Volume 2 Number 6
February 7, 2005







As Florida's chief financial officer, I have asked for a freeze on all insurance rate increases for homeowners policies. 

After hearing that the Office of Insurance Regulation approved double-digit rate increases on homeowners just last summer, I understand that Nationwide has submitted a second round of rate requests – an average 28.3 percent for homeowners and in excess of 100 percent for mobile homes. 

I’m extremely concerned that there is a trend with companies, including Nationwide, trying to recoup their losses from the hurricanes or raising their rates so policyholders are forced to drop coverage.

Homeowners who have suffered losses from the four back-to-back storms should not be victimized a second time.  Insurance companies should not be in a rush to raise rates. 

The prudent thing to do is to slow down and consider the consequences of rate increases on storm victims who are not able to handle an additional financial burden.

That’s why I’m asking state regulators to hold off approval of pending and future rate increases.  

The market needs to stabilize and state lawmakers should have the opportunity to act on recommendations for insurance reform that will help offset the need for rate increases.

I urge you to voice your concerns to your local lawmakers.

On another note 

For 79 years Americans have celebrated Black History Month, and this year there is much to celebrate. 

I am thinking particularly about what is occurring this week in negotiations to advance peace in the Middle East.  America’s first black female Secretary of State is on the verge of negotiating a real peace deal. 

Condoleeza Rice was a young girl when black men and women were still struggling for her right to work hard and earn the position she now holds.  And, as a result, we have a bright and accomplished woman helping to lead the struggle for freedom around the world.

Black History Month continues through the end of February.  I urge all of us to think about the importance of that history to the future of the country and the world. 

The Old Hernando County Courthouse, surrounded by grand old oak trees, was built in 1912 in the county seat of Brooksville.


Hurricane Deductibles


Just three weeks after the Department of Financial Services launched its Multiple Deductible Reimbursement Program, more than 2,300 checks totaling $2,300,000 have been mailed, according to Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher.

The money, as appropriated by state lawmakers, will help reimburse storm victims for deductible losses.  The department has received over 14,000 applications in the last two weeks.

Gallagher raised concerns that more than 10 percent of the applications are being submitted without a social security number, which is needed to process them.  Another 5 percent are coming in without necessary signatures.

“We have much work left to do, but Florida has come a long way in recovering from the unbelievable hurricane season we were hit with,” said Gallagher, who oversees the department.  “But the good news is that claims are getting paid and rebuilding is under way.”

Pictured from left to right are:
OFR Commissioner Donald Saxon,
Linda Charity, OFR; CFO Tom Gallagher, Mary Martha Fortney, Nascus; Sharon Whiddon, OFR; Guy Hood, Florida Credit Union League; and Alex Hager, OFR.



At the February 1st Cabinet meeting, Treasurer Gallagher, Governor Bush and the other members of the Florida Cabinet recognized the accreditation of the Office of Financial Regulation by the National Association of State Credit Union Supervisors (NASCUS.)  

In order to receive NASCUS accreditation, an agency must demonstrate high levels of proficiency in department administration, personnel, training, examination, supervision and legislative powers.   

Florida became the 28th state in the Nation to receive this designation recognizing high credit union regulatory standards.  This recognition further demonstrates the safety and soundness of Florida’s 101-chartered credit unions. 


Florida Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) is a detailed financial report which includes financial statements presenting the financial condition of the state at fiscal year-end and the results of operations for the fiscal year.  The CAFR was prepared in conformance with generally accepted accounting principles applicable to state and local governments.  The basic financial statements within the CAFR have been audited by the Auditor General.

The CAFR provides information which is used by investment companies such as Moody's Investors Services and Standard and Poors Corporation to determine the state's fiscal integrity and set bond rates.  The 2004 report is now available online and in print.





More than a dozen South Florida customers also face charges

A man who sold fake motor vehicle insurance cards to nearly 200 South Florida drivers has been sentenced to three years in prison, and more than a dozen of his customers are now facing charges that they knowingly presented the false insurance cards.

Howard M. McKinon, 58, of 481 W. 30th St., pleaded guilty to nine counts of marketing a false or fraudulent motor vehicle insurance card and one count of organized scheme to defraud.  The charges stem from an investigation by the Department of Financial Services, Division of Insurance Fraud.  The Palm Beach County State Attorney’s Office prosecuted the charges.  The sentence was handed down on Monday.

“This individual put many Floridians at risk beyond those he sold these cards to, and I’m glad that those who knowingly colluded in the scheme are also being held accountable,” said Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher, who oversees the department.






Each one of us is a consumer – and we all need help with a question or complaint from time to time.  

This week is National Consumer Protection Week.  While the focus of the week is on identity theft, the country’s fastest-growing crime, I believe it is also an opportunity to thank those who are committed to providing consumer assistance. 

In all that we do at the Department of Financial Services, protecting the rights and interests of Floridians is our goal. 

Our consumer specialists in the Division of Consumer Assistance helped more than 418,000 Floridians last year with information to questions, and opened 94,000 complaint files, almost half dealing with hurricane-related issues.   CONTINUED