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         FLORIDA CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER ALEX SINK'S WEEKLY NEWSLETTER

         Volume 5, Number 11, March 14, 2008
 

This week, CFO Sink launched a statewide public awareness campaign highlighting www.MySafeFloridaHome.com—a Web site where Floridians can apply online for free wind inspections and learn how to strengthen their homes against hurricanes and windstorm damage.

Click here to watch the commercials

The My Safe Florida Home (MSFH) program has provided more than 172,000 free wind inspections to Floridians. Homeowners receive a wind inspection report, which suggests ways homeowners can harden their homes against storm damage and informs homeowners if they are currently eligible to save money on their wind insurance premiums.

Through the program, more than 70 percent of homeowners receiving free wind inspections have learned they are already eligible for an average savings of $224—without making a single improvement. Some Floridians may also be eligible to apply for matching tax-free grants of up to $5,000 to make improvements to their homes. To date, the MSFH program has given 4,402 homeowners grants totaling more than $14.3 million, with an additional 15,000 homeowners currently working with the program to make improvements on their homes.

Visit www.MySafeFloridaHome.com today and sign up for your free wind inspection - it is worth the four minutes it takes to apply!


CFO SINK ADDRESSES FLORIDA BANKERS ASSOCIATION IN TALLAHASSEE

CFO Alex Sink addressed the Florida Bankers Association this week during their Capitol Days about reducing the risk of insurance assessments, the rising impact of mortgage foreclosures and the My Safe Florida Home Program.

Addressing the group, Sink commented on the increased rates of mortgage fraud and mortgage foreclosure in Florida.  She encouraged Florida's bankers to work with Floridians facing foreclosure to prevent them from losing their homes.  She also encouraged the group to work with Florida's lawmakers and the governor's mortgage foreclosure task force to develop solutions to help homeowners.”

Finally, Sink encouraged the group to apply for a free wind mitigation inspection from the My Safe Florida Home Program, which is helping Floridians qualify for an average savings of $225 per year on homeowners insurance.  She asked the companies to tell their employees about the program and its efforts to help harden Florida homes against hurricanes.


THREE WOMEN LEADERS INDUCTED INTO FLORIDA WOMEN’S HALL OF FAME

CFO Sink participated in the induction of three outstanding public servants into the Florida Women’s Hall of Fame Tuesday. Justice Barbara Pariente, Dr. Pallavi Patel, and Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen were recognized for breaking down barriers and blazing new paths to better the people of our state through their work in the legal, political and medical communities.  As a woman, mother, and public servant, CFO Sink thanked the women for being a progressive force for change in our state, and for opening the doors to future generations of young woman who seek to follow in their footsteps.


CFO SINK OBSERVES IMPACT OF CATEGORY THREE HURRICANES AT FIU'S WALL OF WIND

CFO Alex Sink toured Florida International University’s Wall of Wind (FIU) at the International Hurricane Research Center in Miami on March 7, 2008.  FIU’s Wall of Wind and International Hurricane Research Center conducts ground breaking research in the areas of hurricane mitigation and recovery.  At the Wall of Wind, CFO Sink observed the impact of Category Three hurricane winds on a structure built to meet the current hurricane code.

Joined by Dr. Stephen Letterman, director of the International Hurricane Research Center, CFO Sink also learned about new products available to help Florida’s homeowners’ harden their homes to better survive damage.


CFO SINK ADDRESSES WOMEN BUSINESS LEADERS IN  LAKELAND

This week, the National Association of Women Business Owners, Lakeland Chapter, honored the nominees for their Women of Distinction awards, with CFO Sink the keynote speaker.

Emphasizing the multi-tasking skills that women have in the management of their businesses, CFO Sink noted that women are more likely to emphasize relationship building as well as fact gathering and will consult with experts, employees and fellow business owners when an issue needs a solution. Her point was made that women put their problem solving skills to work to allow success at work, at home and in the community.


CFO SINK DISCUSSES FIRST YEAR IN OFFICE WITH REGIONAL CHAMBER MEMBERS

This week CFO Sink spoke with members of the Central Florida, Southwest Florida, and Winter Haven Chamber of Commerce about legislative issues and her first year in office.

Highlighting her role as a fiscal watchdog, she addressed her proposal to reduce the risk of insurance assessments, efforts to improve the My Safe Florida Home program, and her role on the governor's Mortgage Foreclosure Task Force.


MY SAFE FLORIDA HOME INSPECTION PROGRAM USES HUMOR TO SPOTLIGHT MONEY-SAVING BENEFITS

The Florida Department of Financial Services (DFS)  launched a statewide public awareness campaign highlighting www.MySafeFloridaHome.com—a Web site where Floridians can apply online for free wind inspections and learn how to strengthen their homes against hurricanes and windstorm damage.

The commercials asking, “How fast can you save money?” compare the ease of applying for a free wind inspection, which can lead to discounts on homeowners wind insurance, to other satirical things people might do to save money. Floridians in every part of the state will be exposed to the humorous promotional campaign on either TV or radio through May, including commercials in Spanish and Haitian-Creole.

