FLORIDA CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER ALEX SINK'S WEEKLY
Volume 5, Number 5, February 1, 2008
Today marks the beginning of Black
History Month, an opportunity for us to remember the history of
African-Americans and the many rich contributions those with African
heritage have made to our nation. It is also a time for us to
celebrate black role models throughout our country’s history.
Gov. Charlie Crist has created a Web site to celebrate Florida’s
Black History Month at
http://www.floridablackhistory.com/. This month’s theme is
“Pioneering the Future,” and you can learn more about brave men and
women who faced injustice and discrimination and fought for a better
future right here in Florida. On the Web site you can also learn
about an essay contest for Florida’s students, Florida’s leaders who
broke barriers, and suggested reading for all ages wishing to
celebrate Black History Month.
This month, let us reflect upon those who have helped to level
inequalities in our society, and let us also build upon the
foundation they have created all year long.
FLORIDA BAR BOARD OF GOVERNORS MEETING
Today, CFO Alex Sink spoke in Tallahassee at the meeting of the
Board of Governors of the Florida Bar. Highlighting the growing
number of Floridians falling prey to foreclosure schemes, CFO Sink
called upon the board to provide legal assistance to homeowners who
are being evicted from their homes.
CFO SINK HELPS OPEN THE TALLAHASSEE
In the company of
area dignitaries, CFO Alex Sink welcomed the Tallahassee Automobile
Museum to its new 95,000 square-foot home. One of the finest car
collections in the world, the museum holds more than 128 show cars -
including three Batmobiles, the hearse that carried President
Lincoln, and a 1931 Duesenberg Model J appraised at more than $1.2
Located at 6800 Mahan Drive, the museum,
expecting to attract more than 20,000 visitors annually, offers
banquet and meeting facilities for groups in the Tallahassee area.
The museum houses the largest solar panel
system in the state with green items from the carpet and flooring to
the electrical fixtures.
CFO SINK ENCOURAGES FLORIDIANS TO BE MORE
ENGAGED IN LOCAL DECISIONS ABOUT THEIR TAX DOLLARS
Announces new Web site to educate Floridians about
local government finances
In an effort to educate Floridians about their own local government
income and spending, Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink today
announced the launch of “Your Local Government Dollars and Cents,”
found on her Web site,
www.MyFloridaCFO.com. “Your Local Government Dollars and Cents”
is a new tool that provides Floridians easy access to their local
government’s revenues and expenditures.
With greater information about the finances of Florida’s local
governments and Tuesday’s passage of the property tax amendment, CFO
Sink is encouraging Floridians to work with their local governments
in determining local priorities and ways to streamline services.
“I’m launching ‘Your Local Government Dollars and Cents’ to help
Floridians get educated and more engaged in local government
spending,” said CFO Sink, who oversees the Department of Financial
Services (DFS). “I encourage every Floridian to use this tool and
get more involved in how their local tax dollars are spent. With
governments actively cutting their budgets, it is essential that
Floridians make it clear what their priorities are for their
Local Government Dollars and Cents,” Floridians can search by
city, county or special district for a variety of revenue
information, including: ad valorem taxes, grants, fees, fines and
more. They can also look up their local government’s expenditure
information, including amounts spent on schools, transportation,
public safety, general government and more. Floridians can create
reports comparing governments, revenues and expenditures, and
electronic data is available by year from 1993 through 2007.
Floridians may also be interested in revenue and expenditures data
for local school districts, which can be found at Florida’s
Department of Education.
Since 1973, Section 218.32, Florida Statutes has required DFS to
collect this financial information from local governments. CFO Sink
launched the site to make the information more easily available to
the public and help educate Floridians local government spending.
CFO SINK ANNOUNCES FIRST MEETING OF MSFH
ADVISORY COUNCIL MONDAY
Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink today
announced the first meeting of the legislatively created My Safe
Florida Home (MSFH) Advisory Council to be held on Monday, February
4, 2008, in Tallahassee at the Capitol, in the Senate Office
Building, Room 401. CFO Sink will address the council at 8:30 a.m.
prior to the commencement of Monday’s meeting.
The Council, authorized by Section 215.5586,
Florida Statutes, was created to provide advice and
assistance to the Department of Financial Services (DFS) regarding
the administration of the MSFH program. CFO Sink will use the
council’s findings to further improve the services provided to
Floridians through the program.
