My Florida C F O

Dear Fellow Floridians:

There was a big win this week for the 20 million residents of Florida because on Tuesday Governor Scott signed Senate Bill 966 into law. This new law ensures that promises made by life insurance companies will now be promises kept, which is good for consumers everywhere.

This bill meant a great deal to me, and I’m proud to say that it moved through the entire legislative process without receiving a single no vote, showing that the legislature echoed my support of this consumer-friendly legislation. Thank you to Governor Scott for signing this legislation into law and to our bill sponsors, Representative Bill Hager of Delray Beach and Senator Lizbeth Benacquisto of Fort Myers for dedicating your time, effort and energy to help make this new law a reality.

By way of background, many years ago, my office, alongside Florida’s Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty, discovered a disturbing practice within the life insurance industry that grossly reduced the number of policies that were paid out in a timely manner. By shielding themselves from information about a policyholder’s death or by hiding behind loopholes buried in policy paperwork, they’ve withheld funds and kept the money inside the company where it has earned interest to the company’s benefit.

We worked to correct course on the way these companies were conducting business and we ultimately settled with more than half of the largest companies that do business in Florida. However, we knew that it was important to hold all companies accountable and that’s why we moved forward with this legislation.

With the signing of this bill, the industry’s business practices will now have to change. The favor has now shifted toward the consumer. This new law will help hundreds of thousands of Floridians gain access to life insurance benefits that they may otherwise never have received.

It’s important to know that this is not just a Florida story; it impacts families across the country — hundreds of thousands of Americans nationwide. This story is so important that 60 Minutes — a television program known for in-depth coverage of the nation’s most important issues — produced a story about this very topic.

We participated in the telling of that story, and I am pleased to share that it will be airing this Sunday. I hope you’ll tune in to your local CBS station to hear their take on this important consumer issue. Check your local listings for specific channel and time information.

I’ll be watching with my team, too. I hope you enjoy the show.

Sincerely,

Jeff
Jeff Atwater
Chief Financial Officer
State of Florida


Check Your NameHave You Checked Your Name?

Are we holding life insurance benefits — or other unclaimed property — that may belong to you? To find out, check your name on our website at www.FLtreasurehunt.org.

As we work to implement the new Florida law that requires life insurers to do more to find beneficiaries and as we receive additional life insurance policies for beneficiaries that life insurance companies have been unable to contact, we’ll keep you updated every step of the way.

Currently, the Florida Bureau of Unclaimed Property holds accounts valued at more than $1 billion. In addition to insurance proceeds, money and securities, unclaimed property includes tangible property such as watches, jewelry, coins, currency, stamps, historical items and other articles from abandoned safe deposit boxes. There is no statute of limitations on claims and citizens have the right to claim their property any time at no cost.

Our goal is to make sure these funds make it back into the hands of the rightful owners and beneficiaries.

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Florida Economic Briefs

Florida expected to outpace the nation in economic growth
Florida’s leading index is expected to increase by 2.4 percent over the next 6 months, 0.8 percentage points higher than the national prediction of 1.6 percent. Leading indexes predict the six-month growth rate of the state’s coincident index, which is a summary of current economic conditions.
Source: Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia

Florida’s Tax Freedom Day is April 20, 2016
Tax Freedom Day is when the nation as a whole has earned enough money to pay its total tax bill for the entire year. A report by the Tax Foundation has shown that Florida’s Tax Freedom Day falls on April 20, which is four days earlier than the National Tax Freedom Day of April 24. This means that Floridians get to keep four more days' worth of income in their wallet than the rest of the nation.
Source: Tax Foundation