Volume 3 Number 27
July 3, 2006

Department of Financial Services button
Consumer Services HelpLine Number 800-342-2762
e-mail CFO Tom Gallagher
Press Releases button
Previous Issues button
CFO location button
Subscribe to Eviews button
Unsubscribe to eViews button
Text Version buttonFlorida Department of Financial Services logo

The Fourth of July holiday is upon us, and many of us will gather with family and friends to celebrate.

I wish you all a wonderful holiday and urge you to celebrate safely.

Please remember that fireworks – anything that launches or explodes – are illegal.  Hundreds of Americans are injured every year by fireworks, and half or more of those injuries are to children.  Don’t let a disaster ruin your holiday.  Instead, join your neighbors at a professional fireworks display in your community, or enjoy any of the hundreds of sparklers that are legal to use in Florida.  A list of legal sparklers is available on our website at www.MyFloridaCFO.com/sfm.

Amidst the celebration, let us remember the reason for the holiday.  We are celebrating the birth of our independence and the great democracy we have created.

Let’s pray for our troops who are bravely fighting to maintain our independence and to provide the same opportunities to others around the world, and let us honor all of those who serve and have served to keep this country free, as well as the families and loved ones who support our troops. 

Sir Winston Churchill said, “All the great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word: freedom; justice; honor; duty; mercy; hope.”                        

These words express what makes our country free, but it is the people who live these words that make our country great.







 

HURRICANE CLAIMS MEDIATION PROGRAM UPDATE

More than 95 percent of the 2.7 million hurricane claims filed as a result of the last two years’ storms have been settled, according to Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher, in an update on the progress of the Department of Financial Services’ hurricane mediation program.

"Florida has come a long way in recovering from two unbelievable hurricane seasons,” said Gallagher, who oversees the department. 

Gallagher initiated the free mediation program following the 2004 storms to provide a dispute-resolution process for homeowners who need help resolving hurricane claims to avoid more costly options, such as going to court.  Court-certified mediators provided through the Collins Center for Public Policy are facilitating the hearings.

Over the last two years, more than 17,000 Floridians have requested a mediation hearing.  Of those, 15,154 cases have been closed, resulting in settlements, partial settlements and pre-settlements in a majority of the cases, with the settlement rate at 91 percent. Another 1,298 cases are scheduled for mediation, and 616 are in the process of being scheduled. 

Gallagher initiated a similar mediation program as insurance commissioner during the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew in 1992, and he said the current mediation program is working as he expected. 

For help with a hurricane claim or to request a mediation hearing, call 1-800-22-STORM.
 

Essay Contest button

2006 ESSAY CONTEST WINNERS

The following 15 students in five regions were the top picks in an essay contest aimed at encouraging financial education among middle and high school students.   

The contest, “Cash in on Your Money Smarts,” asked students, ages 14 to 18, to submit at least a 750-word essay answering the question: "If you had $100,000 to invest, what would you invest in and why?"

The contest offered students more than $7,500 in prizes statewide.  First, second and third place prizes have been awarded to teens in given geographic regions, for a total of 15 winners statewide.  Nearly 900 students participated this year. 

The essay contest was a great way to encourage Florida’s young people to show off their financial knowledge and writing skills, and reward them for it. Learning these valuable skills now will pave the way for a lifetime of financial success. CONTINUED


 

 

NAIC COMMENDS FLOOD INSURANCE REFORM
U.S. House of Representatives Passes Bill to Modernize
The National Flood Insurance Program


The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) commends the U.S. House of Representatives for passing H.R. 4973, the Flood Insurance Reform and Modernization Act of 2006. 


Likewise, Rep. Richard Baker (R-LA) and Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) are to be commended for their leadership in sponsoring the bill that reforms the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). The NFIP is an important component of the government’s response to natural catastrophes, and the NAIC appreciates the leadership of Rep. Baker guiding this legislation that will help provide funding to pay outstanding claims stemming from the 2005 hurricane season, as well as modernize the program to address problems with how it is structured. CONTINUED


 

Upcoming Auctions

 

 

UNCLAIMED PROPERTY AUCTIONS THIS SUMMER

The Department of Financial Services Bureau of Unclaimed Property will be conducting two public auctions during the summer of 2006.  An auction on July 15 will be held in Jacksonville, and another one on August 26 will be held in Tampa.

For specific details of each auction, click on the link to the left.

Currently, the Chief Financial Officer holds unclaimed property accounts valued at more than $1 billion, mostly from dormant accounts in financial institutions, insurance and utility companies, securities and trust holdings.

In addition to money and securities, unclaimed property includes tangible property such as watches, jewelry, coins, currency, stamps, historical items and other miscellaneous articles from abandoned safe deposit boxes. When the tangible property fills up the vault, an auction is held to convert the property to cash.

Unclaimed money is deposited into the state school fund, where it is used for public education. There is, however, no statute of limitations, and citizens have the right to claim their property any time at no cost.

To find out if the Bureau is holding unclaimed property that belongs to you, click the “Search for Unclaimed Property” to the left or call 1-88-VALUABLE.


GOVERNOR BUSH SIGNS SERIES OF BILLS TO BENEFIT FLORIDA VETERANS AND ACTIVE DUTY MILITARY TROOPS

Governor Jeb Bush recently signed into law a series of bills that will provide additional benefits to Florida’s veterans and active duty military troops. Since 1999, Governor Bush and the Florida Legislature have worked diligently to establish Florida as a military and veteran-friendly state.  In 2005, an interim study conducted by the U.S. House Military and Veterans’ Affairs Committee ranked Florida highest overall in providing benefits to veterans. 

“On behalf of all Floridians, I thank our soldiers and veterans for their extraordinary dedication and service to our country,” said Governor Bush. “Their selfless dedication to our country commands not only our respect and admiration, but also our willingness to provide them and their families with assistance to improve their quality of life.” CONTINUED