It is back-to-school time, and millions of parents are helping their
children get ready for another rigorous academic year. No doubt, you are
buying pencils, erasers, books, and countless other supplies to help your
children get prepared.
Don’t forget to add health insurance to your list! In order to do well at
school, children need to be healthy, and that means access to preventative
health care. At Florida KidCare, you can purchase affordable health
insurance for your children!
Did you know:
Florida KidCare is a
public-private partnership that helps families purchase affordable
health insurance for their children;
More than 1.4 million
children currently have insurance through Florida KidCare;
Some of the services
covered by Florida KidCare are doctor visits, check-ups and shots,
hospital visits, surgery, prescriptions, emergencies, vision and
hearing, dental visits, mental health and more;
Families pay based on
their income level, with many working families paying $20 a month or
You can apply online at
“We have a simple message: KidCare is open for business and
is providing quality health insurance at an affordable
price,” said CFO Sink, who chairs the Healthy Kids Board.
“With Florida KidCare, many working families are ensuring
their children have access to preventative health care.”
CFO SINK RECEIVES CHAMPION FOR BUSINESS
This week, Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink became
the first Cabinet member in history to receive a Champion
for Business Award from the Associated Industries of Florida
(AIF). While receiving the award, CFO Sink addressed the
organization during a luncheon last Tuesday in Tallahassee.
Instituted in 2003, Champion for Business awards are given
to dedicated leaders who support initiatives that help
jumpstart the economy and encourage growth of Florida’s
business. A Champion for Business is a strong elected
official who promotes policies to grow Florida’s economy,
increase competition and encourage prosperity for all
FLORIDA’S UNCLAIMED PROPERTY AUCTION
RAISES RECORD FUNDS FOR
FLORIDA’S PUBLIC SCHOOLS
Auction draws hundreds and raises more than $925,000 for
Bidders from around the nation descended on
Tampa Bay last Saturday to find lost treasure at Florida
Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink’s annual Unclaimed
Property Auction. Coordinated by CFO Sink’s Department of
Financial Services, Bureau of Unclaimed Property (Bureau),
the auction shattered previous auction records by raising
$925,550 for Florida’s public schools — a $108,000 increase
over last year.
“I am thankful to the Floridians who bid on the wonderful
items up for auction and the members of our Bureau who
worked so hard to make this event a success,” said CFO Sink,
who oversees the Bureau. “Not only did we raise a
record-breaking $925,550 for Florida school children, we
also raised awareness about our mission of reuniting
Floridians with their unclaimed property.”
The Bureau’s first priority is to reunite Floridians with
their lost property. Every year, the Bureau receives
millions in assets and abandoned contents of safe deposit
boxes, and has had tremendous success in finding owners.
During Sink’s tenure as CFO, more than $322 million has been
returned to the rightful owners (or heirs) of 496,374
The Bureau spends up to two years searching for the rightful
owners or heirs after receiving items in safe deposit boxes
that have been abandoned at least three years. When owners
or heirs cannot be found, the items are auctioned. While the
proceeds from the auctioned items are transferred to the
State School Trust Fund, the money is held in the original
owners' name and can be claimed for free at any time.
More than 400 lots were sold during Saturday’s auction, with
the proceeds going to the State School Trust Fund. The top
selling item was a pair of platinum and gold earrings, each
bearing a 3 carat European cut diamond, which sold for
$18,000. Other top selling items included:
bar of .999 fine silver, which sold for $1,800;
of 13 gold coins, 1915 Austrian restrike (100 Coronas),
which sold for $11,000;
platinum and yellow gold brooch with 393 diamonds and 93
sparkling rubies, which sold for $16,000; and
collection of 1905 bronze opera glasses, 1921 Morgan
dollar keychain and Cartier lighter, which sold for
encouraged to search the Unclaimed Property Web site at
www.FLTreasureHunt.org for their own names and the
names of their family members and ancestors. Many of the
accounts held by the state are in the name of deceased
relatives, and it can be difficult for the state to locate
the heirs of these accounts. Floridians can also contact the
Bureau at 1-88-VALUABLE. Unclaimed property may always be
claimed free of charge.
The Bureau is currently holding 7.8 million accounts, mostly
from dormant accounts in financial institutions, unclaimed
utility deposits, insurance benefits, premium refunds,
uncashed checks and trust accounts, as well as watches,
jewelry, coins, stamps and historical items from abandoned
safe deposit boxes. Since the program's inception 47 years
ago, the Bureau has successfully reunited owners with more
than $1.2 billion in unclaimed property. During the past
five years, the program has returned more than $697 million,
more than 60 percent of all the money returned since the
beginning of the program – due largely to aggressive efforts
by the program to contact owners.
CFO SINK HONORS SUSTAINABLE FLORIDA AWARD
At Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting, Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink honored the
winners of the Sustainable Florida Awards. Sustainable Florida awards are
given to Floridians, businesses and governments who have made a commitment
to a Sustainable Florida and have demonstrated exemplary leadership.
