Governor Provides Update on Response Efforts
Governor Rick Scott provided an update on resources being deployed to Puerto Rico to assist with recovery and response efforts following Hurricane Maria.
See below for more information on what the State of Florida is doing to support Puerto Rico:
- Four senior leaders from the FLNG are in Puerto Rico providing support for air space operations and communications. These personnel assisted with movement of FDLE personnel and equipment into Puerto Rico over the past weekend.
- The Florida Air National Guard's 101st Air and Space Operations Group (AOG) continues to coordinate all military airflow in the Joint Operations Area through the execution of the AOC's Regional Air Mobility Coordination Center (RAMCC). To date, they have coordinated over 1,000 flights, bringing over 6,000 personnel and 8,500 tons of cargo in support of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
- FDLE has coordinated a request for 160 law enforcement officers that are standing by to deploy to Puerto Rico to supplement Puerto Rican law enforcement. These assets will come from New Jersey and Michigan.
- An eight-member FDLE incident management team is in Puerto Rico to distribute supplies and assist local law enforcement officers.
- An eight-member multi-agency incident management team is in Puerto Rico this week to help assess law enforcement needs. Agencies with members on the team include FDLE, FWC, FHP and DFS.
- The Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles has deployed two Florida Licensing on Wheels (FLOW) Mobiles to the relief center at the Orlando International Airport and the Miami International Airport to provide credentialing services to impacted customers. One FLOW Mobile bus is outside the relief center and one FLOW mini unit is inside the relief center.
DIVISION OF EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT
- Since October 3rd, 2017, approximately 20,000 individuals arrived in Florida from Puerto Rico through Miami International Airport, Orlando International Airport and Port Everglades.
BUSINESS AND REGULATION
- Governor Rick Scott directed the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) Secretary Jonathan Zachem to issue an Emergency Order suspending all fees required for occupational license applications for residents of Puerto Rico who were impacted by Hurricane Maria and are now in Florida. This includes over 50 different individual professional license types, such as barbers and realtors. By suspending fees, residents from Puerto Rico will be able to obtain a license from the state more quickly and continue their careers in Florida. Click here to view the Emergency Order suspending all fees required for occupational license applications for residents of Puerto Rico who were impacted by Hurricane Maria and are now in Florida.
- The Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) and the local CareerSource boards deployed staff to meet evacuees at the Disaster Assistance Centers (DACs) opened at the Miami International Airport and Orlando International Airport last week. Staff are on-site to provide information about resources available to assist them in Florida.
- The Florida Retail Federation (FRF) is working with the State Emergency Response Team (SERT) and Florida’s major retailers to help Puerto Rico retailers’ operational status and requests for assistance.
- At Governor Scott’s direction, the Office of Early Learning (OEL) has temporarily waived rules and regulations that will allow Florida’s 30 early learning coalitions to enroll Puerto Rican children whose education records are unavailable due to the storm. This will make it easier for young children to continue their early learning education through Florida Voluntary Prekindergarten Program (VPK) and School Readiness Programs. To view the order, Enrollment and Participation in the Voluntary Prekindergarten Program and the School Readiness Program by Families Displaced by Hurricane Maria.
- At Governor Scott’s direction, the Florida Department of Education (DOE) has temporarily waived rules and regulations that will allow Florida public school districts to enroll Puerto Rican students whose education records are unavailable due to the storm. The Governor also directed DOE to waive the educator certificate application fee and other requirements to help Puerto Rican educators displaced by the storm more easily continue their teaching careers in Florida. Upon receiving a request from a district superintendent, DOE will waive the application fee for an initial educator certificate and will allow the acceptance of an unofficial transcript of teaching degrees or copies of a valid teaching certificate issued by another state or U.S. territory. Click here to view the Emergency Order Relating to Students and Teachers displaced by Hurricane Maria.
- At the direction of Governor Scott, Commissioner Stewart also signed a supplemental order authorizing state colleges to waive existing rules and other requirements to help Puerto Rican students more quickly enroll in college. At the request of Governor Scott, all 28 Florida College System institutions have agreed to offer in-state tuition to Puerto Rican students who were impacted by Hurricane Maria. Click here to view the Emergency Order Removing Obstacles for Florida College System Institutions Enrolling Students displaced by Hurricane Maria.
Governor Suspends Occupational License Applications for Displaced Puerto Ricans
Governor Scott directed the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) to issue an Emergency Order suspending all fees required for occupational license applications for residents of Puerto Rico who were impacted by Hurricane Maria and are now in Florida.
