Consumer eViews
FLORIDA CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER TOM GALLAGHER'S WEEKLY NEWSLETTER

Volume 1, Number 50, December 13, 2004     
 

Would discovering lost cash or property be a welcome surprise this holiday season?  I am inviting Floridians to find out if the state is holding cash or valuables that could rightfully belong to them.

It is easy to check to see if you or a loved one may be entitled to claim lost treasure. With the money you claim you can mark the giving season by donating to charity, helping out a special friend or just by spending a little extra for your family. 

The Department of Financial Services is responsible for property turned over to the state when owners cannot be found. A majority of cash and items held by the state come from abandoned bank accounts and safe deposit boxes in Florida banks and credit unions. In addition, cash may be available from utility deposits, insurance refunds and stock payments. Florida law requires financial institutions to remit property that is unclaimed to the state after three years.

Property that is valuable, such as jewelry, coin collections or antiques, is typically held by the state for two to three years, after which it is auctioned.  The proceeds are held indefinitely until the owner is found and able to collect. 

The state is currently holding more than five million accounts worth over $1 billion. These accounts are waiting to be claimed and no fee is ever charged to collect.

Funds turned over to the state and money collected from auctioning valuable items are deposited into the State School Trust Fund, a trust fund managed by the Department of Education benefiting Florida’s schools. Many schools have used these dollars to fund reading and mentoring initiatives as well as to buy needed supplies.

To search for unclaimed property, you should log on to www.fltreasurehunt.org or call 1-88-VALUABLE.

My best,

                      -- Tom Gallagher


DFS EMPLOYEES DONATE MORE THAN 1,000 TOYS TO BIG BEND ‘TOYS FOR TOTS’

Bicycles, games, teddy bears, dolls, and an assortment of toy trucks and cars were part of the pile of more than 1,000 toys that employees of the Department of Financial Services contributed this year to the Big Bend area Toys for Tots, a program that distributes toys to less-fortunate children throughout North Florida. 

Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher, a long-time supporter of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program, commended DFS employees for their generous spirit.  This is the third year DFS employees have participated in the program.

“There is no greater joy than knowing you helped put a smile on a child’s face,” said Gallagher, who oversees the department.  ”This is what the holidays are all about, sharing the bounty of the past year with family, friends and community.  I am honored to work with such generous people.

The toys were collected late Tuesday by the U.S. Marines of Company C, 8th Tank Battalion. 

The mission of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program is to collect new, unwrapped toys during October, November and December each year and distribute those toys as Christmas gifts to needy children.  For more information about the program, visit www.toysfortots.org.
 


FLORIDA INSURANCE OFFICIAL RECEIVES PRESTIGIOUS NATIONAL AWARD

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) has awarded its most prestigious national honor to Rich Robleto, of the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation, at its winter meetings this week in New Orleans, LA.  Robleto serves as Director of Life and Health Product Review, providing oversight to those segments of Florida’s insurance industry.   

“I am both surprised and pleased to be honored with this award, but the credit, truly, should go to my staff,” said Robleto.  “They are extremely talented and work very hard to make sure Floridians have both competitive and consumer friendly insurance choices.” 

The NAIC’s Robert Dineen Award, which Robleto received, is awarded in recognition of outstanding service as a career regulator.  In addition to the work he has done for Florida, Robleto has been at the center of the NAIC’s efforts to create the Interstate Compact: a system that would provide more efficient, uniform state-based regulation. 

Robleto joined the Office of Insurance Regulation in 1999.  Prior to coming to Florida he worked for more than 25 years in the life insurance industry.  He is a Chartered Life Underwriter, a Fellow in the Life Management Institute and a Health Insurance Associate. Robleto also has a degree from Temple University and a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Delaware.   

Florida Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty said he was thrilled Robleto received the Dineen Award.  “In large part because of Rich’s work, Florida has a vibrant and competitive life insurance industry and we have made significant strides in improving our health insurance markets,” said McCarty.  “But we are very aware of the significant challenges ahead; I know that Rich and his staff will not rest as we move forward to meet these tests.”   


HEALTHY KIDS OPEN ENROLLMENT BEGINS IN JANUARY

Since 1992, Florida’s Healthy Kids program has provided health insurance coverage to more than 500,000 children of working families.  In fact, the program has become a model for child health insurance programs across the nation. 

The amount of premium, based on household size and monthly income, is as little as $15 or $20 per month for most families. 

Families whose coverage was cancelled because of new enrollment requirements, imposed earlier this year by the Legislature, need only to send in their documents to be reinstated.  Families applying for the first time can do so during the annual open enrollment in January.

To assist families in the enrollment process, the Department of Financial Services helped launch Project Pathfinder, a door-to-door outreach program that began in October.

“Thousands of parents already have completed the re-enrollment process,” said Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher, who oversees the Department of Financial Services.  “However, we need to make sure that every eligible child has the best chance to receive health care coverage.”

This week, the Legislature may reconsider its actions during this week’s special session.  Gallagher, who helped create Healthy Kids, supports simplifying enrollment and eligibility requirements from three proofs of income to just one.  

Applications for new enrollments will be available online December 30 at http://www.healthykids.org/ or by calling 1-888-540-KIDS (5437). 



Consumer Services HelpLine
(800) 342-2762.