Click link to play via QuickTime. (Download free)

http://www.MySafeFloridaHome.com/videos/DFS34820_Two-ply 3.mov


http://www.MySafeFloridaHome.com/videos/DFS34810_Haircut 2.mov

The My Safe Florida Home (MSFH) program, re-launched by Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink in April 2007, has provided more than 172,000 free wind inspections to Floridians. Homeowners receive a wind inspection report, which suggests ways homeowners can harden their homes against storm damage and informs homeowners if they are currently eligible to save money on their wind insurance premiums.

More than 70% of homeowners receiving free wind inspections have learned they are already eligible for an average savings of $224—without making a single improvement. Floridians whose homes have received free wind inspections from the MSFH program may also be eligible to apply for matching tax-free grants of up to $5,000 to make improvements to their homes. To date, the MSFH program has given 4,402 homeowners grants totaling more than $14.3 million, with an additional 15,000 homeowners are currently working with the program to make improvements.

Floridians in single-family, site-built homes are eligible for a free wind inspection performed by a qualified hurricane mitigation inspector. Properties not eligible for free wind inspections include mobile and manufactured homes, apartments, condominiums, multi-family dwellings and businesses. The MSFH program has also partnered with local governments and the Volunteer Florida Foundation to offer low-income homeowners an opportunity to strengthen their homes against natural disasters.

The TV spots will begin airing today in the Tampa/St. Petersburg, Miami/Fort Lauderdale, West Palm/Ft. Pierce, and Tallahassee/Thomasville markets while radio spots air in Orlando/Daytona Beach/Melbourne, Jacksonville, Fort Myers/Naples, Pensacola/Ft. Walton, Gainesville/Ocala, and Panama City. Hispanic radio will air in Orlando, Tampa, and Miami. Creole radio will air in Miami/Fort Lauderdale.

For more information, please visit www.MySafeFloridaHome.com or contact the program toll-free at 1(866) 513-MSFH (6734).


Money-Smart Idea of the Week

Idea:
In honor of Woman’s History Month, CFO Sink is stressing the importance of financial planning and saving for women. Financial planning among women is essential for the following reasons: women typically make less than men, generally spend a shorter amount of time in the workplace causing them to be eligible for less financial benefits, and tend to live longer than men.

Each pay day; pay yourself first.
·Put a portion of your money into a Deferred Compensation Plan, 401K, establish an account with a Financial Planner or at the least put money into a personal savings account with your bank or credit union ($25 - $50.00).  Do it through direct deposit.  That way you don’t see the money and it does not have to pass through your hands.

Begin your investment or savings program early.
Begin saving money as soon as you start working.  You won’t believe how fast it can grow and you will have emergency funds when you need them.

Be in control of your life and your future.
Work to achieve financial independence.  Pass this goal along on to other female members of the family.

For more financial savings tips click here http://www.myfloridamoney.com/FLSaves.htm


CFO SINK ANNOUNCES PALM BEACH COUNTY
PIP FRAUD ARREST


LAKE WORTH —Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink today announced the arrest of a Palm Beach County man on Personal Injury Protection (PIP) fraud charges. This week’s arrest concludes the arrest of four South Florida residents on charges they perpetrated a PIP fraud scheme.

Werbs Prevot, 25, of Lake Worth, is accused of participating in a staged traffic accident and subsequently submitting bodily injury claims to Republic Western Insurance (REPWEST) Company. To date, REPWEST has paid $32,511.33 in expenses related to Prevot’s claim. Prevot, arrested Monday, is charged with one count of insurance fraud, a third degree felony and could face up to five years in prison if convicted.

“Personal Injury Protection is in place to help protect and safeguard Florida drivers, CFO Sink said. “My department’s fraud investigators are dedicated to finding and prosecuting people like Prevot who seek to abuse this system.”

The charges stem from investigations by the Department of Financial Services’ Division of Insurance Fraud (DIF), a sworn statewide law enforcement agency responsible for the investigation of insurance fraud. The DIF made more than 800 insurance fraud-related arrests in the last fiscal year.

Insurance fraud in Florida has been estimated to cost Floridians as much as $1,400 a year per family. The DIF investigates various forms of fraud in insurance, including health, life, auto, property and workers' compensation insurance. Depending on the estimated loss amount, the department will pay up to $25,000 for information directly leading to an arrest and conviction. Anyone with information about this or any other suspected insurance fraud is asked to call the department's Fraud Fighters Hotline at 1-800-378-0445 or log on to www.MyFloridaCFO.com/fraud. Complaints can be tracked online.


CFO SINK: BARTOW MAN ARRESTED FOR ARSON; FIRE DAMAGES TOTAL OVER $22-MILLION
Local Firefighters spent four days on site extinguishing flair-ups

Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink announced the arrest of a Polk County man on charges he set fire to a metal warehouse, causing over $22-million in damages and keeping 309 employees out of work for about 3 months.

