main menu bread crumb page title feature menus content footer
My Florida C F O
Weekly eNewsletter from Florida's Chief Financial Officer

Dear Fellow Floridian:

In the 21st century, innovation serves as a catalyst for a diverse, prosperous and sustainable economy. For many years, Florida has pursued strategies to foster an environment that encourages growth and investment, allowing businesses to expand and strengthen our economy. Thanks to these efforts, Florida is now recognized as a national leader in innovation, most recently being named the “Most Innovative State in the Nation” by Fast Company for our thriving network of entrepreneurs and startups. It is in this spirit that Florida’s Bottom Line continues its three-part series on Innovative Florida, with the second edition highlighting the state’s aerospace and aviation industry.

Aviation and aerospace touch our lives each day. The technological innovation spurred by the drive to create the world’s leading aerospace and aviation systems is responsible for developing tools and technologies that better connect us to information and the global economy, move us more quickly and safely, improve our quality of life and allow us to explore our galaxy and beyond.Florida's Bottom Line on Innovative Florida - Aerospace and Aviation

Inside this edition of Florida’s Bottom Line, you’ll find expert commentary on Florida’s efforts to create and lead the next generation of innovation in the aerospace and aviation industry. You will also discover valuable insight from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, which has led the nation in aerospace and aviation education for more than a decade.

With a long history of exploration and a strong presence of industry leaders, military bases, high-tech entrepreneurs and leading research institutes and universities, Florida is truly home to a wealth of world-class innovation. It is the collective ingenuity and perseverance of the people of Florida that created the foundation for our Innovative Florida, and it will be the continued commitment and creativity of Floridians who will make our state a global leader for innovation and economic prosperity in the 21st century. I hope this issue of Florida’s Bottom Line equips you with the resources to become a part of this mission.

Jeff Atwater
Jeff Atwater
Chief Financial Officer
State of Florida

News of Interest

Florida Current: CFO Atwater seeks property rate hike explanation as insurance costs rise

Orlando Sentinel: Florida welcomes proposed delay in flood insurance rate hike

Miami Today: Florida increasing focus on economic development

Jacksonville Daily Record: Cruise business key for JaxPort's future

Orlando Sentinel: Defense companies find business away from battlefield

Sun-Sentinel: Buyers paying above appraised value for their dream homes

Florida Trend: Not Made in China

CFO Atwater Asks for Analysis of Property Insurance Rates

This week, CFO Atwater sent the following letter to Florida Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty to express his concerns about the cost of property insurance in Florida and to ask, “Why have rates not come down?”

October 29, 2013

Dear Commissioner McCarty,

As I expressed in our recent meeting, I remain very concerned that property insurance companies are not passing along the reinsurance cost savings they are experiencing to Florida homeowners. Therefore, I request that you analyze Florida’s insurance companies to ensure they are treating Floridians fairly.

Year after year, insurance companies have been telling their customers and the Legislature that the “simple” explanation for the higher rates they are charging was due to reinsurance costs going up. Furthermore, they made representations that if reinsurance rates were to fall they would pass those savings along to their customers. But now that insurance companies are experiencing a significant decrease in the cost of their reinsurance, they are not lowering rates for consumers.

I am well aware of the need for insurers to carry adequate reinsurance and that the Florida Statutes allow insurers to purchase enough reinsurance to cover a 1 in 250 year storm. You have told me, however, that companies have rarely if ever purchased reinsurance to cover a 1 in 250 year storm.

If companies historically did not believe they needed more reinsurance and your office was not mandating that they acquire more reinsurance, then please tell me how they are now deploying the savings they are receiving from lower reinsurance costs. My question to you is simple: “Why have rates not come down?”

I am asking that you oversee an analysis that provides Floridians an accurate representation of how much insurers are saving, how they are utilizing these savings and how customers are benefiting. My request is not suggesting insurers should put themselves at any greater risk or not acquire the appropriate level of reinsurance. Our goal should be to ensure rates are fair and companies are sound.

Such an analysis will require a significant review of data but I believe that Floridians are due such an assessment. Please provide me your analysis by December 18. If you believe this timetable is not manageable let me know.

Sincerely,

Jeff Atwater
Chief Financial Officer
State of Florida

Five Arrests in Accident Clinic Sweep

Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater announced the arrests of five individuals involved in an accident clinic sweep in Fort Myers and Port Charlotte, Florida. The arrests included clinic owners, massage therapists and chiropractors charged with patient brokering and solicitation in support of a large scale personal injury protection (PIP) fraud ring.

“These arrests are another great win in the ongoing fight against PIP fraud in Florida,” said CFO Atwater. “I applaud the hard work of our investigators who are able to identify and shut down these destructive crime rings, which hurt Florida families by driving up insurance rates for everyone.”Division of Insurance Fraud Badge

A long-term investigation conducted by the Florida Department of Financial Services’ Division of Insurance Fraud in partnership with Nationwide Insurance Company discovered that employees at Evans Rehab Center, located at 3949 Evans Avenue in Fort Myers, and Charlotte Wellness and Rehab located at 4300 Kings Highway, Suite 205, in Port Charlotte, advised patients to sign documents for rehabilitation services for injuries that supposedly occurred during auto accidents. It is alleged that these clinics then billed insurance companies for fraudulent treatments that never occurred. The investigation also revealed that Charlotte Wellness was allegedly operating without the proper licensure requirements.

Taken into custody were Gloria Feliz, 31, receptionist; Andres Bravo, 52, massage therapist; Joe Gevans, 51, facilitator; Gerard Jean Stephen Valere, 51, clinic owner; and Ronald Woodley, 63, chiropractor.

The department’s investigation was assisted by the Lee and Charlotte County Sheriff’s offices. Woodley, Gavens and Valere were booked into the Charlotte County Jail, and both Feliz and Bravos were booked into the Lee County Jail. The subjects are awaiting bond, and if convicted, they each face up to five years in prison.

Anyone with information involving suspected insurance fraud is asked to call 1-800-378-0445. Citizens who provide tips can remain anonymous. The Department of Financial Services to date has awarded almost $342,000 to more than 50 citizens as part of its Anti-Fraud Reward Program. The program rewards individuals up to $25,000 for information that directly leads to an arrest and conviction in an insurance fraud scheme.