FLORIDA CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER ALEX SINK'S WEEKLY NEWSLETTER
Volume 5, Number 26, June 27,
Our hearts go out to our neighbors in
America’s heartland as they begin to recover from the
flooding that has devastated so many Midwestern communities.
The American Red Cross reports that their domestic Disaster
Relief Fund has been wiped out by flood relief expenses that
already have topped $15 million. Projections for the
remaining clean up and recovery costs are estimated at
billions of dollars.
This terrible disaster, on the heels of
wildfires and other catastrophic events earlier this year,
is clear evidence that the argument against a national
catastrophe fund – because it would only benefit coastal,
hurricane-prone states – just doesn’t hold up anymore.
Here at home, we strongly encourage you
to sign up for a free wind inspection from the My Safe
Florida Home program before the remaining 20,000 available
inspections are gone. Homeowners receive a detailed
inspection report making recommendations to fortify their
homes against Florida’s seasonal storms and identifying
existing construction features in the home that may qualify
for homeowners insurance premium discounts. If you have a
single-family, site-built home, please visit the Web site
www.mysafefloridahome.com to schedule your free
CFO SINK INTRODUCES
NEWLY APPOINTED DEPUTY CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER
Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink would like to share
the good news - Tammy Teston, an accomplished former banker and
businesswoman, has joined the Department of Financial Services as Deputy
Chief Financial Officer. Ms. Teston joins the many talented individuals on
the DFS team who are committed to making the department even more dynamic in
its approach to good government.
An experienced financial professional, Tammy most recently served as the
Senior Vice President and Market Director for Bank of America Investment
Services in Sarasota. With more than twenty years in the banking industry,
Tammy has successfully revitalized underperforming banking centers and
markets. She has also helped lead integration efforts during banking mergers
and boosted employee morale while strengthening banking customer service
Tammy received a Master of Business Administration from Georgia State
University and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the
University of Florida.
With oversight of the Divisions of Consumer Services; Agent and Agencies;
Funeral, Cemetery and Consumer Services; Rehabilitation and Liquidation; and
the My Safe Florida Home program, Tammy will help lead many of the areas
responsible for educating and protecting Floridians.
OVER 365,000 FLORIDA HOMEOWNERS SERVED, MY SAFE FLORIDA HOME
PROGRAM APPROACHING GOALS
Only 35,000 Free Wind Inspections Remain, Program On Pace to
Halt Sign-ups By End of Summer
Financial Officer Alex Sink today announced that more than
365,000 Florida homeowners have signed up for free wind
inspections through the My Safe Florida Home (MSFH) program,
only 35,000 inspections shy of the Florida Legislature’s
goal of 400,000 free wind inspections by June 2009. The
popular first-come, first-serve program will continue
accepting applications online and over the phone until it
meets the 400,000 application goal.
Participating homeowners receive a free 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, 60 percent of homeowners who have
received a free wind inspection are eligible for discounts
on their wind insurance premiums averaging $220 statewide.
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 before June 30, 2009. Last month
CFO Sink announced that the program had exceeded its grant
goals and would transition to inspections only. To date, the
MSFH program, including local government and non-profits,
has approved approximately 38,889 homeowners for mitigation
grants and has paid 18,465 grants totaling more than $62.9
Floridian who lives in a single-family, site-built home is
eligible for a free wind inspection through the MSFH
program. Floridians can apply online at
www.MySafeFloridaHome.com or by calling the program
toll-free at 1-866-513-6734. Homeowners who receive free
wind inspections through the MSFH program will receive a
detailed inspection report, complete with additional
information on estimated insurance premium discounts, if the
homeowner is eligible.
BOYS STATE CFO VISITS CFO SINK'S OFFICE
The newly elected Chief Financial Officer of
this year's Boys State, Frederick Newbill of Davison City, toured CFO Alex
Sink's office on Friday to better understand the responsibilities of this
Boys State is a comprehensive one-week leadership course in state and
local government, developed to offer youth a better perspective of the
practical operation of government and to show that the individual is
responsible for the character and success of government. Delegates who are
selected to attend this program will "learn by doing" as they progress
through the various phases of government.
Florida American Legion Boys State is a "leadership action program" where
qualified male high school juniors take part in a practical government
course. It is designed to develop a working knowledge of the structure of
government and to impress upon each delegate that our government is what we
make it. They will have the opportunity to learn the political process. Each
level of government will be run by those delegates who are elected to serve.
Instruction will be presented on the law and court system, legislative
procedure, and Florida political history.
Idea of the Week
Tips to Help Close the Fiscal Year
As the fiscal year
draws to a close, many businesses are preparing for a rush
of year-end activities. Here are some helpful tips to ensure
that the end of your fiscal year goes as smoothly as
- Tip 1:
Continue to deliver what the customers need. Don’t get
caught up in the complexity of the closing season and
forget to respond to consumers needs.
- Tip 2: Get
government reports done on time!