Date: Monday, February 4, 2008
Time: 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Location: The Capitol Building
Room 401 of the Senate Office Building
The following twelve individuals have been appointed by CFO Sink to
the MSFH Advisory Council:
- Miriam Lopez,
Trans Atlantic Bank, Florida Bankers Association appointee
State Farm Insurance Company, Florida Insurance Council
- Robert “Bob” Farr,
Can Do Service Corp., Florida Home Builders Association
- Kurtis “Kurt” Gurley,
Civil and Coastal Engineering at the University of Florida,
State University Faculty member appointee
- Rep. Alan D. Hays,
Florida House of Representatives, House Speaker Marco Rubio
- Rep. Carlos Lopez-Cantera,
Florida House of Representatives, House Speaker Marco Rubio
- Sen. Michael S. Bennett,
Florida Senate, Senate President Ken Pruitt Appointee
- Sen. Paula Dockery,
Florida Senate, Senate President Ken Pruitt Appointee
- Leslie Chapman-Henderson,
Federal Alliance for Safe Homes, Chief Executive Officer of the
Federal Alliance for Safe Homes appointee
- Jack Nicholson,
Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund, Senior Officer of the
Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund appointee
- Scott Wallace,
Citizens Property Insurance Corporation, Executive Director of
Citizens Property Insurance Corporation appointee
- William “Craig” Fugate,
Division of Emergency Management with the Department of
Community Affairs, Director of the Division of Emergency
The MSFH program resumed offering wind inspections
and expanded statewide in April 2007 after conducting a pilot
program during the previous year. To date, the MSFH program has
received applications from approximately 166,000 homeowners for free
wind inspections and has conducted over 160,000 inspections.
Approximately 17,683 homeowners have been approved to receive
matching grants and are working with the MSFH program to harden
their homes. Statewide, the program has issued a grand total of
more than 3,196 grants to homeowners for more than $10 million.
For more information on the MSFH program or the council visit
or call the program’s toll-free number at 1-866-513-6734. On the Web
site, Floridians can link to information on the council, its agenda
and upcoming meetings.
SINK, McCOLLUM AND McCARTY ANNOUNCE
$12.5 MILLION AIG INSURANCE SETTLEMENT
Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, Attorney General Bill
McCollum and Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty today announced that
Florida has reached a settlement with a large insurance carrier involved in
a “pay-to-play” tactic used by Marsh & McLennan and other insurance brokers.
American International Group Inc. (AIG) will pay $12.5 million to Florida
and eight other states as well as the District of Columbia to resolve
allegations that some of its insurance subsidiaries engaged in bid-rigging
and price-fixing in the commercial insurance market. These actions
purportedly caused Florida public entities and private organizations to pay
“It’s wrong that governments and businesses paid inflated
insurance rates because they were led to believe there was competition when
there wasn’t,” said CFO Sink, who oversees the Department of Financial
Services which served a lead role in the multi-state investigation along
with the Attorney General’s Office and the Office of Insurance Regulation.
“I applaud today’s settlement, because policyholders deserve to know exactly
what they are paying for and that they are paying a fair price for it.”
“We will continue to hold insurance companies accountable for the manner in
which they treat their customers,” said Attorney General McCollum. “I am
pleased that we have been able to reach resolution for the affected
policyholders in this set of circumstances, and I look forward to continuing
this accountability for our state in the insurance industry.”
AIG and several of its insurance subsidiaries allegedly conspired with Marsh
and other brokers by submitting fake bids to create the illusion of a
competitive bidding process in the excess casualty commercial insurance
market. Investigators determined that despite the appearance of a fair
bidding process, the broker had already decided which insurer would receive
a particular policyholder’s business. As part of the scheme, AIG paid the
brokers “contingent commissions” which were not disclosed to policyholders
and in return received other lucrative business.
The Florida Attorney General’s Office, Department of Financial Services and
Office of Insurance Regulation will receive approximately $3 million of the
settlement which will fund a reimbursement pool for affected policyholders.
The settlement funds will also repay the state agencies’ investigative
"Full disclosure in all insurance transactions is a must, and Florida
consumers deserve nothing less," said Florida Insurance Commissioner Kevin
McCarty. "My office is committed to protecting Floridians, and this
settlement further demonstrates the progress Florida is making toward
establishing a national standard for transparency in insurance
AIG has agreed to a consent decree and final judgment pending approval in
Leon County Circuit Court which will provide comprehensive injunctive
relief, including enhanced disclosure to consumers of the compensation AIG
pays to insurance brokers. AIG will also be required to abide by those
reforms and to fully disclose the nature and range of payments made to
insurance brokers on specific lines of coverage in the prior year. Prior to
the settlement, AIG provided reimbursement to a nationwide group of
policyholders and adopted significant business reforms that govern its
bidding and underwriting practices.
This settlement marks the fourth agreement Florida has reached with
insurance carriers that were involved with Marsh’s “pay-to-play” tactics.
AIG has cooperated with the multi-state task force and will provide
assistance to the states as they continue their investigation of insurance
brokers and other insurers.
In addition to Florida and the District of Columbia, the following states
participated in the investigation and settlement: Hawaii, Maryland,
Massachusetts, Michigan, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas and West Virginia.
A copy of the complaint is available online at:
A copy of the consent decree and final judgment is available online at:
CITIZENS TASK FORCE MET FEBRUARY 1
The Task Force on
Citizens Property Insurance Claims Handling and Resolution held a public
meeting on Friday, February 1, 2008, in Jacksonville, Florida. The
agenda and presentation materials are posted on the Web at
next Task Force meeting is tentatively scheduled for Tuesday,
February 26, 2008, in Tallahassee. The February 1 meeting will be video-recorded and posted on the website.
