The damage could have been much worse in South Florida, but Hurricane Matthew is still likely to produce tens of thousands of insurance claims and homeowners should take steps to protect themselves in the days ahead, the state’s top financial officer said Friday.
CFO Jeff Atwater of North Palm Beach visited places including Palm Beach Gardens and parts of Martin County Friday.
“We’re still going to have significant claims, but far less than we could have had,” Atwater told The Palm Beach Post. “We were really fortunate last night.”
Atwater said he was aware of anecdotal reports of roof damage and trees falling on cars. State-run Citizens Property Insurance Corp. told Atwater it had received 47 claims in a morning briefing, but Atwater expects more to come as residents who were evacuated, for example, return to check damage.
Palm Beach Gardens-based Olympus Insurance Co. figured 52,000 of its 85,000 policyholders might have been exposed to winds ranging from 30 mph to 109 mph. Customers can call (866) 281-2242 if they have questions or need assistance with a claim, company officials said.
“Our disaster response teams are positioned and ready to respond quickly to assist our customers with tarping, board-up and tree removal as required,” CEO Jeffrey B. Scott said.
Olympus customers exposed to the storm represent about $27.2 billion of insured value, he said. About 66 percent were exposed to winds up to 69 mph, he estimated, and 2 percent got hit with winds up to 109 mph.
Among the tips from Atwater’s office: Make sure contractors offering to fix roofs or other damage are reputable. Tell your insurance company as soon as you can about a claim. Take photos or video before attempting any temporary repairs.
Consumers with questions can call an insurance helpline Atwater oversees at 1-877-MY-FL-CFO (1-877-693-5236).