Dear Fellow Floridian:
This week marks the beginning of Black History Month, a time we have
set aside to celebrate African Americans in Florida and throughout our
country who have broken barriers, advocated equality and positively
influenced the course of history. Examples such as Floridians Mary
McLeod Bethune, whose vision and wisdom created what would become
Bethune-Cookman University; Ray Charles, one of our country’s most
famous musicians; and current Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll, our state’s
first-ever African American Lieutenant Governor, serve as shining
illustrations of those whose hard work and character have made the state
of Florida a better place to live.
By reflecting on the virtue and courage of such outstanding
Floridians, we are offered practical guidance on how to prosper and grow
as individuals, as Floridians and as Americans. Their hard work, courage
and determination are examples for all of us to admire and emulate. It
is important to appreciate the many contributions that African American
Floridians have made to our collective society, economy and culture, and
I encourage all Floridians to join me during Black History Month in
recognizing the significant accomplishments of these trailblazers by
participating in the many events scheduled throughout our state.
Chief Financial Officer
State of Florida
Meaningful PIP Fraud Reform Needed
This week, CFO Atwater appeared on "The Bottom Line," the Florida
Chamber's online newsletter with Executive Vice-President David Hart to
discuss the need for PIP reform this legislative session. Watch the
An Update from Florida's Bottom Line: Consumer Confidence Surges
Consumer confidence among Floridians surged in January, up seven
points to 77, according to a University of Florida survey. Four of the
five categories measured by the survey reveal increased optimism. To see
the most up-to-date information on Florida’s financial health read
Florida’s Bottom Line.
Arrest for Filing Fraudulent PIP Claims
Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater announced on Wednesday the arrest
of a Miami clinic owner for submitting fraudulent Personal Injury
Protection (PIP) claims from his unlicensed clinic.
Juan M. Dieguez, who also used the false identity Jorge R. Gonzalez, is
charged with operating a health care clinic without a license, grand theft and
insurance fraud following an investigation by the Department of Financial
Services’ Division of Insurance Fraud (DIF). Dieguez was booked into the
Miami Dade County Jail on Friday and is being held on $65,000 bond. If
convicted, he faces up to 15 years in prison.
“Insurance fraudsters have learned how to game Florida’s PIP system and every
honest Floridian with a car in the driveway ends up paying,” Atwater said. “We
must put policies in place to stop those who make a career out of stealing our
fellow Floridians’ hard-earned dollars.”
To demonstrate the increase of insurance fraud in Florida, consider the fact
that in 2008, a 40-year-old driver in Miami with an unblemished driving record
was paying $582 in PIP premium, and in 2010, this same driver paid nearly $1,050
for the same coverage. This is an 80 percent increase.
This case is part of a continuing crackdown by CFO Atwater’s Division of
Insurance Fraud and the National Insurance Crime Bureau in the fight against
auto insurance fraud in Florida. Farmers Insurance, Kingsway Amigo, State Farm
and United Auto provided assistance in this investigation.
Anyone with information regarding suspected insurance fraud is asked to call
1-800-378-0445. Individuals who provide tips can remain anonymous and are
eligible for a reward of up to $25,000 for information that directly leads to an
arrest and conviction in an insurance fraud scheme. The Department of Financial
Services to date has awarded almost $250,000 to approximately 40 citizens as
part of its Anti-Fraud Reward Program.