My Florida C F O

Dear Fellow Floridians:

As part of National Fire Prevention Week, from October 9 -15, I want to remind you how important it is to check your smoke alarms to make sure they are working properly and are not older than their ten-year life span.

Resolution presented to Florida firefightersThis year’s Fire Prevention Week theme is "Don’t wait — Check the Date!" and it represents the last year of a three-year series focused on ensuring that all American households have working smoke alarms that are checked monthly. To mark the occasion, I presented a resolution signed by the Governor and Cabinet to fire service leaders at the site of the Fallen Firefighter memorial located on the state Capitol grounds.Resolution presented to Florida Firefighters

Smoke alarms are proven to save lives, but they can’t help if the batteries are dead or if the machine isn’t working properly because it has outlived its life span. We’re focused this week — and year-round — on ensuring that all Florida families have smoke alarms in their homes and that they understand the importance of testing them. Don't Wait -- Check the Date
Did you know that firefighters across Florida responded to more than 50,000 fires during 2015, which translates roughly to one fire every 11 minutes? Nearly $700 million in property damage occurred that year, and 215 individuals lost their lives. Those are staggering numbers.

Within your home is where you are at greatest risk from fire, and studies show that most home fires occur between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. when most of us are asleep.

Florida’s first responders are committed to reducing the occurrence of home fires and home-fire injuries through education and prevention, but we should all take steps ourselves to help ensure our own safety. The simplest way for a family to increase their safety from fire is by having working smoke alarms in common areas and outside of all bedrooms.

To learn more about Fire Prevention Week, visit www.fpw.org. Please visit the site, and please check your smoke alarms this week. If you have children, even if they are adults, ask them to check theirs, too.

Sincerely,

Jeff
Jeff Atwater
Chief Financial Officer
State of Florida



Emergency Financial Preparedness ToolkitManaging the Post-Storm Insurance Claims Filing Process

 After Hurricane Matthew impacted Florida last week, residents affected by the storm began the process of surveying damages to their property and belongings. Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater and Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier have the following tips to help consumers in the process of filing insurance claims on damaged property and belongings:

Tip 1: Locate all applicable insurance policies. This may include a homeowners’ policy, flood policy (flood coverage is not covered under a typical homeowners’ policy and is separate coverage), and an automobile policy (may cover damage to your car from flooding).

Tip 2: Document all damaged property and belongings. Take photos or shoot video footage before attempting any temporary repairs. When you file an insurance claim, you may be asked for visual documentation of damages.

A photographic home inventory is a handy resource for this situation. A free smartphone app developed by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners called “MyHome Scr.APP.book” can help you take and store a room-by-room log of photos.

Tip 3: Contact your insurance company or insurance agent as soon as possible to report damages. Insurance policies require prompt reporting of claims, so it is important to act as soon as possible.

If you need help finding your property insurance company’s website and contact information, click here. For a list of licensed insurance agents in Florida, click here.

Tip 4: Cover damaged areas that may be exposed to the elements in order to prevent further damage. Your insurance company may reimburse the expense of these temporary repairs, so keep all receipts.

Do not dispose of any damaged personal property until your insurance company adjuster has had an opportunity to survey it.

  Consumers who have questions about their insurance coverage are encouraged to call CFO Atwater’s Department of Financial Services, Division of Consumer Services’ Insurance Helpline. Helpline experts can be reached by calling 1-877-MY-FL-CFO (1-877-693-5236), or online at: www.myfloridacfo.com/hurricanematthew.

 Additional storm-related information can be found on the Office of Insurance Regulation’s website at: www.floir.com/Office/HurricaneSeason/hurricaneresourcepage.aspx.

  If safe to do so, consumers should make temporary repairs to prevent further damages. However, consumers should obtain the licensing or training credentials of all third-party vendors, read all paperwork before signing any work agreements, and take note of any agreements that ask you to waive your rights. Beware of fly-by-night repair companies and hire only licensed and reputable vendors. Keep all receipts as these expenses may be reimbursed as part of the insurance claim.

