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CFO Sink "Safeguard our Seniors" Legislation Passes Senate Committee Unanimously

2/2/2010

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 2, 2010
CONTACT: Kyra Jennings or Jayme O’Rourke (850) 413-2842
 
CFO SINK “SAFEGUARD OUR SENIORS” LEGISLATION PASSES SENATE COMMITTEE UNANIMOUSLY
Bi-Partisan Legislation to Protect Florida’s Seniors Clears First Hurdle
 
TALLAHASSEE –Florida CFO Alex Sink today commended the Florida Senate Committee on Banking and Insurance for unanimously passing Safeguard our Seniors legislation (SB 844) sponsored by Senator Mike Bennett  and Representative Maria Lorts Sachs.  The legislation will hold those who prey on Florida’s seniors accountable by increasing the penalty for unscrupulous agents to a third degree felony and establishing better disclosures and protections upfront for seniors who invest in annuity products. 
 
CFO Sink is continuing her fight to protect Florida’s seniors, after these proposals were blocked during the 2009 session by special interests who did not want to hold these deceptive insurance agents accountable.  Last year, the Safeguard our Seniors bill passed the Florida Senate unanimously, but failed to be heard in the Florida House.  CFO Sink expressed hope that the Florida House would make protecting seniors a priority this year.
 
“Today’s vote is a significant first step toward offering Florida’s seniors the protection they deserve and holding those who try to prey on our seniors accountable, and I thank Senator Bennett for his continued work to address this issue,” said CFO Sink. “Unfortunately, we have had even more seniors come forward with complaints about annuities scams, with our department investigating 277 annuity cases in 2009 alone. It is my hope that this session Florida’s lawmakers will put the interests of Florida’s seniors above the special interests, and pass this important bill.” 
 
The Safeguard our Seniors legislation makes the act of “twisting” an annuity to a senior consumer a third degree felony.  Other protections under the proposed legislation would:
 
  • Limit the surrender charge period for an annuity sold to a senior consumer to ten years and the surrender charge to 10 percent;
  • Extend the “free look” period for the purchase of an annuity by a senior consumer from 14 to 30 days;
  • Authorize the Department to require an agent to make monetary restitution to a senior consumer they’ve harmed;
  • Prohibit the Department from issuing another license to a former licensee who has had his or her license revoked resulting from the solicitation or sale of an insurance product to a senior consumer.
  • Require an insurer to provide a cover sheet attached to the policy when an annuity is issued informing the purchaser about the free look period and about how to contact the insurer and the department if they have questions about the annuity.
Two years ago, CFO Sink created a Safeguard our Seniors Task Force to examine and recommend solutions to better protect Florida seniors from being robbed of their life savings after being lured into purchasing unsuitable financial products. The Safeguard Our Seniors Task Force includes representatives from AARP Florida, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, the Insurance Consumer Advocate, the Offices of Insurance Regulation and Financial Regulation, NAACP, the Florida Bar, the American Council of Life Insurers, insurance agents and securities broker-dealers.  The Safeguard our Seniors legislation was developed from recommendations by the task force.
 
To learn more about the Safeguard Our Seniors Task Force or what to consider when purchasing annuities, visit www.flseniors.net/.  Senior Floridians who believe they may have been the victim of annuity fraud should call 1-877-My-FL-CFO or log on to www.MyFloridaCFO.com to file a complaint.
 
 
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