Volume 4, Number 29, July 20, 2007
As you know, Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink leads the Department of Financial Services (DFS), which has 14 division and offices. The CFO’s responsibilities are vast and numerous—from the Division of Accounting and Auditing to the Division of the State Fire Marshal—and every DFS employee shares the same goal: providing excellent service to the people of Florida.
Recently, CFO Sink and her team have adopted a new mission and vision statement, which we would like to share with you:
“To safeguard the people of Florida and the state’s assets through financial accountability, education, advocacy, fire safety and enforcement.”
“The Department of Financial Services is to be known as the most ethical, professional and pro-active state agency in Florida.”
Whether it’s through educating consumers about important financial or insurance issues, returning unclaimed property, protecting Floridians from arson and insurance fraud, or managing the long-term financial health of the state, CFO Sink and the employees of the Department of Financial Services are committed to helping Floridians make wise financial decisions.
If we can help you, please contact us at MyFloridaCFO.com or toll-free at 1-800-342-2762.
MYFLORIDACFO.COM DEBUTS AS
CFO SINK'S WEB SITE
Both MyFloridaCFO.com and www.MyFloridaCFO.com will bring up the CFO's Web site, and both addresses will be functional for as long as needed. Additionally, MyFloridaCFO.com will work with or without the “www.” in front of it, though the preferred usage will be MyFloridaCFO.com. Resave your bookmarks and favorites with the new name!
CFO SINK HOSTS COMMERCIAL PROPERTY
STATE FIRE MARSHAL SINK PRESENTS CHECK FOR SMOKE ALARM PROGRAM
Florida Chief Financial Officer and State Fire Marshal Alex Sink
presented a $500 personal check on Thursday to the Florida Fire & Emergency
Service Foundation's Smoke Alarm Give-A-Way program. She presented the check
while meeting with the Board of Directors of the Florida Fire Chiefs'
STATEMENT FROM CFO SINK ON MINOUCHE NOEL
For more information on the Minouche Noel case:
SUNSET OF FLORIDA'S NO-FAULT LAW
CFO SINK ANNOUNCES REWARD OFFERED FOR INFORMATION IN ARSON OF HOME THAT
WAS TARGET OF ANTI-ISLAM SLURS
MY SAFE FLORIDA HOME PROGRAM TO SIGN UP HOMEOWNERS FOR FREE WIND INSPECTIONS AT FAIA HURRICANE EXPOS
Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink would like Floridians to know that on Saturday, July 21, the My Safe Florida Home (MSFH) program will be signing up eligible homeowners for free wind inspections at the Florida Association of Insurance Agents' (FAIA) Hardening Your Home Against Hurricanes: A Trusted Choice Safe Living Expos. Last weekend representatives from the MSFH program signed up homeowners at expos in Tallahassee, Pensacola, Miami, Daytona, and Winter Park.
Future Hardening Your Home Against Hurricanes expos will be held in four Florida cities on July 21 from 8:00 a.m. until 12:00 noon. Homeowners can sign up for their free wind inspection at select Home Depot stores in St. Petersburg, Bradenton, Boynton Beach, and Davie. The MSFH program will be joining representatives from FAIA, FLASH, the National Weather Service and County Emergency Management at local Home Depot stores to promote the importance of mitigation and hurricane safety.
On Saturday, July 21, 2007, homeowners can sign up for their free wind inspection at select Home Depot stores in St. Petersburg, Bradenton, Boynton Beach, and Davie.
As CFO, Sink oversees the state’s MSFH program, which helps Floridians identify how they can strengthen their homes and reduces the overall potential for hurricane damage in our state. The MSFH program offers eligible homeowners a free wind inspection by trained and qualified hurricane mitigation inspectors. Homeowners who have received these inspections and meet additional criteria set by the Legislature may also have the opportunity to apply for a matching grant of up to $5,000 to make recommended improvements.
In order to be eligible for the program’s matching grant reimbursements of up to $5,000, the 2007 Legislature requires that homeowners meet the following requirements: have received a completed wind inspection after May 1, 2007; live in a single-family, site-built home with a building permit issued before March 1, 2002; have a valid homestead exemption; have an insured value of $300,000 or less; and be located in the wind-borne debris region. Additionally, while the free wind inspections will still cover seven potential wind-resistance improvements, matching grants may only be used for opening protections, including windows, exterior doors and garage doors, as well as the bracing of gable ends.
The MSFH program expanded statewide this spring after a pilot program the previous year and has performed more than 55,000 free wind inspections since April 23, 2007. More than 5,800 homeowners statewide are currently working with the MSFH program to harden their homes and will receive their matching grants upon the completion of their recommended improvements. Statewide, the program has issued nearly $1.2 million in grants to 413 homeowners who have completed the improvements recommended in their inspection reports.