• Find/read through closing documentation
• Schedule time to do year end closing
• Develop a work plan
• Back up all data before and after closing procedures
• Double check employee information
- Tip 3: Show
appreciation for your employees. This boosts morale and
gives motivation during hectic times
- Tip 4: Plan
the budget for next year. Set aside time during this
hectic season to plan a more accurate budget for the
next fiscal year
- Tip 5: If
you are planning on changing accounting systems, now
would be the best time. Implementing a new accounting
system at the end of the fiscal year will be easier and
less costly than a midyear switch
MY SAFE FLORIDA HOME ADVISORY COUNCIL MET
Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink convened the My Safe Florida Home (MSFH)
Advisory Council meeting on Wednesday, June 25, in Tallahassee.
The council authorized by Section 215.5586, Florida Statutes, was created to
provide advice and assistance to the Department of Financial Services (DFS)
regarding the administration of the MSFH program. CFO Sink will use the
council’s findings to further improve the services provided to Floridians
through the program.
The My Safe Florida Home program, re-launched by CFO Sink in April 2007, has
signed up more than 365,000 homeowners for free wind inspections. Participating
homeowners receive wind inspection reports, which suggest ways homeowners can
harden their homes against storm damage and inform homeowners if they are
currently eligible to save money on their wind insurance premiums.
For more information on the MSFH program or the council visit
www.MySafeFloridaHome.com or call
the program toll-free at 1-866-513-6734. On the Web site, Floridians can link to
information on the council, its agenda and upcoming meetings.
CFO SINK REMINDS FLORIDIANS MOST HOMEOWNERS POLICIES DO NOT COVER FLOOD
Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink urged Florida
homeowners to review their insurance policies, reminding homeowners that
standard homeowners insurance policies do not cover flood damages, even when
the flood is caused by a hurricane.
A national consumer public opinion survey of 1,004 individuals, conducted by
Opinion Research Corporation (ORC) during the period of May 15-18, 2008,
revealed a growing number of residents in Gulf Coast states are non-renewing
their flood coverage.
While residents in both the Northeastern and Western regions of the United
States are seeing a growth in flood insurance policies, slightly fewer
homeowners in the South now say they have flood insurance - 17 percent
compared with 20 percent a year ago - according to the ORC poll. These
findings are consistent with National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) data
that shows an increase in the number of people non-renewing flood policies
in Gulf Coast states.
The decrease in Gulf Coast flood policyholders comes three years after
Hurricane Katrina inflicted massive damage - mostly from flooding - upon New
Orleans and Mississippi, and just as floods are devastating homes and
property in Iowa. Oftentimes, victims without flood insurance lose
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 the insured property up
to the replacement cost or actual cash value of actual damages or the policy
limit of liability, whichever is less.
Homeowners may purchase flood insurance covering up to $250,000 of flood
damage to a 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 a home
are not covered under a standard policy, but for an additional premium,
homeowners may also purchase flood coverage for up to $100,000 of damage to
For more information about flood insurance, visit the NFIP Web site at
CFO SINK: TAMPA DUO ARRESTED FOR OVER $40,000 IN PIP-RELATED
Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink announced the arrest of two Tampa
women on charges they allegedly billed insurance companies for over $40,000 in
Personal Injury Protection- (PIP) related fraud charges.
Emilia Morejon, 34, and Yusdelin Castillo Valdes, 24, of Tampa are alleged to
have submitted fraudulent bills totaling over $40,000 to several insurance
carriers. Morejon, owner of Personal Injury Clinic, and Valdes, the clinic
receptionist, submitted fraudulent bills for treatment not rendered. The two
were arrested Monday, booked into a Hillsborough County jail, and charged with
Second Degree Insurance Fraud and Patient Brokering. If convicted, they could
potentially face up to 15-years in prison.
The Department of Financial Services, Division of Insurance Fraud (DIF) was
assisted in the investigation by the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) and
The cost of insurance fraud is estimated at as much as $1,400 a year in premiums
for the average Florida 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.
FIREFIGHTER AND EMERGENCY MEDICAL SERVICE SAFETY,
HEALTH AND SURVIVAL WEEK
June 22-28 marks the national fire and emergency medical service (EMS)
safety, health and survival week. The theme of this week is “Committed
to Long-Term Results” which encourages firefighters and chiefs to focus
on what can be done to reduce firefighter deaths and injuries.
There is a memorial at the Florida State Fire College and a memorial
display in the rotunda of the State Capitol that recognize Florida’s
Firefighters who have sacrificed their lives in the line of duty. These
firefighters are honored, and it is important to do what is necessary so
the memorial lists don’t grow longer.
The week focuses activities on three key areas including standard
operating procedures, policies, and initiatives, in an effort to reduce
fire/EMS personnel risk of injury or death.
Currently, Florida is the only state with an Occupational Safety and
Health Act (OSHA) just for the fire service assigned to the Division of
State Fire Marshal. The Florida Firefighter Occupational Safety and
Health Act is designed to protect Florida firefighters. Also the state
has special training programs for firefighter survival and rescue at the
Florida State Fire College.
For more information see the
Florida Firefighter's Safety and Health page:
Consumer Services Helpline