Fla. Issues Emergency Order to Protect Homeowners in 12 Panhandle Counties

July 20, 2005

An emergency order has been issued to all property and casualty insurers and surplus lines insurers by Florida’s Commissioner of Insurance Regulation Kevin McCarty prohibiting carriers from canceling or failing to renew insurance for residential properties in a dozen northwest Florida counties in which homes were damaged by Hurricane Dennis.

The order applies to homeowners in counties covered by the order are in Bay, Calhoun, Escambia, Franklin, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, Wakulla, Walton and Washington counties. I does not apply to properties in any counties in which homes were not damaged by Dennis.

McCarty issued the emergency order based on authority the commission obtained after July 10, when Gov. Jeb Bush declared a state of emergency. The order protects homeowners while repairing hurricane-damaged properties and for 90 days after a home is repaired.

Florida Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty said that his action was “an efficient way to protect the policyholders of this state that have had their property damaged as a result of hurricane or wind loss.”

McCarty said preliminary estimates show property damage caused by Dennis range from $1.2 billion to $5.5 billion. In the Big Bend, at least 550 homes and dozens of businesses were destroyed or damaged by an estimated 10-foot storm surge that accompanied the storm. Damaged roads include a 20-mile stretch of U.S. Highway 98 between Carrabelle and Eastpoint that will require temporary repairs costing an estimated $10.8 million.

“The hurricane damage has resulted in the closing of businesses and financial institutions, the suspension of mail service, the displacement of persons from their homes, loss of personal belongings and corresponding temporary loss of employment,” the order said.

McCarty cited severe and continuing impacts remaining from the 2004 hurricane season, from which there continues to be a “lack of availability” of contractors to expeditiously repair damaged properties.

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