Volume 3 Number 24
June 12, 2006

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Here we go again. Not even two weeks have passed since the official beginning of hurricane season, and our state is already experiencing the first tropical system of 2006. As Tropical Storm Alberto moves ahead toward a landfall in North Florida, I once again am joining with Governor Bush to urge all Floridians to prepare in advance for these storms. A “culture of preparedness” is vital if our state is to overcome the devastating effects of tropical weather.

We have all seen how failure to plan in advance can lead to devastating consequences. Due to our vast experience with 8 hurricanes over the past two years, Florida has become a national leader in disaster preparation. Our residents know first hand the importance of having a plan in place and executing that plan should the need arise.

In that vein, the Department of Financial Services is in the process of implementing the newly created Florida Comprehensive Hurricane Damage Mitigation Program. This $250 million program is the first of its kind in the nation, and will allow homeowners to have their homes upgraded using matching funds from the state.

This exciting new program will help thousands of homes to better withstand the damage that hurricanes can inflict. But more important than any program is individual responsibility and responsiveness. Now is the time to make sure you and your family are properly prepared.





Floridians will begin feeling storm’s impact today

Tom Gallagher, Florida’s chief financial officer and state fire marshal, is urging residents and visitors throughout Florida to stay alert to news regarding the path of Tropical Storm Alberto and quickly complete preparations for strong winds expected later today with landfall projected tomorrow afternoon near the Taylor-Dixie County Line.

“Our experience over the past two years has highlighted the urgency of being prepared,” Gallagher said. “Take steps now to prepare and to protect your family and home.”

Gallagher said the winds could extend as much as 230 miles from the center, impacting residents along the coast as far south as Manatee County and as far west as Mexico Beach. Maximum winds are currently forecast at about 75 mph.

In the event of heavy storm damage, Gallagher will oversee the fire and rescue operations at the state’s Emergency Operations Center and will deploy staff to assist with rescue and recovery. CONTINUED









My Safe Florida Home, our new program to help Florida homeowners strengthen their homes to withstand hurricanes, is taking shape with a new website, www.mysafefloridahome.com.

During the 2006 Legislative Session, the Florida Legislature approved and the governor signed a new law that directs the Florida Department of Financial Services to administer the program to reduce hurricane damage exposure in our state.

My Safe Florida Home will offer free home inspections and matching grants up to $5,000 for specific home improvements to qualified homeowners.

This program will offer an unprecedented opportunity to help thousands of Floridians better protect themselves and their families against hurricanes. The program will be a massive undertaking but is a priority for our agency to have up and running as quickly as possible.  As required by the new law, our department must take certain preparatory steps before the program can be implemented and before homeowners can apply for inspections and grants.

If you are an interested homeowner, please take a few minutes to read through the Question & Answer section of the website, http://www.mysafefloridahome.com. Please fill out the form in the Contact Us section of the website to receive more information as it becomes available.

If you are a home inspector or mitigation provider interested in participating in this program, please fill out the form in the Contact Us section of the website.


Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher announced  the arrest of Courtney Pleasant, who was booked into the Lake County Jail on felony charges of grand theft and submitting a fraudulent workers’ compensation certificate.  

Pleasant, 27, owns and operates Legendary Insurance & Financial Services in Leesburg.  Pleasant acting as a State of Florida licensed insurance agent, only licensed to sell life and health insurance products, represented and promised to provide workers' compensation insurance products he was not licensed or authorized to provide.   He provided payroll services for his client and invoiced and collected fees for workers' compensation coverage that was non-existent.  Pleasant additionally provided a false insurance document to give the illusion that there was valid coverage.

Pleasant was initially arrested on April 14, 2006, for a scheme to defraud and 16 others counts of theft, forgery, and fraud. The subsequent publicity in the Lake County community caused other clients of Legendary Insurance & Financial Services to question the legitimacy of the services provided by Pleasant and contact the Division of Insurance Fraud to investigate.      

Pleasant was arrested on 2 felony counts and booked into the Lake County Jail on $4,000 bond.  

The Department of Financial Services, Division of Insurance Fraud, investigates fraud in all types of insurance, including health, life, auto, property and workers’ compensation.  To report information about this case or any other possible insurance fraud case, call the department’s fraud hotline at 1-800-378-0445.  A reward of up to $25,000 is offered for information leading to a conviction.




Most Americans -- approximately three quarters -- insure their homes and personal possessions against fire, theft and other damages, according to a recent National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) consumer survey. However, there's one notable exception: young singles. Only 34 percent of Americans who own a home or rent an apartment at this life stage have homeowners or renters insurance.

Homeowners insurance covers a home's physical structure and the owner's personal property. In contrast, renters insurance only protects personal property. Everyone -- homeowners and renters -- benefits from liability coverage, which provides financial protection in case others are injured while visiting their homes.

Understanding options with regard to homeowners/renters insurance is the first step in making sure you get the right type and amount of coverage to fit your individual needs. CONTINUED