My Florida C F O

Dear Fellow Floridians:

As Americans, we treasure this time of celebration with our family and friends. Though our celebrations may be varied, we can all share the spirit of faith and joy this season. As many of you will be celebrating your faith, I look forward to celebrating Christmas with my family, catching up with loved ones and expressing gratitude for the year’s blessings.
Christmas tree fire video
It’s just now starting to feel like the holidays here in Tallahassee, and just this week, "Fresh From Florida" Christmas trees were delivered to my office along with the offices of Governor Scott, Attorney General Bondi, and Commissioner Putnam that will help amp up the holiday spirit in the Capitol. The tradition, started by Commissioner Putnam, highlights a local Christmas tree farmer operating in Florida.

This year’s Carolina Sapphire trees were donated by Ergle Christmas Tree Farm in Dade City. Now that our trees are in place, it’s our responsibility to care for them and keep our office space safe.

Did you know that your live Christmas tree can be a fire hazard? It’s true! Christmas tree fires do not happen often, but they have the potential to be serious fires when they do.

More often than not, these fires occur because the tree has not been properly watered and has become dried out and repeatedly exposed to multiple heat sources. The mix of dry tree branches and hot holiday lights can quickly become a tragic combination.

You must make sure that you keep track and make sure that your tree stand is holding water and that it always has water in the reservoir. Don’t place it next to your fireplace, radiator, or any candles that you may be lighting. Also, make sure that you unplug your tree when you leave the house to prevent overheating.

These tips sound simple — and they are — but you must make sure to follow them. It’s frightening to see how quickly one spark can turn a whole room into a ball of flames. Just watch this video from the U.S. Department of Commerce.

In less than a minute, the entire room is covered in flames. That’s all the time you would have to get your family to safety.

Now, I don’t say these things to scare you, but I do say them so you’ll remember to pay close attention to potential risks in your own house. It’s my hope that your family will sail smoothly through the holiday season without ever having to deal with the devastating consequences of fire. I urge you to take these simple steps to help ensure your holiday season is a safe, healthy and happy one.

Sincerely,

Jeff
Jeff Atwater
Chief Financial Officer
State of Florida

CFO Jeff Atwater and Commissioner David Altmaier Host Insurance Roundtable Marking the End of Hurricane SeasonCFO Jeff Atwater and Commissioner David Altmaier Host Insurance Roundtable Marking the End of Hurricane Season

On Friday, December 2, Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater and Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier hosted an insurance roundtable discussion with representatives from more than 25 insurance companies operating in Florida. Hosted at the conclusion of the 2016 Atlantic Hurricane Season, CFO Atwater and Commissioner Altmaier invited the insurance industry as well as the Federal Emergency Management Agency to engage in a public conversation about the successes and challenges related to the first two storms Florida has faced — Hurricanes Hermine and Matthew — in more than ten years.

Recent data reports show more than 112,000 insurance claims totaling $729 million in losses as a result of Hurricane Matthew and 18,000 insurance claims totaling $95 million as a result of Hurricane Hermine. As these insurance claims are processed, paid and closed, CFO Atwater and Commissioner Altmaier have closely followed the insurance industry’s claims-paying practices to ensure that Floridians are treated fairly and their claims are handled appropriately.

"We will not accept anything less than the best and most efficient effort from every single insurance company operating in the state of Florida," said CFO Atwater. "Commissioner Altmaier and I are pleased with what we’ve seen thus far, but we will continue to meet with residents until Floridians’ concerns have been addressed."

"We had a great event and I am encouraged by the responsiveness of the insurance industry," said Commissioner Altmaier. "Our office stands ready to be a resource for consumers on claims related to Hurricanes Hermine and Matthew."

Consumers who have questions about their insurance coverage or claims are encouraged to call CFO Atwater’s Department of Financial Services, Division of Consumer Services’ Insurance Helpline. Helpline experts can be reached by calling 1-877-MY-FL-CFO (1-877-693-5236), or online at www.myfloridacfo.com/division/consumers/.

Florida's Bottom Line: Florida's Economy Since 2011

Learn about Florida's economy since 2011 in this infographic from the current edition of Florida's Bottom Line, CFO Atwater's award-winning quarterly economic magazine, focused on providing you with the latest news and insightful analysis on Florida's financial and economic health.


Operation S.A.F.E., Be Scam Smart Workshops

Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater invites you to participate in Operation S.A.F.E., Be Scam Smart, a free workshop for seniors, their families, and caregivers.

The Florida Department of Financial Services launched Operation S.A.F.E. (Stop Adult Financial Exploitation) as part of CFO Atwater’s On Guard for Seniors initiative. Be Scam Smart workshops help inform, empower, and protect Florida’s seniors from financial scams and fraud. If you want to make sure your savings are protected, register for this workshop and get a better understanding of how scam artists and scams work.

Operation S.A.F.E.Be Scam Smart by learning more about:

  • How to Spot Fraudulent Behavior
  • Common Scams that Target Seniors
  • How to Fight Identity Theft

Feedback from seniors who attended a Be Scam Smart workshop:

“Savored every moment of this workshop. The information was needed and vital for seniors’ and consumers’ financial survival.” - West Palm Beach

“Presentations were great & well timed. Excellent information we all need to know.” - Pensacola

“Every senior in the city and state should attend the Be Scam Smart Workshop.” - Jacksonville

“Thank you for alerting us to the scam we as seniors are exposed to.” - Brandon


Find out more about us in the About Us section or Register for an upcoming event, including the following workshop:

  • Wednesday, December 14th – Jacksonville
    12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m.
    Jewish Community Alliance
    8505 San Jose Boulevard, Jacksonville, FL 32217
    Register | Directions

This is the last workshop for 2016, but there will be many more in 2017. Please let us know if you would like to request a workshop in your area.

Florida Economic Briefs

National unemployment rate falls in November
In November, the unemployment rate fell to 4.6 percent, down 0.3 percentage points from the previous month, and down 0.4 percentage points from last year (5.0 percent). Florida’s unemployment rate for November will be released on December 16.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

U.S. real GDP increased 3.2 percent
U.S. real GDP increased 3.2 percent in the third quarter according to revised estimates released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. This is a 1.8 percentage point increase from the second quarter growth rate of 1.4 percent. Real gross domestic product is the value of goods and services produced by the nation’s economy.
Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis