main menu page title feature menus content footer
My Florida C F O

CFO's Initiatives

Stay Connected

Follow the
Department of
Financial Services

Sign up for the CFO's
weekly newsletter!

Press Release

News   RSS RSS   Press Office   Archive

Gallagher Deploys Mobile Assistance Unit to Hialeah for Floridians Impacted by Wilma

11/2/2005

CONTACT: 
Tami Torres or Bob Lotane
(850) 413-2842
  
MIAMI – Tom Gallagher, Florida's chief financial officer, announced today that he has deployed a second mobile assistance unit to South Florida to help hurricane victims in the recovery process.   Gallagher, who was on-hand at the opening of the new unit in Hialeah, was joined by State Representative Ralph Arza, Hialeah City Council President Julio Robaina and Miami-Dade School Board Chair Frank Bolaños.
 
"So many Floridians were impacted because of the wide path of destruction caused by Wilma, and we are here to help," said Gallagher.  "My goal is to make sure no one takes advantage of storm victims and that insurance claims are paid quickly."
 
The new location is in Hialeah at Amelia Earhart Park, 401 East 65th Street at the intersection of 122nd Street. Enter at the 4th Avenue entrance to the park.
 
The mobile units are staffed with the Department of Financial Services' consumer specialists who can help affected Floridians reach their insurance companies, start the claims process, understand what steps they should take to rebuild and also help consumers get emergency funding from their insurance companies for food, water, or shelter where hazardous conditions exist. 
 
In Broward County, the mobile response unit is located at 6901 West Sunrise Boulevard in Plantation, across the street from Plantation High School.
 
Available on the mobile units are cellular phones, computers and other information resources to allow staff to help victims contact their insurance companies, file claims, get answers to questions they may have about their policies, and verify licensure of adjusters.  The mobile assistance unit hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Sunday.  Bilingual consumer specialists are available.
 
Consumers can also call the department's storm hotline at 1-800-22-STORM for assistance.  The hotline is available Monday through Sunday 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.  Gallagher said that the department has already received more than 6,000 calls from storm victims.
 
Gallagher further advised affected Floridians to take the following actions immediately following the storm:
 
• Make emergency repairs to protect from further damage, document the damage and repairs in writing, and with receipts and photos.
 
• Maintain copies of your household inventory and other documentation, including photos.  This will assist the adjuster in assessing the value of the destroyed property.
 
• Beware of fly-by-night repair businesses. Hire licensed and reputable service people.
 
• If considering the assistance of a public insurance adjuster, verify that the adjuster is licensed by calling the department's toll-free storm hotline at 1-800-22-STORM.
 
• Be sure you understand how much a public insurance adjuster is charging and what
services are included before signing any contract.
 
A consumer who is approached by an unlicensed agent or adjuster or has been the victim of an insurance fraud scam can also file a complaint online on the department's web page or by calling the storm hotline.  
 
As a statewide elected officer of the Florida Cabinet, Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher oversees the Department of Financial Services, a multi-division state agency responsible for management of state funds and unclaimed property, assisting consumers who request information and help related to financial services, and investigating financial fraud. As former insurance commissioner, Gallagher is best known for his leadership in the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew.  He marshaled public and private, state and federal resources to expedite claims handling and protect consumers against price gouging, creating an environment where affected Floridians could start on the road to recovery. Gallagher also serves as the State Fire Marshal.