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Gallagher Offers Hurricane Status Report

2/1/2005

CONTACT:
Tami Torres or Nina Banister
(850) 413-2842
  
TALLAHASSEE – Just three weeks after the Department of Financial Services launched its Multiple Deductible Reimbursement Program, more than 400 checks totaling $600,000 are being mailed this week, Florida's Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher told Governor Jeb Bush and members of Florida's Cabinet today. 
 
The money, as appropriated by state lawmakers, will help reimburse storm victims for deductible losses.  The department has received over 11,000 applications in the last 10 days.
 
Gallagher raised concerns that more than 10 percent of the applications are being submitted without a social security number, which is needed to process them.   Another 5 percent are coming in without necessary signatures.
 
Gallagher shared the news while providing an update on the progress of insurance companies paying storm claims and the department's hurricane mediation program.  According to Gallagher, 87 percent of the 1.6 million hurricane claims filed as a result of last year's four back-to-back storms have been settled.  The storms combined have resulted in estimated insured losses of $21.4 billion to date.
 
"We have much work left to do, but Florida has come a long way in recovering from the unbelievable hurricane season we were hit with," said Gallagher, who oversees the department.  "But the good news is that claims are getting paid and rebuilding is under way."
 
Gallagher initiated the mediation program to provide a dispute-resolution process free to homeowners who need help resolving hurricane claims to avoid more costly options, such as going to court.   Nearly 5,000 storm victims have applied for mediation.  Of cases completed, more than 1,300 have resulted in an additional claims payment – a settlement rate of 93 percent. Approximately 3,700 cases are still pending.
 
The department has received more than 200,000 calls for help from consumers seeking help in understanding their policy coverage or filing a claim.  
 
"We are committed to helping Floridians emotionally and financially battered by these storms get back on their feet as quickly as possible," Gallagher said. 
 
For more information, consumers can call 1-800-22-STORM.