Sustainable Florida award winners promote the goals of a healthy
environment, a prosperous economy, a satisfying quality of life, broad
public participation, and vibrant, livable communities.
This year, the Council for Sustainable Florida honored the following
SUSTAINABLE FLORIDA SMALL BUSINESS BEST PRACTICE AWARD
Al & Erin Rosas - Rosas Farms
SUSTAINABLE FLORIDA LARGE BUSINESS BEST PRACTICE AWARD
Valley Forge Fabrics, Inc.
SUSTAINABLE FLORIDA GOVERNMENT BEST PRACTICE AWARD
City of Tallahassee
SUSTAINABLE FLORIDA NON-PROFIT BEST PRACTICE AWARD
Tournament Players Club at Sawgrass
SUSTAINABLE FLORIDA BUSINESS PARTNERSHIP BEST PRACTICE AWARD
Jacobs / Lockheed Martin - Building 10 Demolition
SUSTAINABLE FLORIDA LEADERSHIP BEST PRACTICE AWARD
Augusto Casamayor – AC Graphics
GREEN BUILDING BEST PRACTICE AWARD
Space Coast Architects, P.A.
SUSTAINABLE FLORIDA LEGACY AWARD
Are you the chief
financial officer of your family? Are you always
looking out for the best deals, wise investments and
smart moves for your family's financial security?
As your family's fiscal
watch dog, keep an eye on
this column for money-smart ideas from the Chief
Financial Officer of Florida,
It is wise to establish and maintain an emergency
Emergency funds are highly-liquid savings accounts you can tap to help pay
for unplanned events— like job loss, home repairs or other unexpected
We purchase insurance to protect us during many of life’s emergencies, but
it won’t cover everything. Many insurance policies require significant
deductibles or co-pays before the insurance coverage kicks in.
Studies have shown that you are more likely to accumulate debt if you don’t
establish an emergency savings account. Some people have a tendency to use
high-interest credit cards or payday loans to cover emergencies.
It may seem difficult to include an emergency fund as a part of your budget,
but the truth is you can’t afford not to have one. A good rule of thumb is
to save enough to cover three months worth of expenses. Review your
financial situation and start saving today.
MONEY IN YOUR POCKET - DON'T MISS OUT
ON YOUR STIMULUS PAYMENT
Have you received your stimulus payment? More than 400,000
eligible Florida seniors and veterans have not filed for
their stimulus checks. That’s more than $120 million that
eligible Floridians are leaving on the table. The good news
– it’s not too late!
If you want your stimulus payment, you need to file a tax
return first. This is especially important for retirees and
disabled veterans who don't normally need to file taxes. The
Internal Revenue Service (IRS) began sending out letters
earlier this summer reminding eligible taxpayers who have
not filed and extending the deadline to file until October
“Many of Florida’s retirees, disabled
citizens and veterans are entitled to an economic stimulus
payment, but only if they request it by October 15, 2008,”
said Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink.
The most common reasons eligible recipients haven not filed
for the stimulus payments include confusion with the
eight-page booklet explaining how to fill out the 1040A form
to get the one-time payment, or the unfounded concern that
filing for the stimulus will impact current benefits or tax
status. Fortunately, there's still time to file a 2007
federal income tax return and receive $300 - or $600 for
those married and filing jointly - this year. Some also may
be eligible for an additional $300 for each qualifying
The IRS wants Floridians to know that recipients will not
owe taxes on their stimulus payment, and that receiving a
stimulus payment does not have any impact on the eligibility
for other federal benefits.
To be eligible for a stimulus payment, a federal income tax
return for 2007 must show at least $3,000 in qualifying
income, such as earned income, Social Security benefits,
certain veterans' benefits and certain Railroad Retirement
benefits. Supplemental Security Income is not qualifying
Floridians with questions can contact the Florida Department
of Financial Services Consumer Helpline by calling
1-877-MY-FL-CFO (1-877-693-5236), toll-free in Florida and
(850) 413-3030 from out of state. The IRS phone number for
stimulus check questions is 1-866-234-2942 or visit the IRS
at www.irs.gov for more
information and local office locations.
STATE FIRE COLLEGE HOLDS FIRST ANNUAL FIRE
RESCUE CADET ACADEMY
Forty-six cadets and 10 advisors descended on the Florida State
Fire College in Ocala for the first annual Fire Rescue Cadet
A section of the Florida Fire Chiefs Association, the cadet program
was established to help train Florida’s future firefighters.
“It has been a pleasure having the cadets on our campus,” said Dave
Casey, Bureau Chief of the Florida State Fire College. “We hope we
have helped instill in them the motto of the program: Preparing
Tomorrow’s Firefighters Today. We look forward to bringing back and
growing the program next year."
