Oct. 05--Florida insurers prepared Wednesday for the possibility of more than a side swipe from Hurricane Matthew, whose menacing forecast track kept millions watching anxiously up and down the nation's east coast.
"Policyholders need to remember that their personal safety is the highest priority," said Barry Gilway, president of state-run Citizens Property Insurance Corp. "Take precautions and follow instructions of local emergency management agencies."
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Citizens officials said they have "made the necessary initial contacts to deploy all the independent adjusters needed to service claims following the storm."
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This week, regulators approved up to 97,000 December offers for Citizens customers to switch to private insurance companies, though what happens with Matthew could have a big effect on the appetite of private carriers to take that business. Citizens has just under 500,000 customers including a little under 50,000 in Palm Beach County.
Florida Peninsula Insurance Co. and Edison Insurance Co. were among those closely watching the storm's progress and in some cases were even moving some operations to be ready.
The companies "have already prepared and have staged over 100 adjusters in preparation of Hurricane Matthew," said Roger Desjadon, the CEO for the companies. "In addition, our data center, located in Jacksonville, will temporarily move to an out of state facility to ensure we will be able to accommodate our policyholders."
Florida Peninsula, whose home office is in Boca Raton, has about 117,000 customers in Florida.
"Homeowners should prepare their homes by securing property, installing storm shutters, and staying informed to the latest storm track," Desjadon advised. "It is important to follow any safety measures or evacuation orders called for by local and state authorities."
Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater of North Palm Beach urged Floridians to "print copies of their banking account information and insurance policies as part of their disaster-readiness plans."
Homeowners should take steps to prepare, said the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America's Florida manager Logan McFaddin.
"This caliber of a system could bring major flooding and damages along Florida's East Coast," she said.
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