Consumers should also remember these tips that will help facilitate a smooth claims process:

  • The maximum fees that public adjusters can charge to facilitate residential or commercial residential property claims resulting from a storm in a county within a declared state of emergency is limited to 10 percent of the funds recovered by the public adjuster
  • Florida has a single-season hurricane deductible. For multiple hurricane claims in a single year, if the hurricane deductible has been met on the first claim, the second claim will be subject to the all-peril deductible only. If the hurricane deductible was not fully met on the first claim, the second claim will be subject to the greater of the amount left over from the first hurricane deductible or the all-peril deductible

If possible, consumers should have insurance policy documents readily available. The more information that consumers have on hand, the more detailed help the Department’s insurance experts can provide. Floridians can also use this consumer helpline to report suspected fraudulent activity, and to verify the license of Florida insurance agents and adjusters.

Additional post-storm information can be found on the Department’s disaster preparedness website: www.myfloridacfo.com/HurricaneMatthew.


Florida's Bottom Line: Florida's Space Frontier

Frank DiBello guest authored a column in our latest edition that focuses on the future of space. Here is an excerpt:

In 1989, the State of Florida created the Florida Space Authority, then the nation’s first state space authority. With that act, Florida staked a claim to leadership in this nation’s future in space. And even though other states have tried to emulate what Florida did, under the latest evolution of that authority, Space Florida, the state’s national leadership in space has been solidified in the global marketplace.

Today, Florida can boast of being the home of the Cape Canaveral Spaceport, the busiest and most successful spaceport on the planet! And, every active launch pad at the Cape either has significant state investment arranged by the authority or is owned outright by Space Florida, enabled primarily by harnessing the power of private sector financing. Florida has embraced the future of space, which is increasingly and inevitably commercial.

Read more from Frank DiBello 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 economic and financial health.


Operation S.A.F.E., Be Scam Smart Workshops

Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater invites you to participate in Operation S.A.F.E., Be Scam Smart, a free workshop for seniors, their families, and caregivers.

The Florida Department of Financial Services launched Operation S.A.F.E. (Stop Adult Financial Exploitation) as part of CFO Atwater’s On Guard for Seniors initiative. Be Scam Smart workshops help inform, empower, and protect Florida’s seniors from financial scams and fraud. If you want to make sure your savings are protected, register for this workshop and get a better understanding of how scam artists and scams work.

Operation S.A.F.E.Be Scam Smart by learning more about:

  • How to Spot Fraudulent Behavior
  • Common Scams that Target Seniors
  • How to Fight Identity Theft

From seniors who attended Be Scam Smart workshops:

“Savored every moment of this workshop. The information was needed and vital for seniors’ and consumers’ financial survival.” - West Palm Beach

“Presentations were great & well timed. Excellent information we all need to know.” - Pensacola

“Every senior in the city and state should attend the Be Scam Smart Workshop.” - Jacksonville

“Thank you for alerting us to the scam we as seniors are exposed to.” - Brandon


Find out more about us in the About Us section or Register for an upcoming event, including the following workshop:

  • Wednesday, October 26 - Delray Beach
    10:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.
    Pompey Park Recreation Center
    1101 NW 2nd Street, Delray Beach, FL 33444
    Register | Directions | Flyer

  • Thursday, October 27 - Royal Palm Beach
    1:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m.
    Village of Royal Palm Beach Cultural Center
    151 Civic Center Way, Royal Palm Beach, FL 33411
    Register | Directions | Flyer

Florida Economic Briefs

National Unemployment rate rises in September
In September, the unemployment rate was 5.0 percent, up 0.1 percentage points from the previous month and down 0.1 percentage points from last year (5.1 percent). Florida’s unemployment rate for September will be released on October 21.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Retail activity continues to climb in Florida
Retail activity has increased 3.8 percent over the year. Retail activity averages taxable sales, which includes business investment, building investment, and tourism and recreation among others. Autos & accessories saw the highest over the year growth (9.0 percent), followed by building investment (6.8 percent), and consumer nondurables (5.2 percent). Together these indicators are used as a bellwether of regional economic activity.
Source: Office of Economic and Demographic Research