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Gallagher Urges East Coast Residents to Stay Alert, Prepare for Possible Strike by Hurricane Jeanne


CONTACT: Nina Banister
(850) 413-2842

TALLAHASSEE-Florida's Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher is urging residents along Florida's East Coast to once again prepare for the possibility of another hurricane strike, this time from Hurricane Jeanne that could make landfall by Sunday morning.

"Some of you have been battered by one storm and in some cases two storms already, and now you are watching as another hurricane threatens," Gallagher said today. "It feels overwhelming, but do not let your guard down. Listen for evacuation orders and be prepared to leave immediately if ordered to do so."

The state's Emergency Operations Center has reported 87 storm-related deaths in Florida since the first storm, Hurricane Charley, struck the southwest coast on August 13. Hurricane Frances struck the southeast coast in early September and Hurricane Ivan hit the Panhandle last week.

The Department of Financial Services' storm hotline, 1-800-22STORM, has been activated seven days a week since before Hurricane Charley hit. By calling the storm line, consumers can get help filing an insurance claim, get advice on making temporary repairs, verify an adjuster is properly licensed, or file a complaint against an insurance agent, adjuster or company.

Gallagher suggests making these preparations before the storm:

· 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 be responsible for a portion of the repair costs.

· Inventory your household items, including receipts, purchase dates and serial numbers. Photograph or videotape 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 and/or patio furniture should be moved inside.

· 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.

Gallagher recommends taking these actions after the storm:

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

· Immediately report property damage to your insurance agent and company.

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

· Take precautions if the damage requires you to leave your home. Let your agent or insurance company know your temporary forwarding address and phone number.

· 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 consumer helpline at 1-800-342-2762.

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

"Floridians have never had to suffer through multiple hard-hitting storms. We will do whatever we can to meet our residents' needs and expedite the payment of insurance claims so Floridians can start to rebuild their homes and lives."

Hurricane season continues until November 30. For more hurricane preparation tips, visit the Department of Financial Services' web site at