Fla. CFO Encourages Palm Bay Tornado Victims to Access Storm Hotline

March 2, 2005

Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher is urging residents in Palm Bay whose homes were damaged by this past Sunday’s tornado to call the Department of Financial Services’ storm hotline at 1-800-22-STORM if they need help checking the licensure of an adjuster or filing an insurance claim.

A tornado with winds of up to 112 mph struck Palm Bay late Sunday afternoon, damaging at least two dozen homes and leaving as many as 14 uninhabitable, according to local law enforcement reports.

“Our consumer specialists are available to help answer questions about insurance adjusters or what steps to take before an adjuster arrives,” Gallagher said. “I would especially urge residents to be particularly wary if any adjuster or contractor demands cash and to read and understand contracts before signing.”

Gallagher recommends that property owners take the following actions if they suffered tornado damage:

• Make emergency repairs to protect from further damage, document the damage and repairs in writing, and with receipts and photos.
• Immediately report property damage to an insurance agent and company.
• Gather copies of any household inventory and other documentation, including photos. This will assist the adjuster in assessing the value of the destroyed property.
• If one must leave their home because of the damage, let the agent or insurance company know the temporary forwarding address and phone number.
• Beware of fly-by-night repair businesses. Hire licensed and reputable service people.
• If considering the assistance of a public insurance adjuster, verify that they are licensed by calling the department’s storm hotline.
• Be sure to understand how much a public insurance adjuster is charging and what services are included before signing any contract.

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