Consumer eViews
FLORIDA CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER ALEX SINK'S WEEKLY NEWSLETTER

Volume 4, Number 48, November 30, 2007

Fellow Floridian:

As some of you may know, I called for a special meeting of the State Board of Administration (SBA) on Thursday, November 29, 2007.  It was essential the Board of Directors of the SBA (Gov. Charlie Crist, Attorney General Bill McCollum and I) meet to discuss the SBA’s Local Government Investment Pool.  Local governments and school boards invest some of their funds in this pool, which was seeing an accelerated rate of withdrawals during the past two weeks.  If continued, these withdrawals could have left some unlucky investors shouldering the Pool’s riskiest investments, possibly at a significant loss.   

The Board discussed immediate actions that would maximize fairness to all current investors.  At the meeting, the Board enacted the following plan:

  • Temporarily suspend withdrawals from the Pool;
  • Hire an independent financial advisor to work over the weekend and recommend a course of action to the SBA on December 4, 2007; and 
  • Require the SBA to establish an “Investors Committee” among local government investors to develop a fair and orderly withdrawal plan.

Also, I share your concerns about shifting this unknown risk to our state’s pension fund.  As your Chief Financial Officer, I take my fiduciary duty to safeguard the pensions of our many retirees very seriously.

The Board expects to implement a withdrawal plan early next week and the SBA is working around the clock to develop recommendations for the next meeting.  I will provide another update on this issue next week.

Sincerely,  

Alex


UNCLAIMED PROPERTY PHONE BANK RETURNS OVER $127,000 TO TALLAHASSEE AREA

Wednesday evening, members of the department’s Bureau of Unclaimed Property hosted a phone bank at the WTXL studios in Tallahassee. During the phone bank, Bureau Chief Walter Graham was interviewed about how Floridians can contact the bureau to search for unclaimed property. The ABC 27 segment also featured two Floridians who discovered the state was holding their unclaimed funds at a previous phone bank the station conducted in earlier this month.

Unclaimed property can be claimed for free at any time by the rightful owners or heirs by logging on to www.fltreasurehunt.org or by calling the Bureau at 1-88-VALUABLE.  Until claimed, the unclaimed funds are transferred to the state’s School Trust Fund to benefit public schools.  Since the program’s inception in 1961, more than $1.5 billion has been transferred to the fund. 

During the two hours at WTXL, Bureau staff answered approximately 450 calls. As a result of the phone bank, since Wednesday evening, over $127,000 in unclaimed property has been claimed by citizens in the Tallahassee area


WIND INSPECTION BENEFITS CONTINUE EVEN THOUGH HURRICANE SEASON IS OVER

CFO Sink is pleased to announce that in the past four days, the My Safe Florida Home (MSFH) program has received nearly 5,000 applications for a free wind inspection. The program attributes the increase in applications to its efforts to raise awareness about the safety and financial benefits available to homeowners who receive a free wind inspection.

By obtaining a free wind inspection, homeowners can learn how safe their home is and ways they can harden their home to protect against storms. Furthermore, the program is finding that 76% of Floridians receiving a free wind inspection are eligible for discounts on their wind insurance premium – without making a single improvement!

To date, 92,755 homeowners are eligible to receive an average wind insurance premium discount or credit of $204.31, based on the current structure of the home during the free MSFH wind inspection.

Any Floridians that lives in a single family site-built home is eligible for a free wind inspection at www.MySafeFloridaHome.com or by calling our toll-free number at 1-866-513-MSFH (6734)

And it's easy to apply. Just fill out an online application - the process takes about two minutes - and then you will receive a call from a program specialist with in two weeks.


CFO SINK HIGHLIGHTS FLORIDA STATE EMPLOYEE CHARITABLE CAMPAIGN AT THE UNITED WAY OF THE BIG BEND 

Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, chair of the Florida State Employees’ Charitable Campaign (FSECC) of the Big Bend, spoke at the United Way of the Big Bend’s press conference and discussed the progress of fundraising efforts by state employees.

About $1.7 million was raised, so far, as a result of the Florida State Employee's Charitable Campaign.

"Our state employees are such a big part of the Big Bend Community and are so generous," she said. "Many of our state employees know how important it is to help because so many of them have received help from United Way agencies."

The FSECC is the only state-sanctioned charity drive among state employees in the workplace, formally authorized in 1993 by the Florida Legislature. Each year, state employees generously contribute more than $4 million to their favorite charities through the campaign.


FLORIDA  REALTORS ASSOCIATION

On Tuesday, CFO Sink spoke to about 50 members of the Florida Realtors Association at their 2008 Legislative Strategy Session dinner. At the meeting, the CFO spoke about the state Florida’s insurance market, property taxes and the My Safe Florida Home (MSFH) program. Dinner attendees gave personal accounts about their experience with the MSFH program and highlighted the insurance savings they received by obtaining a free wind inspection.


WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT INSURANCE BEFORE REACHING THE CAR RENTAL COUNTER

A large percentage of U.S. consumers are confused about whether to buy insurance when renting a car, according to new research by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), which Florida is a member of. In fact, many people purchase insurance at the rental counter without knowing whether their existing auto policies or credit card benefits already cover their needs. With the holiday season in full swing and many travelers on the road, CFO Sink is sharing the following tips to those planning to travel by rental car:

Car Rental Insurance Tips from the NAIC’s Insure U Web Site

  • Review your auto insurance policy or call your insurance agent before you reach the rental car counter.
  • If your current policy doesn’t offer coverage for a rental car, see if an insurance rider can be added for a small fee.
  • Many credit cards include some level of collision and theft protection. In most cases, these benefits are secondary to your personal auto insurance or the car rental company’s insurance, meaning the credit card company will only pay claims after other insurance coverage has been exhausted. The NAIC recommends you call your credit card company and ask about benefits.
  • If you lack personal auto insurance and your credit card does not provide benefits, it might be wise to purchase the liability insurance and collision damage waiver at the car rental counter.
  • Keep in mind that if it is a longer-term rental (e.g., a week, a month or more); there might be limitations on the coverage your existing auto insurance policy provides. Check with your insurance company or agent for details.
  • If you don’t own a car, you might want to consider purchasing a non-owner auto insurance policy, because it provides benefits in addition to coverage for a rental car.
  • When traveling on business, a personal auto policy will generally not apply, so check with your employer for guidance.
  • Get more information about the types of insurance products car rental companies tend to provide, as well as additional auto insurance information by visiting www.InsureUonline.org. You can also get extensive information, tips and considerations regarding life, health and home insurance by life stage. The entire site is available in Spanish at www.insureuonline.org/espanol.


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