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If home damaged, call insurer first

Published June 13, 2006

As Alberto passes and the focus shifts to the damage left behind, insurance industry officials advise homeowners to immediately contact their agents if they need to file a claim, to make temporary repairs, and to keep their receipts.

"Hopefully, people have taken steps to document their valuables and have their insurance policy in a safe place,'' said Gary Landry, vice president of the Florida Insurance Council, a group of about 250 insurance companies that do business in the state. "We'll bring in special claims adjusters as needed.

"The industry is in good shape and ready for this should claims be necessary,'' he said Monday.

Many insurers, including Allstate and State Farm, have toll-free hotlines for questions about claims. But many homes along the coast are insured by Citizens Property Insurance Corp., the state-run insurer of last resort. Private insurers service Citizens policies, but claims are paid by Citizens.

"The best thing people can do is call our toll-free number (1-866-411-2742),'' Citizens spokesman Justin Glover said Monday, "because the claim gets logged immediately.''

In the meantime, homeowners with damage should make temporary repairs, Glover said. "Get a tarp on your roof, and you'll be reimbursed for that repair. Keep track of your receipts and contractor estimates, and keep meal and hotel receipts to be reimbursed for living expenses.

"We're ready to handle any and all claims.''

But like other insurers, Citizens does not cover flood damage. For that, residents need to contact the Federal Emergency Management Agency, toll-free at 1-800-621-3362, which administers the National Flood Insurance Program.

[Last modified June 13, 2006, 05:11:39]

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