CFO Alex Sink photo

Volume 4 Number 13
March 30, 2007

Dear Floridian:

Everyday, I work to ensure you and your families have a bright future, by safeguarding our state’s finances and monitoring issues that affect Florida’s economy.  I am eager to spread awareness to Floridians about the safety and financial incentives of hardening their homes against natural disasters.

This week I announced that the My Safe Florida Home program began mailing grant money to Florida homeowners who have hardened their homes against hurricanes through the program.  The homeowners, who received free wind inspections during the pilot phase of the program, are being reimbursed for half the cost of a variety of home improvements, including hurricane shutters, reinforced garage doors and roof enhancements. 

I encourage you to visit the My Safe Florida Home website at http://www.mysafefloridahome.com/ to find out more information about our program, and how you can make your home a stronger, safer place to live.

 Sincerely,

Alex Sink



 

 

CFO SINK ANNOUNCES FIRST MITIGATION GRANTS BEING MAILED TO FLORIDA HOMEOWNERS
More than 4,000 Floridians hardening their homes through the My Safe Florida Home Program

Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink announced that ten mitigation grants totaling almost $30,000 have been mailed to Florida homeowners from five counties who hardened their homes against hurricanes through the My Safe Florida Home (MSFH) program. The homeowners, who received free wind inspections during the pilot phase of the program, are being reimbursed for half the cost of a variety of home improvements, including hurricane shutters, reinforced garage doors and roof enhancements.

“I am excited that Floridians are hardening their homes before the next hurricane season starts with the help of the My Safe Florida Home program,” said CFO Sink, who oversees the Department of Financial Services. “It is my goal to increase awareness about the financial and safety incentives available to homeowners that choose to mitigate their homes and better protect their families.” CONTINUED


CONVERSATIONS ON CLIMATE CHANGE

Tuesday, April 3, 2007, at 11:00 a.m. after the Florida Cabinet Meeting, Commissioner of Agriculture Charles Bronson and Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink will host a workshop titled “Conversations on Climate Change.”  The workshop will be the first in a series of discussion on the impact of climate change on our state.

Tuesday’s workshop will feature national experts in areas such as the science of rising sea levels, renewable energy sources, the impact of climate change on the insurance and financial industries, and more.  The sessions will also give elected officials, business leaders and Floridians the opportunity to understand how these challenges and potential solutions present opportunities for the growth of new industries in our state.

Floridians can also find out more about climate change by visiting CFO Sink and Commissioner Bronson’s website at http://www.floridaclimatechange.com.  The website will be available on Monday in conjunction with the first workshop.

The agenda for the April 3, 2007, "Climate Change - An Overview" will be as follows:

11:00-11:03 AM     Charlie Crist – Welcome back after break
11:03 -11:09 AM    Alex Sink - Opening Remarks
11:09 -11:15 AM    Charles Bronson – Opening Remarks
11:15 -11:35 AM    Dr. Meg Lowman - From the Tree Tops of India
11:35 -11:55 AM    Dr. Stephen Mulkey - Climate Change  
11:55 -12:15 PM    Dr. Stephen Leatherman - Sea Level Rise
12:45 -1:05 PM      Tim Wagner - Insurance 
1:05 - 1:25 PM       Ken Locklin - Investments  
1:25 - 1:45 PM       Keith Allan - International Impacts 
1:45 - 2:05 PM       Mike Bowman - Farm to Fuel
2:05 - 2:25 PM       Question and Answer Session  
2:25 - 2:30 PM       Alex Sink & Charles Bronson - Closing Remarks 

We hope you can join us, as we begin this important dialogue to make more informed decisions about Florida’s future. 



 

CFO SINK NAMES JACKSONVILLE CLAIMS EXPERT TO CITIZENS CLAIMS HANDLING TASK FORCE

Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink announced the appointment of Mike Lancashire to the Task Force on Citizens Property Insurance Claims Handling and Resolution. Lancashire is the Vice President of Claims for The Main Street America Group, a Jacksonville-based super regional property-casualty carrier, and has more than 20 years of experience with both the commercial and residential property insurance markets.

“I am pleased to appoint an expert such as Mike to serve as a member of the task force reviewing Citizens’ claims handling procedures,” said CFO Sink. “He will bring extensive insurance claims and management experience to the task force, and I know he will serve with the best interests of Floridians in mind.” CONTINUED
 

 


 

JUDGE APPROVES NEW POLICY OPTIONS FOR VANGUARD POLICYHOLDERS 

Leon County Circuit Court Judge Terry P. Lewis approved an order  allowing Royal Palm Insurance Company (Royal Palm) and Security First Insurance Company (Security First) to offer new coverage to the 57,000 homeowner policyholders currently with Maitland-based Vanguard Fire & Casualty Company.   Today’s order follows one Judge Lewis signed last week naming the Department of Financial Services the receiver for Vanguard for purposes of liquidation, effective yesterday, and ordering current policies cancelled at 12:01 a.m. on April 25, 2007.   

