My Florida C F O

Dear Fellow Floridians:

As Tropical Depression Nine has recently strengthened to become Tropical Storm Hermine and continues on its path toward Florida’s coast, I encourage you to prepare today for its arrival tomorrow afternoon. Stock up on storm supplies like bottled water and batteries, and make sure you have copies of your insurance and financial papers readily available. With current concerns about the spread of the Zika virus, I also suggest having mosquito repellent on hand due to the likelihood of excess standing water left behind by the storm.

Many of us have seen several storms come and go during our time as Florida residents, some large storms and some small. While Tropical Storm Hermine may not appear to be of great concern, it bears repeating that wind speed isn’t always the best judge of a storm’s strength. Storms dump inches upon inches of rain on sometimes low-lying areas, causing flash flooding that can last for days. Flooding can cause a world of damage to your home and property, and it’s certainly not something to take lightly.

In advance of the storm's arrival, Governor Rick Scott has declared a state of emergency in 42 of Florida’s 67 counties. He did so to make sure that state, local, and regional agencies can collaborate to make sure Florida families have what they need. The region within this declaration extends from Florida’s Panhandle down through the Tampa Bay area. For a complete list of the included counties, click here to read the Governor’s order.

A few simple steps can be taken now to help ensure your family is ready. They include:

  • As the storm moves closer, protect your property. Buy the materials you need to secure your property and minimize your losses. Cover your windows with shutters, siding, or plywood. Move vehicles into a garage or carport when possible. Grills and/or patio furniture should be moved inside as well.
  • Inventory your household items, including receipts, purchase dates, and serial numbers. Photograph or videotape your possessions. Keep copies of this information and your insurance policies in a safe place and keep the originals in a safe deposit box.
  • Write down the name, address, and claims-reporting telephone number of your insurance company, which may differ from your agent's contact information. Keep this information in a safe place and make sure you have access to it if you are forced to evacuate your home.

Of course in the event that you do have damage, take photos of the damaged area and notify your insurance company immediately. Document all repair-related conversations and keep track of your paperwork. If you have questions about what is or isn’t covered under your policy, now is the time to make sure you understand your policy. Call us at 1-877-693-5236 to talk to one of our insurance experts. They can also provide you with helpful information about storm preparation.

Unfortunately, scammers tend to pop up after storms, so Attorney General Pam Bondi has activated her office’s price gouging hotline. Give her a call at 1-866-9-NO-SCAM if you suspect such activity.

We’ll be keeping you informed on our social media channels throughout today and into tomorrow. Visit Facebook.com/FLDFS or Twitter.com/FLDFS to learn more.

Sincerely,

Jeff
Jeff Atwater
Chief Financial Officer
State of Florida


September is Life Insurance Awareness Month

Life Insurance Guide

September is Life Insurance Awareness Month, and the topic of life insurance is an important one. Life insurance can be a valuable tool that provides piece of mind to you and your family. It’s a way of helping to make sure your final costs are covered and that your family is taken care of after you pass away. A 2016 study found that 83 percent of consumers agree that most Americans need life insurance, yet 95 million Americans have no life insurance coverage.

I encourage all Floridians to use September as an opportunity to learn more about life insurance and its benefits. However, make sure to thoroughly communicate with your beneficiary(ies) about any and all policies that are purchased. Years ago, Florida’s Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty and I discovered some disturbing practices in which some life insurance policies were not being paid out to beneficiaries because the insurance companies claimed they didn’t know the policyholder had passed away. However, during the 2016 Legislative Session, I worked alongside the Legislature to file and pass a bill, which is now Florida law, that ensures life insurance companies properly and timely pay out life insurance policies to the proper beneficiaries. Take some time to learn more about life insurance and have a talk with your family about the value and the potential need to have policies in place. These are the tough talks that truly matter.

Florida's Bottom Line: Florida PALM Project

Melissa Turner, project director of  Florida PALMMelissa Turner guest authored a column in our current edition that focuses on the Florida PALM project. Here is an excerpt:

The Department of Financial Services (DFS) is responsible for operating two of the five enterprise information subsystems that make up the financial infrastructure for the state of Florida [also known as the Florida Financial Management Information System (FFMIS)]. The current financial accounting system (maintained by DFS) processes nearly $90 billion in payments annually on a software system that is more than 30 years old. While the system has been patched, updated, and modified many times over the years, these workarounds are becoming increasingly time consuming, more difficult, more expensive, and leave the state exposed to unnecessary risks. A 2013 study affirmed statewide concerns and recommended replacing Florida’s Accounting Information Resource (FLAIR) and Cash Management System (CMS) with a single, integrated Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution. As a result, the Florida PALM (Planning, Accounting, and Ledger Management) Project was created to replace the financial accounting infrastructure.

The vision of the Florida PALM Project is to implement a statewide financial management system that enforces standardization, acts as a scalable foundation to evolve as business needs change, and positions Florida for future innovation as it considers a true enterprise-wide solution.

Read more from Melissa Turner in Florida's Bottom Line, CFO Atwater's award-winning quarterly economic magazine, focused on providing you with the latest news and insightful analysis on Florida's financial and economic health.

Florida Economic Briefs

Florida ranked second best large state for startup activity
In a recent report by the Kauffman Foundation, Florida was ranked as the second best state for startup activity. Among large states, Florida had the highest startup density rate as well as the third highest rate of new entrepreneurs. Additionally, Miami ranked as the second best metropolitan area in the U.S. for startup activity.
Source: Kauffman Foundation

Florida’s housing market remains hot in July
In July, the median sales price of homes rose 11.6 percent over the year, to $223,238. Additionally, more than 24,000 homes were sold in Florida, down 8.0 percent over the year. The drop in home sales was due in large part to fewer homes on the market.
Source: Florida Realtors