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

         Volume 5, Number 22, May 30, 2008


The onset of hurricane season reminds us how important it is to be prepared. In addition to stocking up on essentials like flashlights, batteries, bottled water and non-perishable food; it is also important to do what we can to protect our homes from hurricane damage.

You can learn about the steps you can take to harden your home through the My Safe Florida Home (MSFH) program. From the Panhandle to the Florida Keys, this free state program is helping homeowners learn about the safety benefits of strengthening their homes. An added benefit, taking steps to mitigate your home may result in significant wind insurance discounts.

IApply for your free wind inspection today at www.MySafeFloridaHome.com. MSFH has performed more than 230,000 free wind inspections to date and is working with thousands of homeowners who wish to strengthen their homes. After receiving a free inspection, you will get a wind inspection report that gives you information about how to improve your home’s resistance to hurricane damage.

Your inspection report will also tell you if you are eligible for discounts on your wind insurance premiums. Nearly 60 percent of Floridians who have received a free wind inspection have learned they are eligible for wind insurance discounts averaging $226—all without making a single improvement.

This hurricane season, make sure you are prepared by signing up for your free wind inspection from www.MySafeFloridaHome.com.


MY SAFE FLORIDA HOME PARTNERS TO HOLD STORM EXPO IN MIAMI
Representatives from CFO Sink’s office to sign-up homeowners for free wind inspections

Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink announced that representatives from the Department of Financial Services’ (DFS) My Safe Florida Home program have partnered to host the Storm Prep Expo at the Miami Beach Convention Center, Hall C, on Saturday, May 31, 2008, from 10 a.m. – 7 p.m. and Sunday, June 1, from 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. Representatives from CFO Sink’s office will be on hand to sign up homeowners for free wind inspections, in addition to assisting attendees with insurance questions.

Floridians in single-family, site-built homes are eligible for free wind inspections performed by qualified hurricane mitigation inspectors. Properties not eligible for free wind inspections include mobile and manufactured homes, apartments, condominiums, multi-family dwellings and businesses.

The MSFH program has performed 20,061 free wind inspections in Miami-Dade County. Nearly 11,933 homeowners in Miami-Dade County have learned through wind inspections that they may already be eligible for discounts of about $430 on their wind insurance premiums, based on the existing structure of their homes.

In 2007, the Florida Legislature directed the MSFH program to provide inspections for at least 400,000 site-built, single-family, residential properties and provide grants to at least 35,000 applicants. The MSFH program has provided more than 247,442 free wind inspections to date. Participating 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. To date, 59 percent of homeowners who have received a free wind inspection are eligible for discounts on their wind insurance premiums averaging $217 statewide. For additional information, log on to www.MySafeFloridaHome.com.


LEON COUNTY'S LINCOLN HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS “ACT-OUT FOR HEALTH” TO WIN KIDCARE PSA CONTEST

Three Lincoln High School students enjoyed the spotlight today after winning the Florida KidCare “Act-Out for Health” video PSA contest. Kyle Johnson, Christle Moorer and Darsak Patel were honored by Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink and Healthy Kids Executive Director Rich Robleto today for writing and producing a :30 second public service announcement promoting the state-subsidized health insurance program for kids under the age of 19. Their video PSA showed what could happen if a student without health insurance got hurt and urged families with uninsured kids to apply for KidCare.

“We asked them to do two things, be creative and promote KidCare, and the judges were very impressed with the winning video that was submitted,” said CFO Sink, who chairs the Healthy Kids board.

The PSA contest was created as a pilot project in Leon County to engage middle and high school students and increase awareness of the KidCare program among 12-18 year olds after research showed a large number of kids in this age group lack health care benefits.

“We wanted to do some creative outreach after seeing the data from the recent study by the University of Florida Institute for Child Health Policy. More than 500,000 kids don’t have health insurance in Florida and the highest percentage of those kids are between the ages of 12 and 18,” said Robleto. “This contest allowed kids in this age-range, whether they have insurance or not, to share their perceptions and thoughts about getting good healthcare and why families should enroll in the KidCare program.”

The winning video PSA will be loaded on several social media web sites, including YouTube, MySpace and Facebook to get the word out about KidCare. KidCare staff is also working with the Department of Education to air the PSA in middle and high schools. Each of the Lincoln High school students were given a $500 gift card for Best Buy and their teacher, Reggie Grant, was given a $1,500 donation for the school.

Also attending the press event in Tallahassee today were the students who submitted the second and third place entries. Marquis Williams and Igor Anderson from Godby High school won second place and they each received a $350 gift card for Best Buy; teacher Charles Kilbourn accepted a $1,000 donation for the school. Nims Middle school student Janaa Davis’ video came in third place and she received a $200 gift card to Best Buy and her teacher Daniella Smith accepted an $800 donation for the school.