Each policyholder will receive an offer of new coverage from either Royal Palm or Security First, effective April 25, 2007, or upon expiration of the policyholder’s Vanguard coverage, whichever occurs first.  Policyholders also will be free to choose other companies for coverage.  

“We want to ensure these Floridians have an offer in hand as they begin to shop for new coverage,” said Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, who as CFO oversees the department.  “Our top priority is to take care of policyholders and ensure their claims are paid.” CONTINUED


CFO Sink REVOKES Orlando Agent’s license for pocketing Customer payments 

Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink has revoked the license of an insurance agent who, from 2004 to 2006, diverted premium payments from his clients into a personal account and never forwarded the payments to the insurance carriers. 

Christopher Millsaps, 45, of Orlando, targeted several of his larger commercial business clients in Orange and Seminole counties, telling them they had additional insurance premiums due and instructing them to remit their payments directly to him.  

“Consumers trust insurance agents to ensure they receive adequate coverage and the services they pay for,” said CFO Sink.  “We will aggressively pursue any agent who takes advantage of a customer, especially as so many Floridians are struggling to keep up with rising premiums.” CONTINUED


 

 

 

englewood businessman charged with workers’ comp fraud

Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink announced that the owner of Don Estlund’s Tree Service is facing a charge of operating without workers’ compensation insurance.  Donald Robert Estlund allegedly admitted to operating for eight years without the state-mandated coverage, after an employee incurred a staggering medical debt due to an injury he received on the job. 

“Workers’ compensation insurance is required by state law to protect workers, and is especially crucial to those serving in high-risk jobs,” said CFO Sink, who oversees the DFS.  “This individual knowingly put his employees at risk, and we believe he deserves the maximum penalty under the law.”
CONTINUED


CFO SINK ANNOUNCES ARREST OF PANAMA CITY MAN SUSPECTED OF BEING SERIAL ARSONIST

Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, who also serves as the State Fire Marshal, announced the arrest of a Panama City man who allegedly admitted to setting more than 20 fires in and around the Panama City area in less than two years.   

Jeffrey Brightbill, 40, was arrested today on a charge of first-degree arson.  Arson detectives said Brightbill admitted setting fires in the Panama City area, as well as fires in Fort Walton Beach and Destin areas and in other states. If convicted on the arson charge, he faces up to 30 years in prison, in addition to fines and possible restitution.  Other arson charges are pending.
   
“I’m so thankful to the local Panama City investigators for getting this man off the streets before he hurt someone,” said CFO Sink.  “His actions put the lives of the people in the Panama City area at risk and our office will see to it he is held accountable.” 
CONTINUED


CFO SINK ANNOUNCES FIRE PREVENTION TASK FORCE 

Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, who also serves as State Fire Marshal, announced  that the Division of State Fire Marshal and several South Florida fire and law enforcement agencies have created a task force to promote fire safety after a fire at a mobile home park earlier this month resulted in five deaths and the hospitalization of five others. 

“We want to do everything we can to prevent such a tragedy from ever happening again,” said CFO Sink.  “I appreciate the efforts of everyone who has worked to put this task force together as well as those who will serve on the task force in an effort to make sure these residents have critical information to protect their families and homes.” 

The task force will begin Sunday by talking to parishioners at the 10 a.m. mass at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church, and then in the afternoon will be distributing fliers in the Migrant Farmers Cooperative Union area. 

By raising awareness through public education, the task force hopes to establish ongoing relationships among residents and participating agencies, help identify fire safety concerns, and provide information on public and home fire safety, including the importance for families to have working smoke detectors and a fire escape plan. To ensure effective communications with Immokalee residents, the task force will include two members fluent in Spanish and two members fluent in Creole. 

The Immokalee fire occurred the morning of March 4 at a mobile home in Cleves Trailer Park, 713 2nd Ave, Lot #18.  The State Fire Marshal’s Office, Bureau of Fire and Arson Investigations (BFAI), is continuing to investigate that fire, and the Florida Advisory Committee on Arson Prevention is offering a reward of up to $2,500 for information on the fire. 

The Bureau of Fire and Arson Investigations is a law enforcement branch of the Division of State Fire Marshal that assists other state and local fire and law enforcement agencies in the investigation of fires of suspicious origin.  Anyone with information about this case or any incident of fire is asked to call 1-877-662-7766 (1-877-NOARSON).