Thursday night, six months after Hurricane Jeanne hit the east coast, Tom Gallagher, Florida’s CFO, met for the sixth in a series of seven town hall meetings to discuss unpaid claims with 250 homeowners in Jupiter, Fla. Gallagher and his staff will hold the final town hall meeting April 9, 9 a.m. to noon, in the Bartow High School, 1270 S. Broadway in Bartow, Fla.
As at previous town hall meetings, Gallagher listened patiently to hurricane victims about outstanding claims and uncompleted repairs. Subsequently he assigned a Department of Financial Services employee to escort the homeowner outside where a record number of 25 insurance company representatives discussed the claim and sometimes wrote a check on the spot.
Mary Vowteras, for instance, left an insurance town hall meeting with a check for more than $11,000 from state-backed Citizens Property Insurance Corp. — enough for the retiree to pay for long-awaited repairs to her Jupiter home.
“I never do this stuff, but I knew I had to fight for me,” Vowteras told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
For many, the meetings are simply a chance to vent about their insurance companies, or the problems they’ve had in the aftermath of Florida’s four hurricanes last year. Others, like Vowteras, use it as an opportunity to talk to insurance company representatives about their individual cases.
“The one-on-one attention can pay off. At one town hall meeting in Pensacola, more than 1,000 people showed up and 143 people took home checks that night,” Tami Torres a DFS spokesperson said.
Getting money “is obviously pretty monumental, given that we’re about 60 days away from the next hurricane season,” Torres said.