Efrain “Frankie” Castro, 23, was arrested in Lakes Wales Thursday, on charges of first degree arson. The arrest follows a seven month investigation by The State Fire Marshal, Bureau of Fire and Arson, into allegations Castro set fire to Flanders Precision Aire Factory located at 1051 Palmetto Ave. The fire is believed to have originated by the ignition of stock boxes located on the side of the building. At the time of the fire, 153 employees were working.

“Arson is an extremely dangerous and costly event,” CFO Sink said. “We are lucky nobody was injured in this enormous fire and will see to it this individual is held accountable for his reckless actions.”

Though a dollar amount on damages from the fire is not final, it is estimated to have cause over $22-million in damages.

The Bureau of Fire and Arson Investigations is a law enforcement branch of the Division of State Fire Marshal that assists other state and local fire and law enforcement agencies in the investigation of fires of suspicious origin. Anyone with information about this case or any incident of fire is asked to call 1-877-662-7766 (1-877-NOARSON).


NATIONAL FLOOD SAFETY AWARENESS WEEK IS THE TIME TO REVIEW YOUR FLOOD INSURANCE POLICY

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) is pleased to support The National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration (NOAA)-sponsored 2008 National Flood Safety Awareness Week, March 17-21.

Floods threaten homes from coast to coast - and they can happen anytime, anywhere and without warning. The damage from a flood is not covered under a standard homeowners policy. Before snowmelt and spring rains bring the potential for flooding, the NAIC suggests all homeowners and renters review their flood insurance needs.

What is a flood?

A flood is an excess of water (or mud) on land that is normally dry. The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) defines flood to be a general and temporary condition of partial or complete inundation of two or more acres of normally dry land area, or of two or more properties (at least one of which is the policyholder’s property) from:

Overflow of inland or tidal waters; Unusual and rapid accumulation or runoff of surface waters from any source; Mudflow; or Collapse or subsidence of land along the shore of a lake or similar body of water as a result of erosion or undermining, caused by waves or currents of water exceeding anticipated cyclical levels.

What is Flood Insurance?

Flood insurance is a special policy that is federally backed by the NFIP and available for homeowners, renters and businesses.

The standard flood insurance policy pays for direct physical damage to your insured property up to the replacement cost or actual cash value (ACV) of actual damages or the policy limit of liability, whichever is less.

Homeowners: You may purchase flood insurance covering up to $250,000 of flood damage to your home. A standard flood policy will cover structural damage, including damage to the furnace, water heater, air conditioner, floor surfaces (carpeting and tile) and debris clean-up.

The contents of your home are not covered under a standard policy, but for an additional premium, you also may purchase flood coverage for up to $100,000 of damage to your personal property.

Coverage for basements, crawlspaces and ground-level enclosures on elevated homes is limited. If your home has these spaces, be sure to ask your insurance agent about any restrictions in your coverage.

Renters: Flood is not covered under your basic renters insurance policy. Talk with your insurance agent about your flooding risks to decide if you need flood coverage for your belongings.

Business owners: A flood insurance policy coverage will cover up to $500,000 on a non-residential building and its contents.

How Much Does Flood Insurance Cost?

According to Federal Emergancy Management Agency (FEMA), the average homeowners flood insurance premium is approximately $500 a year.

Premiums for flood insurance will vary depending on your risk level for a flood loss, the amount of coverage you choose, the type of coverage you need and your deductible.

You can normally choose different deductibles for building property and personal property coverage. The deductibles will apply separately to building property and personal property claims. Your mortgage company can require that your deductible is no more than a certain amount.

How Do I Buy Flood Insurance?

You can purchase flood insurance for your home or business regardless of whether the property is in a floodplain. Contact your insurance agent or company to find out if your community participates in the NFIP. You can also visit www.floodsmart.gov to get more information about your flood risk.

Plan Ahead: Flood Insurance has a Waiting Period

It is very important to plan ahead. A flood insurance policy normally will not go into effect until 30 days after you purchase the policy.

Additional Tips

Make a home inventory; i.e., a record of your personal property, such as clothes, jewelry, furniture, computers and audio/video equipment. Photos and video of your home, as well as sales receipts and the model and serial numbers of items, will make filing a claim simpler. In addition, add insurance information to your inventory information; i.e., the name of your insurance company and agent, policy numbers and contact information.

For personal safety, identify what storm shelter is available to you and prepare an evacuation plan.

Make sure you have bottled water, a first aid kit, flashlights, a battery–powered radio, non–perishable food items, blankets, clothing, prescription drugs, eyeglasses, personal hygiene supplies and a small amount of cash.

If you need to evacuate your home, turn off all utilities and disconnect appliances to reduce the chance of additional damage and electrical shock when utilities are restored.

Move all of your important documents to a safe location. Take them with you when you evacuate or store them in a safe deposit box outside the area.

Take proactive steps to protect your property from loss. Be sure there is no loose siding on your home and no damaged or diseased trees growing over your home.
More Information

For more information about flood insurance, visit the NFIP Web site at www.floodsmart.gov.

Get smart about insurance! For more information about auto, home and health insurance options, and tips for choosing the coverage that is right for you and your family, go to www.insureUonline.org.


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