FLORIDA CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER ALEX SINK'S WEEKLY NEWSLETTER
Volume 5, Number 11, March 14,
This week, CFO Sink launched a statewide public awareness campaign
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
Web site where Floridians can apply online for free wind inspections
and learn how to strengthen their homes against hurricanes and
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
Click link to play
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
or contact the program toll-free at 1(866) 513-MSFH (6734).
Idea of the Week
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
CFO SINK ANNOUNCES PALM
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
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
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)
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
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
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
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.
For more information about flood insurance, visit the NFIP Web site
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
Consumer Services Helpline