The directive will include over 50 different individual professional license types, such as barbers and realtors. By suspending fees, residents from Puerto Rico will be able to obtain a license from the state more quickly and continue their careers in Florida.
Governor Scott said, “As families from Puerto Rico relocate to Florida following the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria, it is crucial that we continue to do all we can to make it easier for these individuals to rebuild their lives and provide for their families. Today, I have directed the Department of Business and Professional Regulation to take immediate action to suspend licensing fees that would hinder or delay recovery efforts so these families can get back on their feet and continue successful careers in our state.”
DBPR Secretary Jonathan Zachem said, “Following Hurricane Maria, the Department is working to provide necessary resources to help families and individuals recover and get to work more quickly. We appreciate the leadership of Governor Scott in helping these families, and hope that by eliminating burdensome fees, residents from Puerto Rico will be able to continue their livelihood here in Florida.” Click here to view the Emergency Order suspending all fees required for occupational license applications for residents of Puerto Rico who were impacted by Hurricane Maria and are now in Florida.
Citizens Lifts Binding Suspension
Citizens has lifted binding suspension as a result of Tropical Storm Nate, effective 11:00am ET on October 8, 2017. All regular Citizens business operations have resumed.
NAIC Provides Support to Puerto Rico After Storms
Due to power outages and damage from Hurricane Maria, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) is assisting the Office of the Insurance Commissioner of Puerto Rico with communications to consumers, media and the insurance industry.
"I have issued this immediate directive because it is crucial that priority be given to the claims made by insured persons in sectors key to getting our Island back from the catastrophe caused by Hurricane Maria," Puerto Rico Insurance Commissioner Javier Rivera Ríos said. "We urge these insureds to file as soon as possible the claim of loss or damage to their property and casualty insurer, including photos and/or videos and a detailed inventory of the affected property."
NAIC Puerto Rico Consumer Information
This information is being provided by the Office of the Insurance Commissioner of Puerto Rico through the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) website.
Insurance consumers needing assistance can call: 866-874-4905
Address: Oficina del Comisionado de Seguros de Puerto Rico (Office of the Insurance Commissioner of Puerto Rico). B5 Calle Tabonuco Suite 216. PMB 356, Guaynabo, PR 00968-3029.
Consumer References - Claims
When filing a claim under your property insurance for hurricane damages, do you have the necessary information and documents for it to be processed?
- Prepare a detailed list, including costs, date of purchase, and serial numbers of all your household items.
- Add receipts to the list or inventory page. Your insurance company may request a copy of the receipts for any other items you claim.
- Take pictures or videos, of all your belongings and the structure that were damaged. Include the dates you took them. Also include photographs taken before the disaster.
Can you make repairs on your home before making the insurance claim?
Consider the following aspects:
- Make temporary repairs to protect your home and your property from major damage.
- Cover holes on the roof and walls with wood panels and use high resistance plastic to cover broken windows.
- Take pictures of damaged areas and goods.
- Be sure to receive proof of payment for labor and materials.
- Keep records, invoices and proof of payment until authorized representative, producer or adjuster visits you.
Do you know how to file an insurance claim after a hurricane or flood?
- Inspect your home for damage, if you do not have power, use a flashlight and avoid using candles to prevent possible fires.
- Report the situation to your insurer, producer or authorized representative in charge of your policy as soon as possible.
- Provide an address and a telephone number where you can be reached in case you have vacated your home.
- Present your photographs and inventory to help the adjuster assess damages.
- Have patience. Cases are processed according to their severity or difficulty.
Do you know if your property insurance covers you even if you had to evict your residence because of the threat of a disaster?
Effectively, your insurance covers you, but before you evict your home:
- Cover all windows and doors.
- Secure all furniture and other items outside the home. -If you live in a mobile home, check that the moorings are secure.
- Inventory your belongings and take photos or video of everything.
- Check that your insurance cover is adequate to protect those assets that you want to protect.
Do you know what to do if you want to make changes to your policy to protect your home?
- If you want to make changes to your policy, do not wait until the hurricane is imminent, call your insurer, producer or authorized representative as soon as possible. Then it might be too late. Do not waste time and act today before the first hurricane winds destroy what you have built with so much sacrifice.
- Any one of them can give you information about the premiums and covers available.
Where should you keep the documents related to your insurance policy?
