Dear Fellow Floridians:
Today, I was very proud to announce that the Florida Department of Financial Services helped recover more than $253 million for Floridians during 2013. The recoveries were made possible by investigative and consumer-driven efforts led by our divisions of Agent & Agency Services and Consumer Services, along with the Bureau of Unclaimed Property.
The Department of Financial Services’ Bureau of Investigation, which is
housed within our department’s Division of Agent & Agency Services, set a new recovery record of $5,789,589 in 2013. Nearly $2 million of the amount recovered by the bureau went to senior citizens. The 2013 total surpasses the previous record set in 2010 by nearly $300,000.
One of the most financially significant cases investigated by our Bureau of Investigation in 2013 resulted in a payment of $700,000 in restitution to 123 individuals and small businesses. This recovery was made possible after investigators discovered a scheme in which insurance agents specializing in surplus lines risks were found to be over-charging their clients far above the standard commission they earned on commercial surplus lines accounts.
Our department’s Bureau of Unclaimed Property also helped return millions of dollars to Floridians. In 2013, the bureau repaid approximately $221 million in unclaimed property claims payments. These recoveries ranged from money and securities to tangible items such as watches, jewels, historical items and other miscellaneous articles. While the unclaimed money and goods work to supplement the state’s education fund, all unclaimed property is available for return to the appropriate consumer at anytime and without charge.
Lastly, our department’s Division of Consumer Services’ HelpLine helped return more than $26 million to nearly 6,000 consumers during 2013. The division handled nearly 344,000 calls throughout the year in their efforts to assist Floridians with insurance-related questions, complaints or concerns.
I am very proud of all of our department’s divisions and their vigilant efforts to find and return money that rightfully belongs in the wallets of hard-working Floridians. I hope our success will discourage fraudsters and encourage more Floridians to contact us with their questions or tips about missing money or fraudulent scams.
For more information on these programs and how the Florida Department of Financial Services can help you claim what is rightfully yours, please visit
Chief Financial Officer
State of Florida
Law Enforcement Officer/Investigator of the Year Honorees Lauded
Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater recently applauded the three Florida State Fire Marshal officers and investigators who were recognized this week for their excellence and commitment to service at the State Law Enforcement Chiefs’ Association’s 2013 Officer/Investigator of the Year ceremony. Captain Janet Hartman was awarded the association’s leadership award and Lieutenant David O’Dell was named Investigator of the Year. Lieutenant Karl Morgan also received a nomination for the Outstanding Law Enforcement Trainer award.
"The level of talent and expertise within the Division of State Fire Marshal is extraordinary," said CFO Atwater, who also serves as Florida’s State Fire Marshal. "Congratulations to these honorees and all of our dedicated detectives who work tirelessly to protect Florida families from the harmful effects of fire and arson."
Law Enforcement Leadership Award
Captain Janet Hartman serves as the Bureau of Fire and Arson Investigations’ Special Operations Unit Commander while also representing state law enforcement on the Commission for Florida Law Enforcement Accreditation’s Standards Review and Interpretation Committee. A strong leader with a breadth of experience, she ensures the investigative mission of the agency is supported by a remarkable team. She is a decisive leader and dedicated mentor who always considers the impacts of her choices and encourages team members to think and act innovatively.
Investigator of the Year Award
This past year, Lieutenant David O’Dell worked a case that illustrates his level of expertise and dedication to fire investigation. By meticulously examining a scene marred by fire damage, he was able to find crucial evidence that led to the indictment of three individuals for first degree murder and arson.
He currently serves as the regional Computer Voice Stress Analyzer Operator, as well as a Field Training Officer. A dedicated and effective investigator, O’Dell has achieved an impressive arson clearance rate of 29 percent out of a total 53 cases in the past year, while also providing high quality training to several new detectives.
Law Enforcement Trainer Award Nominee
Lt. Karl Morgan is an outstanding instructor who strives to improve the personal and professional development of others. He devised an innovative statewide training program while also encouraging several field personnel to become instructors. His newly devised tactics cut costs significantly and received excellent feedback. In addition to his work with the Bureau, Lt. Morgan is currently pursuing his Masters in Criminal Justice from the University of Central Florida.
The Division of State Fire Marshal is dedicated to providing the highest quality services to all of its customers, from local fire departments requesting assistance with fire investigations to citizens looking to attend the finest fire training colleges in the state. The division’s headquarters are located in Tallahassee, Florida; however, there are numerous field offices located across the state to help serve customers better.
The State Law Enforcement Chiefs' Association, commonly known by its acronym, "SLECA", represents the interests of law enforcement managers and supervisors employed by the State of Florida.
Florida Economic Briefs
Florida consumer sentiment unchanged from previous month
Consumer confidence among Floridians held steady in February at 78. While the overall index did not change, perceptions of whether now is a good time to buy big-ticket items rose eight points to 94, the highest level in nearly 7 years.
Source: Bureau of Economic and Business Research
Volume of Florida home sales dips in January; median sale price still increases 12 percent over the year
The number of closed single family home sales fell 23 percent in January, lowering the median sale price six percent to $162,500. However, the median sale price increased 12 percent from the same time last year.
Source: Florida Realtors
Florida's Bottom Line
Explore the latest edition of
Florida’s Bottom Line. Inside, you’ll find expert insight on Florida’s economy, finances, workforce and housing market in the year ahead.