Volume 4 Number 4
January 26, 2007

Dear Floridian:

This week, the Legislature passed and the Governor signed a bill that will bring meaningful rate relief to many Floridians suffering from skyrocketing insurance premiums. Through a combination of efforts including expanding the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund, repealing onerous and unfounded rate increases, and giving consumers more choices in coverage, Florida’s homeowners should begin to feel a sigh of relief in the coming months.

One of the reasons we were able to help Floridians was by harnessing the power of bipartisanship. Democrats and Republicans worked together to put the people of Florida first, and that’s the way it should be here in our Capitol. I was honored to work with fine leaders in both the House and Senate, and the Governor, to develop thoughtful reform that would not risk the fiscal health of our state.

I look forward to working with the Legislature in the regular session amid this new spirit of cooperation. Floridians deserve nothing less.

Sincerely,

Alex Sink


 Florida Department of Financial Services logo


 

STATEMENT BY CFO SINK ON SPECIAL SESSION REFORMS

With the Legislature passing a bill at the close of the Special Session on hurricane insurance, Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink offered the following statement: 

“The Florida House and Senate are to be commended for their hard work over the past week.  By harnessing the power of bipartisanship, the Legislature was able to enact rate relief and take the first steps toward the long-term reform of Florida’s hurricane insurance market.”

“Additionally, I am pleased the Legislature balanced the need for immediate rate relief with the reality that we must guard the long-term fiscal health of our state.  Should we encounter truly devastating storms in the future, we must protect Floridians from being held liable for astronomical and unaffordable assessments.”


CFO ALEX SINK
OFFICE OF CABINET AFFAIRS

 

FLORIDA CABINET MEETS TUESDAY, JANUARY 30

Resolution: a formal statement of policy, opinion, will, belief, intent or appreciation voted by an official body or assembled group.

The Florida Cabinet confers honor and appreciation at each meeting to deserving Floridians and worthwhile ideas. At Tuesday's Cabinet meeting, Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink will present two resolutions -- one in appreciation of retiring state employee Hamilton “Buck” Oven, and one to help spread the word about the Earned Income Tax Credit available to low-income workers through the IRS.



 

CFO SINK ANNOUNCES THREE-DAY OPERATION TO ARREST DOZENS OF INDIVIDUALS ON INSURANCE FRAUD CHARGES

Culminating several months-long investigations, dozens of individuals from Pensacola to Miami will be arrested for insurance fraud schemes that totaled at least $1 million. Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink announced the three-day operation as it kicked off today, stating she wants to send a strong message that Florida will not tolerate this costly crime.

The charges stem from investigations by the Department of Financial Services’ Division of Insurance Fraud, a sworn law enforcement agency responsible for the investigation of insurance fraud. The division made nearly 800 insurance fraud-related arrests in the last fiscal year.

“Those who commit insurance fraud may think they are only hurting insurance companies, but insurance fraud causes real financial pain and hurts families, businesses and communities,” said Sink, who as CFO oversees the department (DFS). “Anyone found guilty of insurance fraud in Florida will pay for their crime.”
CONTINUED
 


 

SOUTH FLORIDA FISHING BOAT CAPTAIN REELS IN A BIG ONE WITH UNCLAIMED PROPERTY PROGRAM

For most of his life, Jay Cohen has made a living catching big fish or helping other people catch them. Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink helped the South Florida fishing boat captain reel in a big one when she delivered a check from stock accounts held by Cohen and his sister. The stocks were reported last August to the Department of Financial Services as abandoned.

The department’s Bureau of Unclaimed Property identified Cohen, of Fort Lauderdale, and his sister Leigh, of North Carolina, as the rightful owners and helped them get the money back for free. Jay Cohen said they do not want to disclose the amount of money, but he was more than happy to meet CFO Sink today on his day off to pick up the check. They met at the Pier 66 Marina in Fort Lauderdale.

“This may be one of the more fun aspects of my job,” said Sink, who as CFO oversees the department. “We are holding more than one-billion dollars’ worth of cash and property for Floridians who have lost track of it, and we are eager to return it to the rightful owners.”
CONTINUED


 

 

CFO SINK ANNOUNCES NEW ONLINE SEARCH FOR CONTRACTORS PARTICIPATING IN THE MY SAFE FLORIDA HOME PROGRAM

Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink Wednesday announced the launch of a new online search tool that will help Florida homeowners participating in the My Safe Florida Home program find approved contractors. By visiting www.mysafefloridahome.com, homeowners will be able to search by county or type of work performed from a universe of nearly 150 contractors approved to participate with the program.

“Today we are giving Florida homeowners the tools to make informed choices about the professionals they hire to help them improve their homes,” said CFO Sink, who oversees the Department of Financial Services. “Floridians looking to harden their homes can turn to the My Safe Florida Home website and know that the contractors who participate with us are properly trained to perform essential hurricane mitigation improvements.” CONTINUED
 

 

MAILING OF MITIGATION GRANT APPLICATIONS TO HOMEOWNERS ANNOUNCED BY CFO SINK

Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink announced that inspection reports and applications for matching grants are being mailed to homeowners who received free home inspections during the pilot phase of the My Safe Florida Home program. Nearly 14,000 Florida homeowners received free home inspections during the program’s pilot phase last year.

“I am excited that thousands of homeowners will soon be receiving valuable information about how they can harden their homes,” said Sink, who oversees the Department of Financial Services. “The 2007 hurricane season is rapidly approaching, and we want to arm these homeowners as quickly as possible with the information they need to protect their homes against the devastating effects of hurricanes.”
CONTINUED




 

CFO SINK SUSPENDS BROWARD INSURANCE AGENT; REQUIRES RESTITUTION OF MORE THAN $100,000

Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink has suspended the license of a South Florida insurance agent for twisting and misrepresenting the terms and conditions of life insurance and annuity products, scheming customers out of thousands of investment dollars. He is now required to pay over $100,000 in restitution to those consumers.

“The perpetrators of these crimes defraud Floridians out of millions of dollars,” said CFO Sink, who oversees the Florida Department of Financial Services. “We will not tolerate crimes against our consumers and I want to let these crooks know that we are coming after them.”
CONTINUED


 

SPANISH-SPEAKING FLORIDIANS ARE ENCOURAGED TO TUNE IN TO TELEMUNDO TAX INFORMATION PROGRAM

Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink is encouraging Florida’s Spanish-speaking residents to tune in to the national television network Telemundo this Sunday, January 28, for a special one-hour tax program with the Internal Revenue Service. The program, “Los Impuestos y Usted” (“Taxes and You”), will air at 3:30 p.m. Eastern and Pacific Time and 2:30 p.m. Central and Mountain Time.

“Los Impuestos y Usted” will focus on a variety of tax issues, including the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for low-income taxpayers, electronic filing (IRS e-file), Free File and tips on how to choose a tax preparer. IRS experts also will discuss taxpayers’ rights and how to obtain help with tax questions.

“I appreciate Telemundo sharing this timely information with viewers,” CFO Sink said. “I encourage residents to tune in and take notes so they can be sure that they are paying no more than their fair share.”

For more information in Spanish about the IRS, log on to http://www.irs.gov/espanol or toll-free by telephone at 1-800-829-1040, extension 8.