Keep a copy of all important documents related to your residence insurance in a safe deposit box or in a safe place.
These documents include the insurance policy, inventories, and telephone numbers of your authorized representative, producer, and insurer.
You need this information to make your claim, if your property is damaged. As soon as you receive the evacuation notice, take all the documents related to the insurance policy you have kept in your home.
Who should claim your insurance?
File your claim directly with the insurer if possible. If this is not possible, you can do so through your producer or authorized representative. An adjuster will assist you in this process.
The adjuster is a professionally trained person to determine the monetary amount that must be paid for the loss or damage occurred and claimed under an insurance policy.
The insurer will assign you an adjuster to service your claim. This represents the insurer. If you want to hire one that represents you, you must hire a public adjuster.
The public adjuster and the independent, must be licensed by the Office of the Insurance Commissioner for the line of business for which they perform the work.
Do you know how long to wait to receive payment of your claim?
The investigation, adjustment and resolution of any claim shall be made in the period of forty-five (45) after having submitted to the insurer all documents that are necessary to dispose of said claim.
The insurer may extend that first period, but such extension may never exceed ninety (90) days from the date the claim was submitted.
After the disaster when your property has been damaged
- Call your producer, authorized representative or insurance company as soon as possible with your policy number or other pertinent information by hand. Ask what documents, forms, data or related information will be needed to initiate the claim. Keep a diary of all your conversations with insurers, creditors, producers, authorized representatives or adjusters.
- Take pictures or video of the damages.
- Make the necessary repairs to avoid additional damage to your property (covers broken windows, seals roof leaks and cracked walls) Do not make permanent arrangements until the insurance company has inspected the property and a cost agreement has been reached of repairs.
- Keep all receipts, including those for temporary repairs covered under your policy.
- If your property suffers from such damages that it is impossible to occupy it to live, ask your insurer if you are covered by additional housing costs.
- Take particular care with certain contractors who require full payment before starting the repair or before finishing the work. If the contractor needs the payment to purchase materials, go to the contractor and pay the supplier directly.
- Get more than one quote. Ask for references. Check with the Better Business Bureau or the Department of Consumer Affairs (DACO) for the contractor's reputation. Ask about your licenses, permits and insurance. Record the license plate and license number of the contractor.
- Contact the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance at 1-866-874-4905, free of charge, and through the website www.maria2017.naic.org. In the event of a dispute with your insurer regarding the transaction terms for the claim, contact us or visit us at GAM Tower, B5 Calle Tabonuco Suite 216, Guaynabo, PR.
The NAIC and the Office of the Insurance Commissioner are objective sources of information to help consumers understand the intricacies of insurance coverage.
Consumer Resources: Information for Finding Loved Ones in Puerto Rico
The American Red Cross Safe and Well website is a free public reunification tool that allows individuals and organizations to register and post messages to search for loved ones, or for individuals to indicate that they are safe. The site is always available, open to the public, and available in English and Spanish. There are a number of ways to use this service:
- Registrations and searches can be done directly on the website.
- Registrations can also be completed by texting SAFE to 78876. Messages exist in both Spanish and English.
- To speak with someone at the American Red Cross concerning a missing friend or relative who has a serious, pre-existing health or mental health condition, please contact 1-800 Red Cross (1-800-733-2767).
- The American Red Cross Emergency App features an "I'm Safe" button that allows users to post a message to their social accounts, letting friends and family know they are out of harm's way. The app can be downloaded for free in app stores by searching for "American Red Cross" or by texting 'GETEMERGENCY' to 90999.
Information for Insurers
English versions of these directives will be provided when they are translated.
Recursos, Avisos e Informacion para los Aseguradores
Communicado a Todas las Aseguradoras (PDF)
Carta Circular Num.: CC-2017-1910-D (PDF)
Extension de Término de Expiracion de Licensias y Requesto de Pogo de Derechos
Carta Normativa Num.: CN-2017-220-D (PDF)
Método de Ajuste Rápido y Equitativo
Carta Normativa Num.: CN-2017-221-D (PDF)
Suspencion Primas y Preautorizaciones (PDF)
Carta Normativa Num.:C-2017-220-D (PDF)
A todas las aseguradoras de bienes y accidentes autorizadas para hacer negocios en Puerto Rico ya todos los ajustadores públicos y independientes.
RE: Método para proporcionar un ajuste rápido y justo de las reclamaciones de política comercial derivadas del huracán María.
