Volume 2 Number 4
January 24, 2005




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.”

More than 30,000 Florida families were caught off guard when their homeowners’ insurance companies charged more than one deductible as a result of the multiple storms.  Many did not realize that their policies required them to pay hefty out-of-pocket costs before their coverage kicked in.

Gallagher this year will ask the Legislature to give consumers more choice when it comes to how much they want to pay out of pocket, and to require insurance agents to document that they fully disclosed the cost of deductibles.   

“Consumers must have all the information they need to ensure they understand the coverage they have before they ever need it,” Gallagher said.   

To assist Floridians, the department offers an online system that allows Internet users to search an expansive consumer database or track a request for assistance as it is handled by consumer specialists. 

Consumers can also browse updated FAQs and Consumer Guides.  The system, “Service Point,” is available on the department’s website at www.MyFloridaCFO.com by clicking the “Service Point” icon. 

In addition to the website, the department provides a consumer helpline, at 1-800-342-2762, from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. (EST) Monday through Friday.  Helpline specialists can assist consumers with questions about their coverage, verify the license status of their insurance agent or insurance company, file a complaint or report possible fraud. 

Gallagher offered these tips for a good checkup: 

·        Make sure you are dealing with a licensed agent who works for companies licensed to sell insurance in the state.  A business card is not proof of licensure.

·        Shop among at least three companies for the best coverage at the best price. 

·        Ask about discounts.  Some insurers offer discounts for multiple policies or longtime policyholders, or for an alarm in your home or automobile. 

·        A higher deductible may mean a lower premium, but understand the pros and cons of higher deductibles.

·        Read your insurance policy carefully.  It is a legal document.

·        Keep your policy in a safe, waterproof location and take steps to protect your financial identity.  Identity thieves have used stolen information to file fraudulent claims and collect insurance payments.

Recent studies by the NAIC show few Americans understand the details of their insurance policies to the extent they should, and some are not aware they could even be the victim of a fake insurance scam.  The Department of Financial Services and the Office of Insurance Regulation have shut down 20 unauthorized entities selling fake insurance policies in Florida and have taken administrative or criminal action against more than 200 insurance agents, operators, agents, marketers and administrators for peddling those products in Florida.   

“The key is to know your policy and know whom you are dealing with,” Gallagher said. 

Visit www.MyFloridaCFO.com and click on "Service Point" in the “For the Consumer” column. This comprehensive section will lead you to a variety of financial topics and resources, all geared to help answer your questions. Here are some examples from the site:

 Ask a Question


Ask your general insurance question here. For the best response, use short sentences and common words. Example: I need flood insurance.








Self Service

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Publications Use Adobe Acrobat to download or order FREE guides.

Calendar of Events Browse our statewide list of free seminars and educational programs. 

Consumer News

Consumer Alerts
Get the latest updates from CFO Tom Gallagher on insurance, financial services and banking advisories.

Financial News
Alerts about scams, arrests and investigations to help you make sound financial decisions

Identity Theft
Identity thieves adopt your name, Social Security number, credit card number, or some other piece of your personal information. Learn how you can help guard against identity theft.

Insurance Alerts
News alerts and information from the Office of Insurance Regulation.

Medicare News
Get answers to your questions about updates to Medicare from the offical US governnment site. Or call 1-800-633-4227 or MEDICAR

Unlicensed Insurance Entities
Verify before you Buy! Click here to report unlicensed activity and to avoid buying products that are not guaranteed in the state of Florida

Top FAQs

What is the difference between fully-regulated Florida medical coverage and medical coverage provided through an out-of-state association group or trust plan?
Medical insurance plans issued through out-of-state group plans are primarily governed by the laws of another state, so there can be significant diffe...

Can an insurance company non-renew for a sinkhole claim?
Florida law prohibits an insurance company from non-renewing any property insurance policy for filing a claim on a partial loss caused by sinkhole dam...

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If you still need answers, our Consumer Services’ specialists are available through the Consumer Helpline at 1-800-342-2762 from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. EST. 

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