My Florida C F O

Dear Fellow Floridians:

As swirling conversations about rising insurance rates continue in Tallahassee, I’d like to talk with you about one reason for those rises that may not be top of mind: fraud. Fraud Prevention

The FBI estimates that the total annual cost of insurance fraud in our country tops $40 billion, and that doesn’t even include health insurance fraud. When you break that number down, it comes out to roughly $500 per family per year in increased premiums.

There are as many types of insurance fraud as there are types of insurance, and crooks seem to always find a way to cheat the system.

Our insurance fraud and arson investigators recently ran across an outrageous case that outlines just how bold some of these criminals can be and just how quickly thousands of dollars can be stolen.

Late last year, a man from Orange County reported that his car, a 2016 Toyota Camry, had been stolen in the state of New York. A terrible ordeal, but it happens and that’s what insurance is for.

Imagine the man’s surprise when just a few months later, his car is found on fire near Orlando. He’d already filed an insurance claim worth $10,000, and when the local fire department asked our arson investigators to look into the cause of the blaze, they quickly became suspicious.

As the story unfolded, the man ultimately confessed that he paid someone $300 to destroy his car and to make sure it was never seen again. Why would anyone do that? Maybe he was tired of making his payments or perhaps he wanted a different car to drive. Whatever the reason, the fact remains: By stealing from his insurance company, he’s causing all of our insurance rates to rise.

Now he faces 20 years in jail, but the reality is that this sort of thing happens frequently.

It happens when people intentionally inflict damage to their homes or when they stage automobile accidents. It happens when employers cheat their way out of paying proper premiums for workers’ compensation. It even happens when people fake injuries to get out of going to work.

Insurance is a business just like any other, and insurance companies can’t afford to absorb $40 billion in fraud without raising prices.

I think we can all agree that no one enjoys paying more for their policies, and we must all do our part to help stop this cost driver.

If you see something that looks suspicious, say something. Our investigators are doing a great job, but they can’t be everywhere all the time. If you think there’s something they should look into, give us a call. Our Fraud Tip Hotline is 1-800-378-0445, and you can remain anonymous if you wish.

We’ll keep working, and I hope you’ll keep your eyes peeled.


Jeff Atwater
Chief Financial Officer
State of Florida

Florida's Bottom Line Infographic: 2016 in Review

Learn about Florida's economy in the current edition of Florida's Bottom Line. CFO Atwater's award-winning quarterly economic magazine is focused on providing you with the latest news and insightful analysis on Florida's financial and economic 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

Feedback from seniors who attended a Be Scam Smart workshop:

“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, March 29th – Jacksonville
    10:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m
    Wallace Small Senior Center
    1083 Line Street, Jacksonville, FL 32209
    Register | Directions | Flyer
  • Wednesday, March 30th – Jacksonville
    10:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
    Frances Padgett Arlington Senior Center
    1078 Rogero Road, Jacksonville, FL 32211
    Register | Directions | Flyer

Please let us know if you would like to request a workshop in your area.

Florida Economic Briefs

Florida’s February unemployment rate to come out March 24
According to Florida’s Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO), Florida’s February unemployment rate and year-over-year job figures will be released Friday, March 24. This will be the second data release for unemployment figures in 2017, following the annual revisions in the first two months of this year.
Source: Florida’s Department of Economic Opportunity

Florida housing prices rise and sales fall slightly in February
In February, the median sales price of homes rose 12.5 percent over the year, to $225,000. Additionally, more than 18,000 homes were sold in Florida, down 0.5 percent from this time last year.
Source: Florida Realtors