Volume 1 Number 47
November 22, 2004










TEXT VERSION


In a few days Floridians will gather with family and friends to celebrate Thanksgiving. This day of tradition in America gives us an opportunity to give thanks for all the benefits of this land of plenty, and of course, for our freedom.

But even with all the gifts and blessings of this year, for many Floridians this year was full of tragedy. Sadly, many Floridians will not celebrate Thanksgiving in their traditional way - in their own homes. That’s because thousands of homes remain in disrepair following the onslaught of four hurricanes.

Even so, we are still fortunate. Remember that if you will sit at a dinner table on Thursday with a friend or someone you love, you are blessed.

Remember also that the dedicated employees of the Department of Financial Services throughout the state continue working hard to help all Floridians get their lives back to normal. Patience, understanding and the support of family and friends will see us through these difficult times.

Here’s wishing you and yours a safe, happy and blessed Thanksgiving.
 

The skyline for November is beautiful downtown Lakeland in Polk County.
 


 

DFS HURRICANE STATUS REPORT
 
HURRICANE MEDIATIONS
Mediation meetings began today in Punta Gorda, Orlando, Jupiter and Pensacola to provide Floridians with a process to quickly and fairly settle disputes with insurance companies, at no cost to them.  To date, more than 1,000 homeowners have requested mediation.  Several dozen participated in mediation today. 

Mediation was instituted following Hurricane Andrew with a nearly 90 percent success rate. 

Storm victims can learn more about mediation services by logging on to the department’s website at www.MyFloridaCFO.com and downloading the “Mediation Program” brochure.  Consumers can sign up for mediation by calling the state’s hurricane hotline at 1-800-22-STORM.   CONTINUED


 

 

ELEVEN INSURANCE COMPANIES SUBPOENAED

Investigative subpoenas were issued to eleven insurance companies in Florida by state regulators and investigators. The subpoenas require insurance companies to submit records and documents related to their contractual relationships and commission arrangements.

“We need to determine if insurance companies and brokers are manipulating the law for financial gain rather than what is in the best interest of the insurance-buying public,” said Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher, who oversees the Department of Financial Services. “We will certainly take immediate action if we uncover any evidence of bid-rigging, kickbacks or improper fees.”
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GALLAGHER WARNS ADJUSTERS AGAINST DISCOURAGING CONSUMERS FROM FILING A COMPLAINT WITH DFS

Responding to a few complaints that some insurance company adjusters may be discouraging consumers from contacting the Department of Financial Services for help with a complaint or with filing a hurricane claim, Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher today issued an industry warning that such actions could result in license suspension or revocation. 

"Although we have received a limited number of complaints, the nature of the allegations are so serious I believe it warrants a public warning,” Gallagher said.  “I will not tolerate the rights of Florida’s citizens being impeded in any way.  Filing a complaint or request for the department’s help in no way inhibits the ability of claims adjusters to settle claims with an insured, nor does it delay or prolong the process unless someone is acting in bad faith.”
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PASCO COUNTY MAN ACCUSED OF FILING FALSE INSURANCE CLAIMS

 A Pasco County man is charged with insurance fraud, grand theft and filing a false police report after he told investigators that he was mistaken when he reported a car and household belongings stolen when they had been shipped to Hawaii, and that another car had not been stolen but repossessed.

Arthur Koenig, of 7221 Auburn Lane, was arrested Monday by investigators with the Department of Financial Services, Division of Insurance Fraud, and booked into the Land o’ Lakes County Jail on a bond of $70,500.  

“Insurance fraud drives up the cost of insurance and makes it harder for honest people to get the coverage they need for their families, their homes and their businesses,” said Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher, who oversees the Department of Financial Services.  “Insurance fraud is a serious crime, and the department treats it as such.”  CONTINUED