FLORIDA CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER ALEX SINK'S WEEKLY NEWSLETTER
Volume 4, Number 1, January 2, 2007
Happy New Year!
Earlier today, I took the Oath of Office and was officially sworn in as
Florida’s Chief Financial Officer, along with Governor Charlie Crist,
Attorney General Bill McCollum and Agriculture Commissioner Charles
Bronson. As the Chief Financial Officer, I am responsible for the
Department of Financial Services, a vast organization that monitors state
spending, investigates insurance fraud, licenses insurance agents and
agencies, returns unclaimed property to Floridians, champions hurricane
mitigation efforts and promotes fire prevention and investigates arson. The
CFO is the State Fire Marshal and State Treasurer.
are pleased to bring you this special inaugural edition of Consumer eViews.
Consumer eViews is a weekly e-newsletter that keeps you up-to-date on many
finance and insurance matters in Florida. In addition to recent news and
press releases, this week’s edition features pictures of today’s
Inauguration Ceremony and our Department of Financial Services Open House.
priorities over the next four years include serving as the state’s fiscal
watchdog, insurance consumer advocate and a member of the Florida Cabinet.
I will review state spending and privatized services to make certain that
you, Florida’s taxpayers, are getting your money’s worth. And I will
increase insurance fraud investigation and bolster the Department’s consumer
services outreach. My ultimate goal is to make state government work for
offer to you my best wishes in the New Year. I hope that you will contact
us at 1-800-342-2762 if you have any finance or insurance-related questions
or concerns. The Department of Financial Services is at your service and
ready to assist you.
CFO SINK OPENS OFFICE DOORS TO PUBLIC FOR
Alex Sink was sworn in today as
Florida’s second Chief Financial Officer, and afterward opened the doors
to several hundred visitors and well-wishers including U.S. Senator Bill
Nelson, former Governor Reubin Askew, former attorney General Bob
Butterworth, and State Senator Jeff Atwater. Sink was lavished with
accolades, but she also gave something back – more than $20,000 in
unclaimed cash that was being held by the Bureau of Unclaimed Property.
“That was a really nice way to start my new job by giving money back to
people,” Sink said. “It was a tremendous day, and I thank everyone who
Visitors had the opportunity to meet CFO Sink as well as representatives
from various divisions within the Department of Financial Services.
Representatives from the State Fire Marshal’s Office, Insurance Fraud,
Unclaimed Property, the Office of the Insurance Consumer Advocate, Agent
and Agency Investigations, Division of Consumer Services and the My Safe
Florida Home program were on hand to provide visitors information about
the activities and responsibilities of their offices and
responsibilities. The various divisions had video and visual displays
highlighting their duties and accomplishments for the department.
The Bureau of Unclaimed Property’s display was a particularly popular
spot as people stopped by to have their names checked against the
bureau’s database of more than $1 billion in unclaimed cash and
property. Several visitors were pleasantly surprised to find cash in
their names – more than $20,000 in all was found for visitors. The
biggest claim was for $11,900. Stuart Buchanan, a real estate
attorney from Winter Park, said the money is proceeds from a mutual fund
held by his grandfather, Howard Buchanan. He said the money will be
split with a cousin and an aunt.
“It made the visit even more special,” Buchanan said.
TORNADO VICTIMS: STATE’S STORM HOTLINE READY TO ASSIST
Florida’s chief financial officer
urged residents whose homes or businesses were damaged on Christmas
tornados that struck several Central Florida counties to call the
Department of Financial Services’ storm hotline at 1-800-22-STORM if
they need help filing an insurance claim or checking the licensure
of an adjuster.
storm spawned tornados that damaged numerous homes and businesses in
several counties including Columbia, Lake, Pasco and Volusia.
Consumer specialists are available to help answer questions about
insurance adjusters or what steps to take before an adjuster
arrives. The department especially urges residents to be
particularly wary if any adjuster or contractor who demands cash and
to read and understand contracts before signing.
It is recommended that property owners take the following actions if
they suffered damage:
- Make emergency
repairs to protect from further damage, document the damage and
repairs in writing, and with receipts and photos.
property damage to your insurance agent and company.
Gather copies of your
household inventory and other documentation, including photos.
This will assist the adjuster in assessing the value of the
If you must leave your
home because of the damage, let your agent or insurance company
know your temporary forwarding address and phone number.
Beware of fly-by-night repair
businesses. Hire licensed and reputable service people.
If considering the assistance of a
public insurance adjuster, verify that they are licensed by
calling the department’s storm hotline.
Be sure you understand how much a
public insurance adjuster is charging and what services are
included before signing any contract.
PUBLIC ADJUSTER FEES CAPPED TO
PROTECT TORNADO VICTIMS
Department of Financial Services is advising that due to Governor Bush’s
declaration of a state of emergency in Pasco, Volusia, Lake and Columbia
counties as a result of widespread damage from tornadoes that struck on
Monday the maximum fee that public adjusters can charge for tornado victims
in those counties is capped at 10 percent of the claim payment.
Furthermore, public adjusters are prohibited from demanding or accepting any
type of advance fees, retainers, or other compensation prior to any payment
being made on the claim.
A new rule, which went into
effect on September 3, 2006, triggers these consumer protections when the
governor declares a state of emergency. Under the new rule, the fee cap
will not expire for tornado victims regardless of when they may enter a
public adjuster contract for a claim related to damages sustained from the
Public adjusters are not affiliated with any insurance company and
are hired by the consumer for a fee which is usually stated as a percentage
of the claim payment that the public adjuster is responsible for recovering.
Independent and company adjusters work for insurance companies and do not
charge fees to consumers.
Consumers should make sure they are dealing with a licensed public
adjuster by calling the storm hotline or by logging on to
www.MyFloridaCFO.com to verify licensure of any adjuster, and should also read
and understand any contract before signing.
The department has activated its storm hotline, 1-800-22-STORM
(1-800-227-8676), to help storm victims with questions or complaints they
may have with filing an insurance claim.
Consumer Services HelpLine (800) 342-2762