TALLAHASSEE, Fla.— Florida Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and State Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis has been on the ground in the Panhandle affected counties since Hurricane Michael made landfall. Floridians are urged to call Patronis’ Insurance Help Line at 1-877-MY-FL-CFO to report anything suspicious.
CFO Jimmy Patronis said, “Two months ago today, the Florida Panhandle was devastated by Hurricane Michael. While we have made great strides in recovery, we must continue to rebuild. My office has already recovered $1.1 million for storm victims and will continue working to build a stronger, better Florida.”
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INSURANCE CONSUMER ASSISTANCE Patronis’ Division of Consumer Services has received 263 insurance company complaints following Hurricane Michael.
Roughly 19 percent of consumer calls have resulted in company complaints. For comparison, this is an increase in complaints of 7 percent for the same time period following Hurricane Irma.
$1.1 million has been recovered to date on behalf of Hurricane Michael victims.
73 percent of the complaints from Hurricane Michael involve a claim handling/adjuster delay.
17 percent of the complaints from Hurricane Michael involve a claim denial, claim underpayment or an unsatisfactory claim settlement offer.
HURRICANE MICHAEL EXTENSIONS On Thursday December 6, Governor Rick Scott signed an executive order extending the State of Emergency for the Hurricane Michael impacted counties for an additional 60 days. The deadline for victims to register for disaster assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has also been extended until Monday, December 17. To apply, please visit www.disasterassistance.gov or call 1-800-621-3362.
The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) has extended the application deadlines for both Disaster Unemployment Assistance and the Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program to Monday, December 31. To file a DUA claim, visit www.FloridaJobs.org or call 1-800-385-3920.
Patronis extended continuing education deadlines for licensed insurance professionals due to Hurricane Michael recovery efforts. Patronis extended certification deadlines for fire professionals due to Hurricane Michael recovery efforts.
INSURANCE CLAIMS There are 131,562 insurance claims associated with Hurricane Michael – this number will grow Estimated $4,282,853,621 in insured losses. As of December 3, there were 3,261 Citizens Property Insurance Corporation claims.
EMERGENCY/LICENSED ADJUSTERS Florida currently has 93,551 licensed and appointed adjusters. There are also 3,681 emergency adjusters available to respond to Hurricane Michael claims (in addition to the 93,551).
URBAN SEARCH AND RESCUE TEAMS CFO Jimmy Patronis’ Division of State Fire Marshal oversees activation of Florida’s Urban Search and Rescue Teams. At peak, there were 2,420 personnel deployed from all over Florida and 12 different states. Searches are 100 percent complete.
Patronis met with Task Force 1, Task Force 3, Task Force 4, and Task Force 5.
Combined Urban Search and Rescue efforts exceeded Hurricane Irma response by 30 percent.
INSURANCE VILLAGES; ANTI-FRAUD STRIKE TEAMS
Constant boots on the ground in all affected counties.
Patronis’ Disaster Fraud Action Strike Teams are on the ground, raising awareness about post-storm fraud and searching for anyone trying to prey on residents.
Patronis’ Disaster Fraud Action Strike teams removed three unlicensed contractors conducting business in Leon, Gadsden, and Gulf counties. The contractors are banned from soliciting or conducting any work in Florida pending a full investigation.
Patronis’ teams are continuing to investigate reports of potential fraud in Bay, Gulf, Washington, and Leon counties. Unlicensed activity can put homeowners and contractors at risk and opens the door to fraud. Consumers should always verify that contractors have the appropriate licenses, including workers’ compensation coverage, before they hire a company to assist in repairs after a storm.
Patronis hosted an insurance village in Marianna on Monday, October 22 until Tuesday, October 23. There were 17 insurance companies on hand to assist residents.
Patronis hosted an insurance village in Tallahassee on Thursday, October 18. There were 18 insurance companies on hand to assist residents.
