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My Florida C F O
Weekly eNewsletter from Florida's Chief Financial Officer

Dear Fellow Floridians:

When I decided to run for CFO, I wrote down a pledge to my fellow Floridians that I would follow if they gave me the honor of serving them in this role. Now, more than eight months into the job, I often look back at this pledge to make sure I’m delivering on my promises.

One of those promises was to fight fraud, particularly insurance fraud that has become an epidemic in our state and is costing billions of dollars each year. At this week’s Cabinet meeting, I was grateful to have the opportunity to discuss one of the most pervasive and egregious forms of fraud impacting Floridians, Personal Injury Protection fraud.

Insurance fraudsters and criminal enterprises have learned how to game Florida’s PIP system and every honest Floridian with a car in the driveway ends up paying. For example, in 2008 a 40-year-old driver in Tampa with an unblemished driving record was paying $480 in PIP premium, and today this same driver is paying nearly $870 for the same coverage - that’s an 81 percent increase.

Now is the time to stop throwing consumers to the wolves and work together on meaningful PIP reforms that will give honest Floridians the rate relief they deserve.

Jeff Atwater
Jeff Atwater
Chief Financial Officer
State of Florida

Citizens Board Appointees Named

Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater on Tuesday announced the appointments of Nancy Baily and Rob Wallace to the Board of Governors for Citizens Property Insurance Corporation.

“With Nancy’s vast experience in the private insurance industry and Rob’s deep understanding of the financial impact of decisions made in Tallahassee, I am confident that they will be great assets to the board and Florida’s insurance consumers,” said CFO Atwater. “They will be diligent and insightful in the important work ahead.”

Nancy Baily is a former chair of the Florida Insurance Council with nearly 20 years of experience in the insurance industry. She most recently served as the President and CEO of Travelers of Florida, the second largest provider of property and casualty insurance in the United States. Baily is also formerly the executive director of the Florida Chapter of the ALS Association, a non-profit organization that helps patients and families struggling with Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Rob Wallace is a lifelong resident of Tampa, where he has been a civil and environmental engineer for more than 35 years. He helped found and serves as the president of Environmental Engineering Consultants, Inc., a firm that assists manufacturers and property owners with managing engineering and environmental risks. In 1994, Wallace was elected to the Florida House of Representatives serving Northwest Hillsborough and Northern Pinellas counties. In the House, he was known as an advocate for small businesses.

The governor, chief financial officer, president of the Senate and speaker of the House each appoint two members, one of which must have demonstrated expertise in insurance.

Week in Review

This week I had many opportunities to share my top initiatives and vision with Floridians across the state.State Fire College

It is my privilege to serve as the Florida State Fire Marshal. This week, I had the honor of visiting our State Fire College in Ocala. I met with our staff and brave firefighters furthering their education in order to better protect and serve their fellow Floridians. These brave men and women work everyday to protect each of us. Take a moment to thank firefighters in your community who selflessly put their lives on the line for all Floridians.

At the Associated Industries of Florida "Champion of Business" ceremony in Palm Beach, I shared with business leaders and legislators the Champion of Business award for CFO Atwaterimportant role that entrepreneurship has played in shaping my top priorities. Florida’s businesses and corporations are the backbone of our economy, and it is my goal to create conditions that allow businesses to prosper. I was moved when AIF presented me with one of their Champion of Business awards. Organizations such as AIF help foster economic development and business growth in our great state.

Another organization promoting economic freedom as well as limited government and individual responsibility is the James Madison Institute. JMI has a long history of educating Floridians on the importance of free-market ideas in public policy issues. I had the opportunity to address their group in Ft. Lauderdale this week. I discussed the recent downgrade of the United States’ credit rating by Standard & Poors and how Florida has been able to maintain our AAA bond rating and to move from a negative to a stable outlook. Florida’s improved outlook is a direct result of the fiscally prudent manner by which we have governed in Tallahassee over the last several years.

Even during tough economic times, when we have to make difficult budget decisions, we cannot forget Florida’s future generations. I spoke at the Voices of Hope Child Welfare Network "Celebrating our Community Heroes" breakfast, a valuable organization dedicated to promoting awareness of child abuse . As Florida’s CFO, I realize the great importance of having strong partnerships in the child welfare arena. These partnerships give us the ability to leverage information and resources to effectively meet the needs of the children and families in our communities who need our help the most. In order to create a better, stronger Florida, we must always keep our youngest Floridians in mind.

Protect Your Home Base

Protect Your Home BaseThis week was the start of peak of hurricane season. The nation’s top meteorologist has predicted an above-normal hurricane season this year, with 12 to 18 named storms and six to 10 hurricanes. To emphasize the importance of protecting your home base both structurally and financially against hurricane damage, we partnered with the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH) to raise awareness regarding hurricane preparedness. In an effort to educate Floridians on hurricane preparedness and safety, we ran a social media awareness campaign that included hurricane tips, statistics and trivia questions. We even gave away hurricane preparedness kits to the trivia winners.

It is critical that Floridians not wait until the last minute to protect their homes and businesses. The consequences could mean thousands of dollars in damage and financial loss. If you would like more information on how you can protect your home base this hurricane season please visit www.myfloridacfo.com/Consumers/Storm/ or www.flash.org.