Florida Gov., Cabinet Impose Deadlines for Companies to Handle Claims

October 26, 2004

Gov. Jeb Bush and members of Florida’s Cabinet on Tuesday approved an emergency rule placing deadlines for insurance companies to assess, process and settle hurricane claims. Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher, who serves as a member of the state cabinet, commended his fellow members for taking steps to protect Florida’s insurance consumers.

“Floridians who responsibly purchase insurance and pay premiums expect service,” said Gallagher. “Firm deadlines will give thousands of Floridians peace of mind in getting their storm claims handled and set a goal that insurance companies must meet.”

Gallagher requested the emergency rule reportedly in response to numerous calls to the department’s hurricane hotline at 1-800-22-STORM from storm victims who have yet to see an adjuster or are waiting for an adjuster to return to do a damage assessment.

The emergency rule sets strict timeframes for insurance companies to make initial damage assessments, process and settle claims, including paying additional living expenses to Floridians unable to remain in their homes due to storm damage:

* For claims filed by Oct. 21 as a result of Tropical Storm Bonnie, Hurricane Charley or Hurricane Frances, the deadline is Nov. 22.
* For claims filed by Nov. 8 as result of Hurricane Ivan or Hurricane Jeanne, the deadline is Dec. 8.

According to Gallagher, insurance companies who fail to meet the deadlines face an administrative penalty of $2,500 per claim, per day.

Currently, insured losses due to the four back-to-back hurricanes have been estimated at $17.1 billion collectively. More than 1.3 million claims have been filed to date.

Editor’s note: See related articles in Southeast News.

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