Statement from H.E. Governor Augustus Jaspert
People of the Virgin Islands, I come to you today as part of my regular schedule of updates to you following the impact of Hurricane Irma.
Before I give my update, I wanted to reflect that today is one month since Irma devastated the Territory. I know we have all been through a lot in the last month. Each of us will have a personal and family story of what we have been through and how we have been impacted. The journey ahead will be long, but we are making progress each day. I have been astounded by the strength and resilience of communities and we have shown the true best of the Virgin Islands. As a relative newcomer to the Virgin Islands I am immensely proud to call here my home and my community.
I am conscious that whilst we will all have privately reflected in our own way, we have not had an opportunity as a Territory to recognise what we have been through and what we face ahead. To mark the month from Irma, the Cabinet and I would like to invite you to a one hour gathering to be held this afternoon (Friday October 6), at the Queen Elizabeth II Park. This will start at 4:30 and ending at 5:30 to recognise those persons we sadly lost, to reflect on the suffering we face and to also give thanks for spared lives. For those who cannot make it, I hope that we can still join in hearts and minds later today.
By way of update on our road to recovery. Immediately following Irma and after consultations with the Premier and Cabinet, I declared a State of Emergency for the Territory which also allowed for the implementation of a curfew. As I indicated yesterday, my intention is to end the State of Emergency as soon as possible subject to the passage of a Curfew Act in the House of Assembly.
The Curfew Act was passed in the House of Assembly yesterday which will allow a curfew to be in place without the State of Emergency as we restore vital services and move forward with the Territory’s recovery plan. In light of this, the State of Emergency ended yesterday. This is an important step as we move forward.
I am putting in place today, under the new Curfew Act, a revised curfew. My and Cabinet’s aim is to make sure we support people, communities and business to return to normal as quickly as possible, but also that people feel secure when large areas of the Territory are still without electricity. Therefore, the Cabinet has agreed that the curfew will now be in place from 10:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. daily.
All previous passes issued for access during the curfew period are no longer valid. Essential workers will be able to obtain a pass via the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force, who will issue further details later.
I continue to support the Premier and his Ministers as we move towards fully implementing the Recovery Plan. This vision is one which will see the Virgin Islands become even better than it was before.
Ministers are working on key programmes in their respective areas. Plans are being finalised for housing needs for those affected by Irma but who are not insured; and a plan is in place for education, and I am pleased that schools have started to reopen. A number of Ministries and departments suffered considerable losses during Irma and as previously mentioned we have re-established government services and we are identifying critical resources which need to be quickly replaced.
The Virgin Islands Fire and Rescue Service suffered losses to its building and vehicles. The United Kingdom (UK) Government has therefore provided two multi-purpose fire appliances vehicles which were handed over to the Virgin Islands Fire and Rescue Service today to aid in its ability to respond to emergency situations that may arise. We are very grateful.
The Department of Disaster Management (DDM) which has transitioned to the National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) lost nearly 40 years of investment in technology and equipment which are important to monitor and provide early warning of hazards that can threaten the BVI. Efforts are being made to restore the department’s National Emergency Broadcasting System which includes sirens, monitoring devices and communications networks essential for any disaster management system, along with the department’s building—which were also destroyed.
Military assistance from the United Kingdom working alongside Virgin Islands Government services has been essential in addressing security issues, providing relief support and technical expertise for communications and infrastructure. As our recovery strengthens it was right that yesterday, the bulk of the UK military personnel left the Territory. The ship RFA Mounts Bay is still in Road Harbour and a core team of specialist engineers will remain to support infrastructural repairs. The Premier and I yesterday recognised and passed on our appreciation on behalf of the entire Territory to the UK military.
By way of reassurance, the National Security Council met yesterday and I and the Council are briefed regularly by the Police Commissioner on security matters. I am also grateful that we have continued support from police officers from the UK and our friends in other overseas territories.
Going forward, my plan is to issue weekly addresses, every Friday but if any urgent matters arise I, the Premier or the relevant Minister will speak with you before then.
As we move forward now, let me urge everyone to continue to demonstrate the community spirit of togetherness and resilience that has contributed to our progress to date. The recovery efforts need to keep that same spirit of togetherness and mutual support shown so far for us to be successful as we go forward.
And on this day that marks one month since Irma, may God continue to protect and bless us all in the Virgin Islands.
Thank you and stay strong.