Volume 3 Number 39
September 25, 2006

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Pensacola is the site of the second in a series of free homeowner expos that bring together businesses and not-for-profit agencies to help Floridians learn ways to make their homes more hurricane-resistant.

“Fortify Florida: Pensacola Prepares!”  will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. this Saturday, Sept. 30, at the Pensacola Civic Center. More than 70 exhibitors will be on hand to provide information, services and products.

Fortify Florida: Pensacola Prepares! will also have insurance company representatives on hand to help homeowners understand which hurricane-resistance measures will protect their homes, and how they can apply for discounts on their insurance premiums. By law, insurance companies are required to offer policyholders discounts on the wind-coverage portion of their homeowner policy premiums for specific measures that reduce their homes’ exposure to windstorm damage.

Workshops will also be held throughout the day to highlight methods and products homeowners can use to make their homes safer. All exhibits and workshops are free.

Fortify Florida: Pensacola Prepares! is being held in conjunction with the My Safe Florida Home program, a program administered by the Florida Department of Financial Services (DFS) to protect Floridians and assist them in making their homes safer against hurricanes.

For more information on these events and to learn the steps you can take to make your home more hurricane-resistant, visit the My Safe Florida Home website at www.mysafefloridahome.com.



 

GALLAGHER ENFORCES TOUGHER FRAUD REPORTING BY FLORIDA’S INSURANCE COMPANIES

Tom Gallagher, Florida’s chief financial officer, announced that the department has ratcheted up its fight against insurance fraud by requiring insurance companies to better document their own in-house fraud fighting efforts.

Noting that the Department of Financial Services’ Division of Insurance Fraud (DIF) is consistently recognized as leading the nation in insurance fraud arrests and convictions, Gallagher said the next step was to ensure any information about suspected fraud is promptly reported.

“Floridians are facing an insurance crisis that is being driven by a number of factors,” Gallagher said. “We are determined to do all we can to keep costs down for Floridians and that is why we are requiring greater accountability from insurers and companies in reporting fraud.”

The department’s aggressive fight against workers’ compensation and auto insurance fraud has led to lower rates in recent years, including a more than 30-percent decrease in workers’ compensation rates in the last three years. A fourth consecutive rate drop is pending.
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DIVISION OF FUNERAL, CEMETERY AND CONSUMER SERVICES
 

 

FUNERAL DIRECTOR CHARGED WITH GRAND THEFT, SELLING INSURANCE WITHOUT A LICENSE

A funeral home director is facing felony charges that he sold a pre-need funeral services contract without a license to a woman he met at church and then pocketed the money.

Tebbie Singleton, owner of Singleton Funeral Home in Tampa, negotiated a contract for $3,855 for funeral goods and services and received a check for $3,155 with the remainder to be paid when the services were provided. An investigation by the Department of Financial Services, Division of Insurance Fraud (DIF), and the Division of Funeral, Cemetery and Consumer Services, determined Singleton never forwarded the money to complete the deal and was not authorized to enter such a contract.

“It is unconscionable that an individual would take advantage of someone trying to prepare for the end of life,” said Gallagher, who oversees the department. “If this individual is convicted, we will seek to ensure this victim and any others are repaid and that he no longer works in this industry.”
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FLORIDA HISPANIC HERITAGE MONTH

The fourth annual Florida Hispanic Heritage Month runs through October 15 to pay tribute to Florida's Hispanic culture. The theme for this year's celebration is "La Florida: Honoring Our State's Spanish and Latin American Influences."  Celebrate the achievements and contributions of our state's Spanish-speaking cultures and communities with Floridians across the state to honor and embrace our state's rich heritage. 

This month honors the independence days of seven Latin American countries -- Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico and Chile – and recognizes the discovery of America. The first event in Florida’s recorded history was the landing of Ponce De Leon in 1513. Since then, Spanish-speakers have converged in Florida, giving it one of the most unique and diverse Hispanic populations in the world. CONTINUED


LONG-TERM CARE INSURANCE PROTECTION

In June 2006 Governor Jeb Bush signed into law new protections for long-term care insurance policyholders. The measure prevents insurers from contesting policies years after selling them and also stops the practice that results in rapidly escalating premiums for aging policyholders.

The Florida Department of Financial Services Consumer Services Division receives hundreds of questions and complaints each year regarding long-term care (LTC) insurance. Consumers have lodged complaints regarding companies accepting premiums for years and then contesting the policies when claims were filed.
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LIFE INSURANCE AWARENESS MONTH

Nearly half of all U.S. households don't have life insurance or fear they need more, according to a study by LIMRA International Inc.

Life insurance is meant to replace income in case of death. Who is dependent on you financially? What major living expenses will your dependents need help with if you were to die?  Is your life insurance adequate and how much is enough to cover your family’s needs?

Visit “Your Money, Your Life,” a financial information Web site provided by the Department of Financial Services, and review your insurance needs at different stages of your life.  

September is Life Insurance Awareness Month, and all Floridians should give themselves and their families an insurance checkup. The key to financial security is knowledge, and assessing your life insurance needs is an important step in finding that security.