Consumer eViews
FLORIDA CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER ALEX SINK'S WEEKLY NEWSLETTER

Volume 4, Number 21, May 25, 2007

Dear Floridian:

Once again, hurricane season is upon us and the experts predict an active season. Though we can't control the weather, we can help control the impact it can have on our lives.

Now is the time to prepare our homes, stock up on supplies, and make plans with our families for the possibility of a stormy season.
Planning ahead greatly increases the ability to withstand and recover physically from the effects of a hurricane. Being prepared financially is an important part of being ready for a hurricane.

We have a Hurricane Toolkit to guide you through the steps of financial preparedness. It can be downloaded from our website or you can call 1-800-342-2762 to have one sent to you.

So you can better understand your insurance coverage, our consumer Checklist will help you review the pertinent details of your policy.

Visit www.MySafeFloridaHome.com to learn about Florida's program for strengthening your home against the devastation of future storms.

Our top priority is your family's safety, and we offer these special tools to help you prepare for the hurricane season.

Sincerely,

--Alex Sink


CFO SINK: NEW URBAN SEARCH AND RESCUE TRAINING FACILITY WILL MAKE FLORIDA BETTER PREPARED FOR DISASTER
Emergency Management Director Fugate Joins in Dedication Ceremony

Florida Chief Financial Officer and State Fire Marshal Alex Sink said a new Urban Search and Rescue (US&R) training facility, one of the first of its kind in the nation to simulate a post-blast environment with smoke and heat, represents the state’s continuing commitment to be better prepared for potential disasters.

“After the attacks on Sept. 11, we learned that if we were to be prepared for the unimaginable, that we had to do even more,” said CFO Sink during a dedication ceremony on May 25. “This facility represents that commitment to do more to be prepared.”

Located on the campus of the Florida State Fire College in Ocala, the facility provides various training scenarios including collapsed floors and ceilings, crushed vehicles, concrete, wire, and other hazards to train responders how to search through rubble for victims. The facility, built with federal homeland security and state domestic security funds, cost $1.2 million. Florida’s Emergency Management Director Craig Fugate also attended and spoke at today’s ceremony.

“In Florida, we have learned the value of training and preparing for all hazards," said Director Fugate. "This vital facility will help prepare our first responders so they can better meet the needs of our 18 million residents."

The State Fire Marshal’s Office, Bureau of Fire Standards and Training, also has a mobile training unit with multiple entry points designed to represent street manholes and hatch entries for railroad tank cars, trucks, ships, non-pressurized above- or below-ground tanks, and more. The mobile unit, which cost $250,000, also offers more than two dozen internal arrangements to simulate different scenarios, and thermal imaging allows trainers to view the student’s progress in darkness or smoke.

To date, more than $45 million in Homeland Security funds have been funneled through the State Fire Marshal’s Office to provide more than 182,000 hours of disaster training and provide equipment for fire departments and emergency responders throughout the state, including nine Urban Search & Rescue Task Forces in Florida (seven state task forces and two FEMA task forces) and 53 Light Technical Rescue Teams. The task forces have been used to respond to hurricanes and tornadoes both in Florida and in neighboring states.

for more information on the new training facility and the Florida State Fire College, visit www.MyFloridaCFO.com and click on State Fire Marshal’s Office, Bureau of Fire Standards and Training.


CITIZENS TASK FORCE ON CLAIMS HANDLING AND RESOLUTION MEETS IN JACKSONVILLE

The Task Force on Citizens Property Insurance Claims Handling and Resolution that was created by House Bill 1A during the 2007 special session of the Florida Legislature held its first meeting in Jacksonville, Florida, on Monday, May 21, 2007.

The task force members elected Bob Milligan, Florida’s Insurance Consumer Advocate, as Chairman and Senator Mike Fasano of District 11 was appointed Vice Chairman.

At this first meeting, the task force members heard testimony from Citizens Property Insurance Corporation regarding the Legislature’s original intent and purpose for Citizens and how that mission has changed since 2004.

Today, Citizens is the largest insurer in the state of Florida and has over 1.3 million policyholders. As a result, Citizens must develop a business plan and establish an infrastructure which is responsive to its policyholders.

In addition, Citizens provided the task force members with an overview of its Claims Operations. The task force members toured Citizens’ CAT Claims Center and one of its six mobile emergency response vehicles.

As directed by the Legislature, the task force will develop recommendations for Citizens to complete claims remaining from the 2004 and 2005 hurricane seasons. This committee report is due to the Governor, Chief Financial Officer, President of the Senate and Speaker of the House by July 1, 2007.


SEARCH FOR UNCLAIMED PROPERTY!

Did you know that the State of Florida holds more than $1 BILLION in unclaimed property accounts? What type of property is held?

  • Dormant accounts from banks, credit unions, insurance and utility companies

  • Coins & Currency

  • Watches

  • Securities and trust holdings

  • Jewelry

  • Historical items

  • Stamps

  • Memorabilia

  • Other miscellaneous items

Unclaimed money is deposited into the state school fund, where it is used to help public education. But no matter how long it has been, Floridians have the right to claim their property at any time at no cost.

“The chances are good we are holding your cash or the cash of someone you know,” said CFO Sink. “We do our best to find and notify owners, but encourage Floridians to regularly check our website, www.fltreasurehunt.org, for their names.”

Is the Bureau of Unclaimed Property holding property that belongs to you?

Click on this link - Search for Unclaimed Property - to find out!


DFS ANNOUNCES HURRICANE BIZ SEMINAR, AIMED AT PREPARING FLORIDIANS FOR 2007 HURRICANE SEASON

The Department of Financial Services (DFS) in conjunction with The American Red Cross, the Gulf County Chamber of Commerce, and the Gulf County Emergency Management, announce they will hold a Hurricane Biz Seminar in Port St. Joe on Thursday, May 24, 2007.  The intent of the seminar is to highlight the importance of having an effective hurricane plan by testing the ability of businesses to initiate disaster response and recovery activities, in the event a hurricane hits their county. 

At the event DFS will have subject matter experts on hand to answer residents’ hurricane insurance question as well as provide information on how Floridians can best prepare themselves, their families and their businesses for the 2007 hurricane season. 

The simulation will test the effectiveness of businesses hurricane plans, while also stressing the importance of establishing: special needs shelters, employee location and staffing, points of distribution, warehouse activates, and staffing emergency aid stations. 

The Hurricane Biz Seminar will be held:
Date:                Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Time:                9:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. Eastern
Location:          1000 Cecil G. Costin Sr. Blvd  
                        Emergency Management Facility
                        Port St. Joe, FL.


Consumer Services Helpline (800) 342-2762
Consumer eViews  www.MyFloridaCFO.com/PressOffice/Newsletter/