STATEMENT BY CFO SINK ON
THE GOVERNOR’S RECOMMENDED BUDGET FOR 2008-2009 FISCAL YEAR
Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink
issued the following statement in response to Gov. Charlie Crist’s budget
recommendations for the 2008-2009 Fiscal Year:
“I applaud the Governor for his dedication to
recommending a budget for the upcoming Fiscal Year that includes increased
funding for essential services, such as education, health care and public
safety. As the Chair of the Healthy Kids Corporation, I am particularly
encouraged that the Governor recommended a $60.6 million increase for
Florida’s KidCare program that will allow more than 46,000 children access
to affordable health care. I am also pleased to see his continued
commitment to environmental programs and an invigorated effort to advance a
clean energy economy.”
“While I understand the current challenge to
find resources in this year’s budget, I am concerned about the
recommendation to sweep $129.5 million from the Workers’ Compensation
Administration Trust Fund. Through efficient management and reform of the
Workers’ Compensation system, our state has been able to reduce Workers’
Compensation Administrative Trust Fund assessments from 2.75 percent to 0.25
percent, which is a 91 percent reduction over an eight-year
period. A trust fund sweep of this magnitude will require the state to
raise Workers’ Compensation assessments—taxes—on Florida businesses as early
as January 2009. I look forward to working
with the Governor and the Legislature to prevent assessment increases
on Florida’s business owners, many of whom are struggling to balance their
REPRESENTATIVES FROM CFO SINK’S OFFICE TO HELP KICK-OFF
REALSENSE PROSPERITY CAMPAIGN
In an ongoing effort to increase financial literacy and help Floridians make
better financial decisions, Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink’s
office has partnered with the Realsense Prosperity Campaign to promote
awareness about free tax preparation services available for low-to-moderate
The kickoff event seeks to encourage residents to take advantage of free tax
preparation services provided by IRS-certified volunteers. Volunteers and
representatives at over 20 sites throughout Northeast Florida will work to
ensure low to moderate income families who qualify for the Earned Income
Credit (EITC) file. Additionally, the campaign will promote free financial
literacy classes to help individuals and families set healthy financial
goals and keep more of their money in their pockets.
MAKING THE CLAIMS PROCESS EASIER
What Consumers Should Know When Faced with A Loss
Important, but sometimes difficult, filing a claim can be one of the most
frustrating processes during a crisis or following a major disaster. Delays
in the claims process was the No. 1 complaint of insurance consumers in
2007, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC).
It is critical that at these times, you are prepared with the information
your insurance company needs. To help you avoid problems getting your claims
paid, the NAIC offers these tips:
Know Your Policy
Understand what your policy says. The policy is a contract between you and
your insurance company. Know what’s covered, what’s excluded and what the
File Claims as Soon as Possible
Don’t let the bills or receipts pile up. Call your agent or your company’s
claims hotline as soon as possible. Your policy might require that you make
the notification within a certain time frame.
Provide Complete, Correct Information
Be certain to give your insurance company all the information they need.
Incorrect or incomplete information will only cause a delay in processing
Keep Copies of all Correspondence
Whenever you communicate with your insurance company, be sure to keep copies
and records of all correspondence. Write down information about your
telephone and in-person contacts, including the date, name and title of the
person you spoke with and what was said. Also, keep a record of your time
If there is a disagreement about the claim settlement, ask the company for
the specific language in the policy that is in the question. Find out if the
disagreement is because you and the insurance company interpret your policy
differently. If this disagreement results in a claim denial, make sure you
obtain a written letter explaining the reason for the denial and the
specific policy language under which the claim is being denied.
Don’t Rush into a Settlement
If the first offer made by an insurance company does not meet your
expectations, be prepared to negotiate to get a fair settlement. If you have
any questions regarding the fairness of your settlement, seek professional
Auto and Homeowners Claims
Auto and homeowners policies might require you to make temporary repairs to
protect your property from further damage. Your policy should cover the cost
of these temporary repairs, so keep all receipts. Also, maintain any damaged
personal property for the adjuster to inspect. If possible, take photographs
or video of the damage before making temporary repairs.
Other Tips for Filing Auto or Homeowners Claims:
Don’t make permanent repairs. An insurance company may deny a claim if you
make permanent repairs before the damage is inspected.
If possible, determine what it will cost to repair your property before you
meet with the claims adjuster.
Provide the claims adjuster with records of any improvements you made to
sk the claims adjuster for an itemized explanation of the claim settlement
Accident and Health Claims
Ask your physician to provide your insurance company with details about your
treatment, medical conditions and prognosis.
If you suspect a provider is overcharging, ask the insurance company to
audit the bill and verify whether the provider used the proper billing
Contact the Florida Department of Financial Services
If you have a dispute with your insurer about the amount or terms of the
claim settlement, you should contact the Florida Department of Financial
Services for assistance. Go to
www.MyFloridaCFO.com or call 1-877-My-FL-CFO toll-free in Florida.
For more information about auto, home and health insurance options, and tips
for choosing the coverage that is right for you and your family, go to
Consumer Services Helpline