Volume 2 Number 4
January 24, 2005


At the beginning of a new year, many of us resolve to lose weight, save more money and spend more time with our families.  I am asking you to resolve to also spend a little time with your insurance agent and undergo an insurance checkup. 

This week is “Get Smart About Insurance Week,” and I am urging Florida residents and business owners to make sure they have the coverage they need.  The next hurricane season is less than six months away, and Floridians need to start getting ready now. 

The Department of Financial Services has insurance consumer specialists throughout the state who can help you determine what you need to think about when considering how much coverage you need.  Your insurance agent also can be a great resource.  Just make sure you are dealing with a Florida-licensed agent who represents a Florida-authorized insurance company. 

Read all documents before you sign, and give yourself time to address any questions you may have. Knowledge is your best protection.

My best,


Our masthead for January is a view of the County Courthouse located downtown in beautiful Madison County, Florida.





“Florida’s Opportunity Scholarship program is an integral part of our effort to improve the education of Florida’s children.  As Florida’s Education Commissioner, I helped implement the law when it was passed.  I have personally witnessed parents who were excited to have a choice, and a chance, to improve their children’s education.  I support Gov. Bush as he looks to our state’s Supreme Court to uphold this law to ensure Florida’s parents have educational alternatives for their children.”  -- Tom Gallagher





past Hurricane season a strong incentive

to Get an insurance checkup

National ‘Get Smart About Insurance Week’ kicks off today

One in five Florida homes was damaged by one of last year’s back-to-back hurricanes, and the Department of Financial Services fielded more than 150,000 calls from storm victims looking for help in understanding their insurance coverage.

Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher says Floridians must take steps now to make sure they are ready for the next hurricane season that begins June 1, and he said an insurance checkup is the best protection.  Gallagher and the Department of Financial Services are participating for the fourth consecutive year in “Get Smart About Insurance Week.”  The annual public education campaign, which continues through Friday, is organized by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners and encourages an annual review of home, life, auto and property insurance coverage. 

“This is not about buying more insurance coverage if you don’t need it, this is about making sure you have all the coverage that you do need,” Gallagher said.  “Just as a physician’s checkup protects your physical health, an insurance checkup will protect your family’s financial health and give you peace of mind.” CONTINUED





Good news for Floridians is the restoration of the federal deduction
for state and local sales tax that was eliminated in 1986. As you collect your papers and update your books in preparation for your 2004 tax filing, there is a new federal law to take into account.

Thanks to a multibillion-dollar corporate tax bill, Florida's individual
taxpayers are getting a tax break that is in effect for 2004 and 2005
tax returns.

In the midst of the 633-page American Jobs Creation Bill of 2004,
approved by Congress and signed into law by the president, is the
okay for consumers to deduct sales taxes from their federal filings.
Across the nation, taxpayers must decide whether to deduct the
sales taxes paid or state income tax amounts. The choice is
easy for residents in the seven states that do not collect state
income taxes but do levy state sales taxes: Florida, Nevada,
South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington and Wyoming.




A 30-year-old man wanted in Florida since 1995 on numerous felony charges for his alleged role in his family’s nationwide “slip-and-fall” fraud scheme is in custody in California awaiting extradition.

Christopher Michael Evans, whose last-known Florida address was 5612 Hollywood Blvd. in Hollywood, was arrested January 13 in Mountainview, California, on an unrelated charge.  He is the fifth member of the family, including his mother, to be apprehended.  Two other suspects, identified as Russell Evans and Raquel Miller, remain at large.  The charges and arrests are the culmination of a lengthy investigation by Florida’s Division of Insurance Fraud.

“Everyone pays for insurance fraud through increased premiums and increased costs for goods and services,” said Florida’s Chief Financial Tom Gallagher, who oversees the Department of Financial Services and its Division of Insurance Fraud.   “This arrest shows that there is no safe haven for those who commit criminal acts against Floridians.” CONTINUED