Patronis hosted an insurance village in Bay County on Tuesday, October 16 until Friday, October 19. There were more than 44 insurance companies and FEMA on hand to assist residents with any insurance or financial assistance questions. T-Mobile, AT&T, and Verizon were also present at the insurance village. Insurance consumer experts were on the ground in Liberty and Gadsden counties on Saturday, October 20 to assist residents with the insurance claims process.
There are teams from Patronis’ Office and Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier’s Office in Bay County, Wakulla County, Franklin County, Gulf County, Washington County, Jackson County, Liberty County, Calhoun County, Holmes County, and Taylor County.
Patronis’ and Commissioner Altmaier’s Offices attended multiple townhall meetings in Washington, Liberty, Holmes and Jackson Counties the last two weeks to discuss recovery efforts with community leaders and residents.
Before the storm hit, Patronis and Commissioner Altmaier hosted a conference call with major insurance carriers in the Panhandle, putting them on notice so that they would be ready to serve Florida families after Hurricane Michael.
On November 19, Patronis and Commissioner Altmaier hosted a conference call with major insurance carriers in the panhandle on recent alarming trends in consumer complaints associated with Hurricane Michael. Patronis called on the industry to remove any barriers associated with the claims process to help families and businesses recover quickly. Patronis’ Disaster Fraud Action Strike Team (DFAST) has deployed three waves of fraud detectives in impacted areas. They’ve coordinated with multiple Sheriff’s Offices and police departments throughout the Panhandle to offer our resources to investigate fraud and passed out over 3,000 educational brochures on fraud awareness and reporting.
CFO Jimmy Patronis urged banks and credit unions to waive fees, which could include late fees for lending products including credit cards, auto loans, personal loans and lines of credit, and Not Sufficient Funds (NSF).
Patronis encouraged banks and credit unions to also waive fees for customers using non-network ATMs or money transfer services.
Patronis also encouraged banks and credit unions to offer other provisions for Hurricane Michael victims that can speed recovery or limit undue financial hardship for as at least 90 days.
CFO Jimmy Patronis sent a LETTER and spoke with FCC Chairman Pai on Friday, October 19, urging the FCC to recommend best practices to pre-position equipment so companies are prepared to come in and make repairs quickly after a hurricane passes.
Patronis urged the FCC to also put into place standards for carriers to open their roaming agreements after a disaster is declared would help expedite response efforts and make it easier for residents to call for help.
Met with Verizon Wireless officials and asked them to have representatives stationed at the Bay County Emergency Operations Center. Verizon currently has maintained a consistent presence.
OFFICIALS AND BUSINESSES
Met with Bay County Schools Superintendent Bill Husfelt.
Met with Bay County Sheriff Tommy Ford, Gadsden County Sheriff Morris A. Young, Jackson County Sheriff Louis “Lou” Roberts, Liberty County Sheriff Eddie Joe White, and Calhoun County Sheriff Glenn Kimbrel.
Patronis and his staff spoke with Franklin County Sheriff A.J. Smith, Gulf County Sheriff Mike Harrison, Holmes County Sheriff John Tate, Taylor County Sheriff Wayne Padgett, Wakulla County Sheriff Jared Miller, and Washington County Sherriff Kevin Crews.
Met with Lynn Haven Mayor Margo Anderson and city commissioners.
Met with Governor Rick Scott and Attorney Pam Bondi on recovery efforts.
Met with Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier at the emergency insurance village in Bay County.
Met Gulf County local and emergency management officials and the surveyed the area.
Met with Stan Connally, Gulf Power president and CEO, on power restoration efforts.
Met with a T-Mobile representative to discuss restoring wireless service in the Hurricane Michael impacted areas.
Met with AT&T Communications, LLC CEO John Donovan to discuss Hurricane Michael recovery efforts.
Met with Wells Fargo Lead Region Bank President Scott Coble to discuss operations in the impacted counties.
Spoke with Comcast on restoration updates and internet availability options.