Hurricane Victims Have Until March 1 to File Claims; State to Pay Multiple Deductibles

December 20, 2004

Hurricane victims who are eligible for reimbursements from the state for paying the cost of multiple insurance deductibles won’t have to wait long for their money, according to Florida Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher.

Gov. Jeb Bush will soon sign a bill into law which will provide relief for the more than 30,000 people hit with more than one hurricane insurance deductible.

The bill provides for hurricane victims, who have already paid a second deductible, to be reimbursed up to $10,000. Property owners who paid three of four deductibles could receive up to $20,000.

Gallagher said his goal is to get that money into the hands of hurricane victims as quickly as possible. The new law requires victims to submit applications no later than March 1 next year.

According to the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation, insurance claims on one-in-five Floridians who had homes damaged by hurricanes have not been settled.

In early November, Gallagher suggested an emergency rule setting up deadlines when insurance companies “had” to settle claims, but the target dates have passed and few companies paid any attention. Claims for Hurricane Charley were supposed to be settled by Nov. 22, and the deadline for hurricanes Ivan and Frances was Dec. 8.

According to Sen. Rudy Garcia, chairman of the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee, nine of the top-10 insurers with hurricane claims have closed only 90 percent or less of their claims. There is no law in Florida, requiring claims to be settled within a certain time, a point state regulators note when reviewing late claims complaints against insurance companies.

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