlotte. The department now has consumer specialists at an additional 13 locations 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 of Financial Services also has teams of investigators on the ground investigating reports of any unlicensed adjusters, inappropriate adjuster offers or contractors working without workers' compensation insurance.

Gallagher also said he plans to ask Governor Jeb Bush and other members of the Florida Cabinet, which also serves as the state's Financial Services Commission, to co-authorize a 60-day insurance premium grace period and moratorium on non-renewals at tomorrow's Cabinet meeting.

Gallagher will ask to extend these measures through October 15 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.

In addition, Gallagher is asking 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.

A list of the sites manned by insurance consumer specialists is attached.

CHARLOTTE COUNTY
Harold Recreation Center, 23400 Harold Ave., Port Charlotte

LEE COUNTY
Lee County Public Works, 1500 Monroe St., Fort Myers

LEE COUNTY
Germain Arena, 11000 Everblades Pkwy, Estero

LEE COUNTY
Fisher of Men Lutheran Church, 10360 Stringfellow Road, Pine Island

HARDEE COUNTY
Hardee County School Board Parking Lot, 1001 North highway 17, Wauchula

HARDEE COUNTY
Pioneer Park, 2800 US Highway 17 South, Zolfo Springs

HARDEE COUNTY
Migrant Workers Head Start, 5115 Mason-Dixon Ave., Bowling Green

DESOTO COUNTY
South Florida Community College, 2251 Northeast Turner Ave., Arcadia
Please Note: The DRC at DeSoto Middle School has been closed.

HIGHLANDS COUNTY
County Offices, 4505 George Blvd., Sebring

OSCEOLA COUNTY
Osceola Square Mall, Suite 31-B, Kissimmee

POLK COUNTY
Eagle Ridge Mall, Unit 308, 451 Eagle Ridge Drive, Lake Wales

VOLUSIA COUNTY
Sunshine Park Mall, 2400 S. Ridgewood Ave., South Daytona

SEMINOLE COUNTY
Strip Mall,1491 E. State Road 434, Winter Springs

ORANGE COUNTY
NICOR Building, 1602 N. Goldenrod Road, Orlando