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CFO Sink's Priority Safeguard Our Seniors Legislation Passes Legislature

4/30/2010

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 30, 2010
CONTACT: Kevin Cate (850) 413-2842

CFO SINK’S PRIORITY SAFEGUARD OUR SENIORS LEGISLATION PASSES LEGISLATURE

TALLAHASSEE— Florida CFO Alex Sink’s Safeguard Our Seniors legislation passed the Florida Legislature today, strengthening senior investor fraud laws. This bi-partisan achievement is the culmination of a three-year push by CFO Sink to finally put “alligator teeth” in Florida’s senior investor fraud laws to deter senior scammers. Read more at FLSeniors.net.

“After three years of standing up for Florida's seniors and refusing to back down to the special interests, today with the passage of important Safeguard Our Seniors legislation, we've made a difference for our state,” said CFO Sink. “I’ve met with hundreds of senior victims throughout Florida, heard their heartbreaking stories, and fought for better protections and harsher penalties against seniors scammers -- and finally the Legislature did the right thing.

“I especially want to commend Senator Mike Bennett, who stood with me for years tirelessly pursuing tougher safeguards for our seniors and getting this bill unanimously passed through the Florida Senate.  I also want to credit Representative Maria Sachs, who was able to lead this legislation to victory in the House, and all the members of our bipartisan Safeguard Our Seniors task force."

The Safeguard Our Seniors Act, originally sponsored by Senator Mike Bennett and Representative Maria Sachs enacts the following safeguards:

  • Increases the financial penalty for the willful act of “twisting” or “churning” of an annuity to a maximum of $75,000, which is intended to be a strong disincentive to this unlawful behavior. 
  • Limits the period of a surrender charge for an annuity sold to a senior consumer (age 65 or older) to 10 years and limits the surrender charge to 10 percent. 
  • Extends the “free look” period for the purchase of an annuity by a senior consumer from 14 to 21 days.
  • Authorizes the Department of Financial Services to require an agent to make monetary restitution to a senior consumer harmed by a violation of the insurance code under certain circumstances.
  • Includes a third party marketer that aids and abets an insurance agent in the violation of the insurance code involving an annuity sale to a senior consumer as an affiliated party of the insurance agent, bringing that marketer under the regulatory authority of the department.
  • Gives the department authority to take license disciplinary action against an agent who has been disciplined under his or her securities broker-dealer license or a related license.
  • Prohibits the department from issuing a 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.
  • Extends the prohibition on a life insurance agent being the beneficiary of a life insurance policy by including the agent’s family members within the prohibition and by prohibiting the agent from serving as a guardian, trustee, or having power of attorney over the insured.
  • Requires 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.
  • Allows the use of video depositions in administrative hearings involving a senior consumer and requires compliance with the Rules of Civil Procedure.

CFO Sink’s Department of Financial Services has held nearly 400 Safeguard Our Seniors workshops throughout the state during the last two years to help seniors become better informed about how to protect themselves from financial fraud. The programs have helped Florida seniors recover nearly $11.2 million, and helped put some senior scammers behind bars.

To learn more about CFO Sink’s Safeguard Our Seniors Task Force, learn what to consider when purchasing annuities, or read the stories of senior victims, please visit www.flseniors.net.  Floridians who believe they may have been the victim of annuity fraud should call (850) 413-3089 or toll-free at 1-877-My-FL-CFO (1-877- 693-5236) or log on to www.MyFloridaCFO.com to file a complaint.

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As a statewide elected officer of the Florida Cabinet, CFO Alex Sink oversees the Department of Financial Services.  A successful business leader with nearly three decades of experience in the private sector, Sink is serving her first term as Florida's CFO.  CFO Sink's priorities include using her business experience to cut wasteful spending, holding government accountable to Florida’s taxpayers, and cracking down on financial and insurance fraud.