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Governor and Cabinet Approve Rule to Expedite Payment of Outstanding Hurricane Claims

3/17/2005

CONTACT:
Tami Torres or Bob Lotane
850-413-2842

Cabinet Sets One Month Deadline for Payment of Insured Losses
 
TALLAHASSEE – In response to a call by the Florida's Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher, the governor and Cabinet approved an emergency rule today to expedite the resolution of open claims from last year's tropical storm and four hurricanes. 
 
"It's been over six months since these storms devastated our state," said Gallagher, who serves as one of the members of the Florida Cabinet.  "Floridians, who responsibly paid their premiums on time expect these claims to be settled and paid so they can start to rebuild their homes.  We expect insurance companies to step up to the plate and resolve their outstanding claims.  The measure we approve today will help hold insurers' feet to the fire."
 
Gallagher has held three of five scheduled hurricane recovery town hall meetings around the state, where over two thousand people have expressed frustration with their insurance companies and in many cases have requested assistance.  To date, the Department of Financial Services has received over 300,000 phone calls and has handled over 53,000 complaints.  More than 10,000 complaints are still unresolved.  In response to storm victims' frustration, Gallagher called for the emergency rule to protect the economic health and welfare of the state and to assist Floridians still working to get their homes and their lives back to normal. 
 
Under the emergency rule, insurers must settle and pay all outstanding personal residential claims and commercial residential claims resulting from Hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan or Jeanne and Tropical Storm Bonnie no later than April 18, 2005.  Claims not settled and paid by that date must be reported to the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation by April 28, 2005.  The report must contain the policyholder's name, policy and claim number, and a detailed explanation of why the claim has not been settled and paid. 
 
The rule mandates that outstanding claims be settled within the next 30 days unless the claim is being litigated, is awaiting mediation, or has been recently opened and loss estimates have not been received.  There have been over 1.6 million claims filed from last year's hurricanes; approximately 91 percent of them have been closed, according to data compiled by the Office of Insurance Regulation.