Fla.’s Goal: Have Hurricane Program Functional in 60 Days

May 19, 2006

Hurricane season begins in June 1 and Florida’s Department of Financial Services employees are hurriedly attempting to help thousands of Floridians strengthen their homes against hurricanes and save money on insurance premiums, Tom Gallagher, Florida’s CFO told Insurance Journal.

Gallagher said his department is doing “great.” Its goal is to prepare and implement Florida’s Comprehensive Hurricane Damage Mitigation Program in 60 days.

“With $250 million dedicated for the program, this is an unprecedented opportunity to help thousands of Floridians strengthen their homes against hurricanes and save money on their insurance premiums,” Gallagher explained.

Gov. Jeb Bush signed the bill into law May 16 and that same day, Gallagher assembled a team of people to start implementation of the Comprehensive Hurricane Damage Mitigation Program. The program will offer free home inspections and matching grants up to $5,000 for home improvements allowable under the law.

To qualify for the new homeowner’s grants, eligible homeowners must have a homestead exemption and must have a site-built home with an insured value of less than $500,000.

According to Gallagher, distribution of matching grants are contingent upon a free home inspection being done first through the program. Homeowners will have to apply for free inspections. The department is aiming to have information available on how to apply in approximately. 60 days.

Inspection reports will have to include:

1. What improvements to your home may be made to mitigate hurricane damage.

2. How much each improvement would cost to do.

3. What insurance discounts are available for each improvement.

Grant monies may be distributed to help homeowners via retrofitters, local governments and non-profits.

“The new law guides us to develop rules and to establish criteria for the program that contemplate reducing hurricane exposure in Florida,” Gallagher explained. “It focuses on homeowners in high-risk areas and properties insured by Citizens Property Insurance Corp., Florida’s insurer of last resort.”

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