CFO Sink said the PSA contest may expand to other parts of the state later this year to allow more students to reach their uninsured peers with messages and images that demonstrate the importance of staying healthy, having access to doctors and applying for KidCare.

Florida KidCare accepts applications year-round and children enrolled in the program receive regular doctor’s visits, immunizations and routine vision and hearing screening. Most families pay a premium of $15 or $20 a month for KidCare coverage. Medicaid coverage provides eligible families with health care for no cost.

Nearly 1.4 million children are served by Florida KidCare, of which 1.1 million are Medicaid customers and more than 255,000 are enrolled in MediKids, Children’s Medical Services or Healthy Kids.

About Florida KidCare

Florida KidCare offers affordable, quality health insurance for children under the age of 19, whose parents can’t afford private health coverage but earn too much to qualify for Medicaid. Children enrolled in the program receive regular doctor’s visits, dental check-ups, and immunizations. For additional information please visit www.floridakidcare.com.


CFO SINK ANNOUNCES ARREST FOR FRAUDULENT USE OF TAX DOLLARS IN PENSACOLA

Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, Secretary of the Florida Department of Community Affairs Tom Pelham, and State Attorney for the 1st Judicial Circuit of Florida William Eddins today announced the arrest of an Escambia County woman charged with fraudulently obtaining nearly $150,000 in state funds from a local non-profit organization.

“It is upsetting to think someone would steal taxpayer dollars from distressed communities trying to become better places to work and raise a family,” said CFO Alex Sink. “I am grateful to our staff and cooperating investigators committed to ensuring every dollar is accounted for and those responsible for defrauding taxpayers are held accountable.”

Thelma Jean Manley, 49, former Community Liaison for the Governor’s Front Porch Revitalization Council of Pensacola, Inc., was charged Wednesday with aggravated white collar crime, which is a first degree felony. If convicted, Manley could be sentenced to up to 30 years in prison, in addition to restitution and fines. The arrest is the result of a year-long joint investigation by the Department of Financial Services’ Office of Fiscal Integrity, the Department of Community Affairs Office of Inspector General, and the 1st Judicial Circuit’s State Attorney’s Office.

The investigation indicated Manley allegedly converted state funds, as well as other funds received from other local non-profit organizations to her own use. The funds were earmarked for the Pensacola Front Porch Revitalization program to provide a multitude of services to people in need. The monies were funded with grants originating from the Department of Community Affairs, Department of Health, Department of Education, and Gulf Power Company donations.

The Office of Fiscal Integrity is responsible for statewide investigations of allegations of fraud, waste, or abuse involving State of Florida property and money. To report fraud, waste, or abuse of State of Florida resources, call 1-800-GET-LEAN (1-800-438-5326) or the Office of Fiscal Integrity directly at 850-413-5514.


CFO SINK SPONSORS RESOLUTION HONORING THE FLORIDA TRUST FOR HISTORIC PRESERVATION

The Florida Trust for Historic Preservation is celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2008. Floridians and visitors have gained an appreciation for the state's heritage through the dedication of the Trust, which serves as Florida's statewide not-for-profit organization dedicated to historic preservation. The Trust protects Florida’s unique historical, architectural, and archaeological resources through the use of advocacy, education and historic property stewardship.

Floridians joined together in the 1970s to save the Old Capitol in Tallahassee as a symbol of Florida's important role in the Nation's Bicentennial Anniversary.

With a resolution presented by CFO Sink this week, the Governor and Cabinet recognized the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation for 30 years of service and dedicated stewardship to the causes of historic and cultural affairs in Florida.


Money-Smart Idea of the Week

Idea: Time to check out your insurance coverage

With hurricane season upon us, it is recommended that people with homeowners or renters insurance policies do the following:

• Take periodic inventories of belongings. Supplement them with photos or videos.

• Keep sales receipts or cancelled checks for certain possessions to validate insurance claims.

• Store copies of insurance policies, key receipts and inventories away from home or in fireproof safes.

• Review policies annually. Keep phone numbers of your insurance agents handy.

• Consider buying extra protection, as floaters or riders, for jewelry, artwork, antiques or other high-priced items.

A recent NAIC survey found that 48 percent of homeowners didn't have any inventories of their possessions. Of those with a checklist, 58 percent lacked receipts and 32 percent didn't have any photos. A comprehensive list of your belongings and their value will help you file an insurance claim after a disaster

The NAIC survey also found that 43 percent of U.S. adults with homeowners or renter’s insurance owned policies that provided a replacement cost payout. Of the remaining consumers, 27 percent indicated their policies insured their homes for the actual cash value, while another 28 percent did not know which type of coverage they purchased.

Creating an inventory and storing it in a safe location away from home is one of the most basic — and most effective — disaster preparedness steps anyone can take to help protect themselves and their financial future.


Consumer Services Helpline 1-877-My-FL-CFO
Consumer eViews  MyFloridaCFO.com/PressOffice/Newsletter/