The cadets’ training helped familiarize attendees with fire hoses,
nozzles, and hose streams; with each cadet getting the opportunity
to operate the nozzle individually and as a group.
Training came alive when the cadets played a game of soccer where
only the water from the hose could touch the ball. This drill gave
the real feel of maneuvering a charged hose line.
Another drill focused on properly putting on fire gear in a hurry.
And, you can learn how to better move around in your protective gear
by playing a game of volleyball.
After reviewing and practicing tying safety and rescue knots, the cadets
took a “step of faith” to see if their ties would hold. As they stepped off
that ledge, all were pleased that they had made the ties correctly.
Next, the cadets traveled through a plywood maze with twists, turns and
obstacles for nearly 100 feet. After the maze, the cadets simulated
searching for a victim in a three-room apartment, set up with old discarded
furniture. Since there was no smoke, cadets wore protective hoods to
simulate the visual difficulty experienced during a fire.
At weekend's end, the cadets gathered in an auditorium for their graduation
ceremony, which included an honor guard’s presentation of the colors and
comments from Lt. Rodney Robertson of Martin County Fire Rescue, Susan
Schell, Fire College Instructor Supervisor, and Dave Casey, Bureau Chief of
the Florida State Fire College.
INSURANCE FRAUD: WHAT IS
IT AND HOW DO I REPORT IT?
Each year, insurance fraud costs companies and consumers
alike tens of billions of dollars. In order to better
identify and reduce incidents of insurance fraud — and, most
important, protect consumers — the National Association of
Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) offers the following tips for
identifying and responding to insurance fraud.
What Is Insurance Fraud?
Insurance fraud occurs when an insurance company, agent,
adjuster or consumer commits a deliberate deception in order
to obtain an illegitimate gain. It can occur during the
process of buying, using, selling or underwriting insurance.
What Types of Insurance Fraud Are There?
Fake insurance companies defraud consumers by collecting
premiums for bogus policies with no intention of paying
claims. These “companies” might offer policies at costs that
are significantly lower than competitors’ prices or they
might be difficult to reach by phone — if there is a listed
phone number at all. Consumers should check in advance that
they are dealing with a legitimate, licensed insurer before
signing an application for a policy. Your state insurance
department can provide licensing information for a company
or agent. For a link to your state insurance department Web
site, go to
Legitimate companies that are not licensed by the state to
sell insurance might lead consumers to think they are
selling “insurance” while evading state insurance
regulations. A company selling a health discount plan might
call the plan insurance when it is really an unregulated,
non-insurance product. If you question whether a product you
are offered is insurance, contact your state insurance
Individuals within the insurance industry have also deceived
consumers for personal gain. For example, an unscrupulous
insurance agent might collect premiums from a customer
without passing them along to the company. The consumer
believes that their premiums are being properly handled
while the insurance company thinks the policyholder is not
paying their premiums and, therefore, cancels or nonrenews
the consumer's policy. If you do not receive an insurance ID
card or a copy of your policy in a timely manner, this could
be an indication that your premiums have not been paid to
your insurance company. If you have questions or concerns,
contact your insurance company directly or call your state
Consumers can also be guilty of insurance fraud. Deliberate
attempts to stage an accident, injury, theft, arson or other
type of loss that would be covered under an insurance
policy; exaggerating a legitimate claim; and/or knowingly
omitting or providing false information on an application
for a policy are all examples of consumer insurance fraud.
How do I report a suspected incident of Insurance Fraud?
If you believe that you have been a victim of insurance
fraud, or if you are aware of an instance of insurance
fraud, it is important to
Contact your state insurance department
to file a complaint against the insurance company; and/or
Visit www.naic.org and complete the form
provided by the Online Fraud Reporting System (OFRS). Through the OFRS,
the NAIC and state regulators are encouraging consumers to take a
proactive role in identifying and reporting insurance fraud. Not only
does this minimize future instances of insurance fraud, but it also
reduces unnecessary insurance costs. N
Who Responds to Insurance Fraud?
Most states have special fraud bureaus — frequently housed within the
department of insurance — to address the growing problem of insurance fraud.
These bureaus take referrals and investigate cases regarding insurance fraud
from various sources, such as law enforcement agencies, insurance companies
and consumer complaints.
State insurance departments have recently sought to enhance their collection
of information from consumers, insurance producers and employees of insurers
concerning alleged violations of insurance laws and regulations. Consumers
can contact their state insurance department if they have questions
regarding possible fraudulent activity.
Stop. Call. Confirm.
If you are unsure about the insurance company or agent you are dealing with,
STOP before signing any paperwork or writing a check; CALL your state
insurance department — easily reached by phone; and CONFIRM the company or
agent offering insurance is legitimate and licensed in the state.
For more information about auto, home, life and health insurance options, as
well as tips for choosing the coverage that is right for you and your
family, visit www.insureUonline.org.