Volume 6, No. 7 - July 2017

News You Can Use

- Updating you on what's going on

CFO Patronis Launches Firefighter Grant Program with Check Delivery to Monticello Volunteer Fire Department

Patronis - MVFP

On July 11, Chief Financial Officer and State Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis launched Florida’s Firefighter Grant Assistance Program with a check delivered to the Monticello Volunteer Fire Department. The first of its kind, the grant program will benefit volunteer fire departments across Florida by making funding available to purchase costly fire safety equipment. During its initial year, nine fire departments will receive a total of $150,000. Recognizing its life-saving importance, the Florida Legislature increased second-year funding to $1 million.

CFO Patronis said, “Florida’s firefighters lay their lives on the line every day to protect our friends and family, and I’m proud to lead a program that will help them purchase better protective gear. As this new program grows, we’ll keep working until every fire department across Florida has the resources they need to keep themselves and our citizens safe.”

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Florida’s Insurance Consumer Helpline Recovers $16.6M During First Half of 2017

Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis announced that assistance provided by insurance experts working Florida’s Insurance Consumer Helpline led to the recovery of more than $16.6 million during the first half of 2017. Helpline experts answered more than 141,000 calls from Floridians and aided in the recovery of funds that included insurance claim payments and premium refunds that consumers sought the Department of Financial Services’ help collecting.

The Insurance Consumer Helpline is a free service offered to all Floridians that assists callers with financial and insurance-related matters including disaster preparation and insurance fraud, as well as questions and complaints regarding auto, home, health, life, and small business insurance.

“The claims-filing process can be a stressful affair, especially during times of serious illness or after a disastrous event,” said CFO Jimmy Patronis. “I applaud the efforts of our experts who work tirelessly to provide Floridians with the tools and resources they need to easily navigate through their insurance-related issues.”

Recent examples of how consumers were helped by helpline experts include:

  • A Leon County consumer contacted the Helpline after insurance claims related to her son’s month-long stay in intensive care were denied. The company denied the claims on the basis of a pre-existing condition, yet the consumer felt the policy did cover her son’s pre-existing illness. Helpline experts contacted the company on her behalf and learned that the insurance agent who sold the policy may have misrepresented what the policy would cover. Helpline staff questioned the pre-existing condition determination, the claims were reprocessed, and a maximum benefit payout of $100,000 was made to the consumer.

  • After filing a homeowner’s claim and receiving payment following Hurricane Matthew, a Pinellas County consumer contacted the Helpline when her insurance company denied coverage for additional damage that had been discovered. Even after sending in additional documentation, she was unable to resolve the issue. Upon calling the company, Helpline experts were told that a simple processing error was to blame, not a denial. The company promptly processed the claim, paying out an additional $4,700 to the consumer.

  • A Brevard County consumer contacted the Helpline when medical claims payments related to treatment for her son never arrived. The company explained to Helpline experts that the payments had been processed but the company could not explain why they had not been received. A widespread system error was discovered and the company realized that payment checks for 53 consumers had never been mailed. In total, more than $24,000 in unmailed payments went out to the 53 consumers, including the original caller.

Floridians can contact the Insurance Consumer Helpline toll-free by calling 1-877-693-5236.

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Unclaimed Property Program Returns $313M in 12 Months

Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis announced that the Florida Division of Unclaimed Property returned an astonishing $313 million during the 2016-2017 fiscal year, the highest annual return figure in the program’s 56-year history. More than 513,000 individual claims were paid throughout the 2016-2017 fiscal year, a double-digit increase over the previous fiscal year. One in five Floridians has an unclaimed account in their name, and all are encouraged to regularly search for accounts on the Division’s website.

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CFO Jimmy Patronis Applauds Governor Scott’s Support for State Law Enforcement Officers

In response to Governor Rick Scott’s legislative budget proposal for an additional $30 million for state law enforcement pay raises, Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis issued the following statement:

“Today, Governor Rick Scott moved forward with a proposal that will ensure Florida remains one of the safest places to work, get an education and raise a family,” said CFO Patronis. “By increasing our state’s ability to recruit and retain top law enforcement talent, Florida can continue to raise the bar when identifying the trends and combatting the ever-evolving crimes that harm consumers.”

“This proposal sends a clear message to Florida's state law enforcement community, including our Department of Financial Services' 258 hard-working officers, that our leaders stand in full support of the sacrifices they have made to serve our great state.”

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OFR Recognizes Military Consumer Protection Month

The Florida Office of Financial Regulation has recognized July as Military Consumer Protection Month, designed to highlight consumer protection resources available to active duty and reserve servicemembers. Florida is home to more than 1.5 million veterans, and nearly 100,000 active duty and reserve members.

Commissioner Drew J. Breakspear said, “We are grateful for the sacrifices of our military servicemembers and their families. The Florida Office of Financial Regulation is a valuable resource for Florida’s military families, and we are committed to protecting Floridians from financial crime and providing resources to assist them in smart financial decision making.”

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Jacksonville Check Casher License Revoked

The Florida Office of Financial Regulation announced a final order against King Food Mart of Jax, Inc., operating as King Food Mart, for violations of Chapter 560, Florida Statutes. The order imposes a fine of more than $50,000, and King Food Mart’s check cashing license has been revoked.

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