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Statement from CFO Tom Gallagher on Progress of Hurricane Insurance Claim Payments in Pensacola Area

3/23/2005

CONTACT:
Tami Torres 
(850) 413-2842
 
PENSACOLA—"The last time I was here, I had the opportunity to listen to and talk with more than 1,000 Pensacola residents who were frustrated with their insurance company and did not know what to do or where to turn.
 
"Residents like Marlene Bigalow, who told me she was eating grits three times a day and was desperate to get her insurance check. I'm happy to say that a check was cut within seven days to Ms. Bigalow on her claim, and we are hoping she has already started getting her life back.
 
"Following the town hall meeting, I called in the chief executive officers of five insurance companies to get an explanation of why they were unresponsive, stalling payments or lowballing claims.
 
"In addition to getting their commitment to resolve outstanding claims, we specifically requested a best practices checklist for catastrophes, clear and concise information to policyholders on their claims, and improved claims handling.
 
"So far, we are seeing progress since the town hall meeting three weeks ago today.  At our meeting, we opened 142 new complaints for residents.  Today, half of them have been resolved or are going to mediation.
 
"Since Ivan hit, we have worked with nearly 10,000 area residents to get resolution from their insurance company.  Today, we have 501 open cases. 
 
"But that doesn't mean our work is over.  There may be others in this area who still need help with their hurricane claim.  We're here to help, and the best way to get help is to call us – the Department of Financial Services – at 1-800-22-STORM.
 
"In the meantime, I am continuing to monitor the progress of Florida's homeowners insurance companies to ensure that storm victims' claims are handled fairly and expeditiously."
 
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