MSFH will be signing up
homeowners for free wind inspections at select Home Depots for the following
E. Bradenton Home Depot #6319
Boynton Beach Home Depot
Davie Home Depot #222
CFO SINK WARNS OF BOGUS LOTTERY, CHECK SCAM
INSURANCE BROKER TO REIMBURSE $2.6 MILLION
Agreement also requires national broker to disclose commissions
Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, Attorney General Bill McCollum, and Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty announced that multiple Florida cities and counties will receive approximately $2.6 million in reimbursements from Willis Group Holdings Ltd., a national insurance broker. Under the settlement, the broker denied wrongdoing but agreed to reimburse its clients without any formal action taken by the state agencies.
A joint investigation by the Attorney General's Antitrust Division and the Department of Financial Services (DFS) led to allegations that Willis improperly collected undisclosed fees or commissions when it placed various coverages with insurance companies. Willis brokered multiple insurance contracts in Florida from 1999 through 2004, and clients included more than a dozen public entities in the State of Florida, including economic development councils, city and county governments and school boards.
“Florida’s taxpayers deserve complete disclosure when local governments are conducting financial transactions with insurance brokers,” said CFO Sink, who oversees the DFS. “I commend everyone who assisted in the investigation and in getting this money rightfully returned to the citizens of Florida.”
“Honesty and accountability are of paramount importance in the insurance industry and the Attorney General’s Office will continue working to ensure such characteristics are in place,” said Attorney General McCollum. “I am pleased the agencies involved in today’s settlement were able to achieve this success for the Florida entities due the reimbursements.”
Insurance brokers represent their clients by advising them on their insurance needs and options. The brokers also represent the clients when negotiating the price and terms of insurance coverage offered by insurance companies. Under today’s agreement, Willis also agreed to make full written disclosure of all such commissions in the future and to pay the costs of the investigation. The recovery of $2.6 million in restitution funds is the result of an industry-wide investigation into insurance broker activities.
“This settlement is another step toward ensuring
that Florida consumers are fully informed in their insurance transactions,”
said Commissioner McCarty. “The expansion of transparency in the insurance
marketplace serves to protect the interests of Florida consumers and
continues to be a regulatory priority of the Office of Insurance
Willis Public Entity List - http://www.MyFloridaCFO.com/PressOffice/pdfs/willispublicentitylist.pdf
CFO SINK ADVISES FLORIDIANS THAT TENNESSEE HAS PLACED NFOA INTO RECEIVERSHIP
Following up on a warning she issued in April, Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink is now advising Florida consumers who made annuity transactions with the unauthorized Tennessee-based National Foundation of America (NFOA) that the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance (TDCI) has appointed a special deputy to take over and resolve the company’s business affairs.
Tennessee officials have said they will “pursue all means necessary” in effort to have investments returned to the elderly consumers who invested with NFOA.
Records indicate that 41 Florida senior citizens, mostly in Central Florida and the Fort Myers area, transferred more than $6 million in assets to NFOA, and that 10 additional Florida transactions were never completed. CFO Sink issued a warning to Floridians in April that NFOA was operating without a license, following an investigation by the Department of Financial Services’ Bureau of Investigation and the filing of a cease and desist order by the Office of Insurance Regulation. Now investigators have determined that the company never had designation as a 501(c)(3), or charitable organization, under the Internal Revenue Code.
“We are looking into the actions of several Florida agents who sold these products,” said CFO Sink, “and we stand ready to assist Tennessee officials in any way we can.”
NFOA marketed itself as a charitable organization and sold a term annuity product in several states, convincing consumers to replace their existing annuities or cash value life insurance policies in exchange for significant tax benefits due to their alleged charitable organization status.
CFO Sink urges Floridians not to transact insurance or financial business with any entity not authorized to do business in Florida. To verify licensure, consumers can log on to the Department’s website at www.MyFloridaCFO.com or call the Department’s Consumer Helpline at 1-800-342-2762. Investors who have transacted annuity business with NFOA should contact TDCI’s Special Deputy Paul Eggers at (615) 277-0700, by fax at (615) 277-0710, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
HURRICANE BUSINESS SEMINAR TESTS DISASTER PREPAREDNESS
The Department of Financial Services (DFS), in conjunction with the Capital Area Chapter of the American Red Cross; Gadsden County Board of County Commissioners; Gadsden County Sheriff’s Office, Division of Emergency Management Department; and Gadsden County Chamber of Commerce held a Hurricane Biz Seminar in Quincy on Wednesday, July 18, 2007, to highlight the importance of businesses having an effective hurricane response plan.
At the event, DFS had experts on hand to answer businesses’ insurance questions as well as test the ability of businesses to coordinate disaster response and recovery activities in the event of a hurricane.
Through simulated activities, business owners and operators were tested on the effectiveness of their hurricane plans, while also stressing the importance of establishing special needs shelters, employee location and staffing, points of distribution, warehouse activities and the staffing of emergency aid stations.
For more information on the seminar please visit http://redcross.tallytown.com/biz/midway/.
Consumer eViews www.MyFloridaCFO.com/PressOffice/Newsletter/