In response to a call by the Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher, Gov. Jeb Bush and the Cabinet has approved an emergency rule to expedite the resolution of open claims from last year’s tropical storm and four hurricanes.
The emergency rule requires insurers to settle and pay all outstanding personal residential claims and commercial residential claims resulting from Hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan or Jeanne and Tropical Storm Bonnie no later than April 18.
Claims not settled and paid by April 18 must be reported to the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation by April 28. The report must contain the policyholder’s name, policy and claim number, and a detailed explanation of why the claim has not been settled and paid.
The rule mandates that outstanding claims be settled within the next 30 days unless the claim is being litigated, is awaiting mediation, or has been recently opened and loss estimates have not been received. There have been over 1.6 million claims filed from last year’s hurricanes; approximately 91 percent of them have been closed, according to data compiled by the Office of Insurance Regulation.
“It’s been over six months since these storms devastated our state,” Gallagher, who serves as a members of the Florida Cabinet said. “Floridians, who responsibly paid their premiums on time expect these claims to be settled and paid so they can start to rebuild their homes. We expect insurance companies to step up to the plate and resolve their outstanding claims. The measure we approve today will help hold insurers’ feet to the fire.”
Gallagher has held three of five scheduled hurricane recovery town hall meetings around the state, where more than 2,000 people have expressed frustration with their insurance companies and in many cases have requested assistance.
To date, the Department of Financial Services has received over 300,000 phone calls and has handled over 53,000 complaints. More than 10,000 complaints are still unresolved. In response to storm victims’ frustration, Gallagher called for the emergency rule to protect the economic health and welfare of the state and to assist Floridians still working to get their homes and their lives back to normal.
Gallagher will hold a town hall meeting March 19 in Orlando, 9 a.m. to noon at the Dr. Phillips High School, 6500 Turkey Lake Road.
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