Volume 1 Number 9
March 1, 2004



This week marks the start of the 2004 legislative session and state lawmakers are expected to consider several issues facing Floridians including health insurance, education and approving the state’s budget.  For many working and retired Floridians, a chief concern is personal finance.  This year, the Department of Financial Services is promoting a number of proposals to assist Florida’s financial consumers. 

Our top priorities include a Financial Consumer’s Bill of Rights, aimed at providing consumers with fair and reasonable options when dealing with insurance situations.  Floridians like Charles, from Altamonte Springs, would benefit from the passage of this bill.  Charles’s mortgage company did not pay his insurance premium from escrow as required.  As a result, Charles suffered an uncovered loss and is now unable to find insurance coverage because of the claim.  Another consumer, Edward, from Sarasota, attempted to get insurance coverage for a new home but was refused because a prior owner of the home had filed a water damage claim. 

We’re also supporting a bill to help prevent identity theft when an insurance company or financial institution improperly disposes of customer records.   A measure to prohibit abusive tactics used by some debt collection agencies is also being pursued.

Lastly, we are pushing for legislation to require insurance companies and their agents to clearly document the suitability of annuities for seniors.  We’ve heard horror stories from hundreds of seniors who lost their life savings because annuities sold to them did not meet their financial needs and objectives.  Paul, age 75, from Lake County, told us he purchased an annuity which contained surrender charges for 10 years.  He originally intended to make a short-term investment, and because of poor health, he does not believe he will survive the 10 years.

I encourage you to contact your local legislators to offer your support for these important initiatives.



A Consumer Guide is available from the Florida Department of Financial Services. Click above for more information.



Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher announced that he is pursuing a bill to prevent abusive sales practices of annuities sold to seniors.  An annuity is an insurance contract that offers a guaranteed series of payments over a period of time.

“Annuities can be an effective investment tool for many Floridians wanting a steady stream of income for retirement,” said Gallagher. “But some of our state’s seniors are being preyed upon by agents who are motivated by commission payments, not consideration of a senior’s financial circumstances.  We need to hold companies and agents accountable for the products they sell and the investment advice they give.”  CONTINUED

Florida Black Bear

Eastern Indigo Snake

Gopher Tortoise

Gopher Tortoise



Black-Eyed Susan                          Hartwrightia floridana


The Governor and Cabinet, sitting as the Board of Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund, have joined forces with the National Guard to provide necessary buffering for Camp Blanding.  In addition to serving as the primary training area for the Florida Army National Guard, Camp Blanding is also used to train the U.S. Navy SEALS, the U.S. Air Force, foreign military units and civilian law enforcement agencies. 

The first of its kind, the acquisition serves dual purposes: preserving natural resources and prohibiting encroachment on military operations.  The joint acquisition preserved approximately 8,666.10 acres within the Northeast Florida Timberlands Florida Forever project--located southeast of the Camp Blanding Military Reservation. 

This key acquisition provides habitat for the Florida black bear, gopher tortoise, southeastern weasel, flatwoods salamander, and the eastern indigo snake as well as the Hartwrightia, Pondspice, and St. John black-eyed Susan plants.

Florida’s portion of the funding for this acquisition comes from the Florida Forever land acquisition program, a 10-year, $3 billion land conservation program administered by the Governor and Cabinet as the Board of Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund.










Since taking office in 2003, Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher has forged a cooperative relationship with state financial regulators overseeing Florida’s banking, mortgage, investments and short-term loan industries.  The ultimate goal is to ensure Florida maintains a strong and healthy financial system and consumers are protected from fraud and abuse.  This has ensured that consumers continue to be protected from fraud and abuses and that Florida maintains its strong and healthy financial system. CONTINUED

CFO Gallagher spoke at the Leadership Dinner for the Florida Bankers Association in Palm Beach Gardens on February 25, 2004.