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         FLORIDA CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER ALEX SINK'S WEEKLY NEWSLETTER

         Volume 5, Number 29, July 18, 2008
        
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This week, CFO Alex Sink's Bureau of Unclaimed Property helped more than 15,900 Floridians find their lost assets, after a national Dateline NBC special aired last Monday night.  CFO Sink and the Unclaimed Property Bureau were featured on the national program returning a Purple Heart to the widow and family of a war-wounded Vietnam veteran.  Check out the story below for more on the Dateline NBC special.

Since the program aired, more than 120,000 Floridians have visited the Unclaimed Property Bureau's Web site, www.FLTreasureHunt.org, searching for lost treasure. 

CFO Sink’s Bureau is one of the nation’s best in returning unclaimed property. Since January 2007, the Bureau has already returned more than $322 million to the rightful owners (or heirs) of 496,374 accounts.

We  encourage you to visit our Web site and search for yourself, your family and your friends.  With more than 7.8 million accounts, the chances are good we are holding the lost treasure of someone you know!


CFO ALEX SINK SPEAKS TO FLORIDIANS ABOUT FINANCIAL ISSUES ON FLORIDA PUBLIC RADIO

CFO Alex Sink commented on a variety of financial issues-- including national economic concerns and the success of the My Safe Florida Home program-- in a recent interview with Margie Menzel of Florida Public Radio. The interview was carried on public radio stations throughout the state and member stations that air the Capital Report program. Listen to the interview here.


My Family CFO Are you the chief financial officer of your family? Are you always looking out for the best deals, wise investments and smart moves for your family's financial security? As your family's fiscal watch dog, keep an eye on this column for money-smart ideas from the Chief Financial Officer of Florida, Alex Sink.

Idea: Teach children money skills early

Schools and parents share a role in helping children become financially literate.

Schools can teach about inflation, borrowing for a home or car or investing in stocks, bonds and mutual funds.

Parents have a more specific role -- the ability to teach real-life money-management skills.

Here are some helpful tips to ensure your children learn financial stability and security at an early age:

  • Manage a cash allowance. Kids learn how to make spending decisions with a fixed amount to spend per week.
  • Manage a checking account and an ATM or debit card. Start young with an account and know how to balance it.
  • Learn to save. Saving is a good reason not to spend, especially with a goal in mind. Consider matching all or part of what is put aside.
  • Discover the magic of compounding. Small amounts saved when young can grow into a much larger amount of money.
  • Discuss debt - how to get out of it or not get into it in the first place.
  • Compare prices. Start with unit prices at the grocery store and move on to bigger items.

CFO SINK RETURNS PURPLE HEART ON DATELINE NBC

CFO Alex Sink was featured on Dateline NBC this past Monday night when Tiki Barber and Tamron Hall led a team of on-air detectives as they helped find missing unclaimed property owners.

Dateline NBC assisted CFO Sink’s Bureau of Unclaimed Property track down the heir of an invaluable medal of service-- a Purple Heart-- which had been turned over to the State of Florida.

Since the story aired Monday evening, more than 120,000 citizens have logged onto the Bureau's Web site, about 10 times the normal traffic for a four-day period.

View "You Might Be Rich!" and visit www.FLTreasureHunt.org to see if we're holding missing treasure for you.


THREE OF CFO SINK'S LAWYERS HONORED IN  FLORIDA TREND'S "LEGAL ELITE"

Three of CFO Alex Sink's lawyers in the Department of Financial Services were honored in the July 2008 issue of Florida Trend’s Florida Legal Elite. Daniel Yates Sumner, Benjamin Frank Diamond and William Walker Tharpe, Jr. were chosen by their peers to be in the Florida Legal Elite.

The honorees were chosen after all in-state members of the Florida Bar were asked to name attorneys whom they hold in highest regard, best up-and-coming attorneys in Florida and three top government lawyers.

Daniel Yates Sumner, CFO Sink's General Counsel, has served in the Department of Financial Services since 1979. Sumner is a native of Jacksonville and attended the University of Florida for his bachelors’ degree as well as his Juris Doctor. In addition to being a member of the Florida Bar, Sumner is also a member of the U.S. Supreme Court Bar and argued the Barnett Bank v. Nelson case before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Ben Diamond is a native of Tampa and has served as Special Counsel to CFO Sink since February 2007. He received his bachelor's degree from Yale University and his Juris Doctor from University of Florida College of Law, where he served as Editor-in Chief of the Florida Law Review.

William Walker Tharpe, Jr., a managing attorney, has been with the Department of Financial Services since 1982. Tallahassee is Tharpe’s hometown, and he received his bachelors’ degree from the University of South Florida and his Juris Doctor from Cumberland School of Law. A member of the Florida Bar Association, Tharpe has been successfully managing teams of lawyers for more than 20 years. 

CFO Alex Sink would like to recognize these employees and thank all lawyers who commit themselves to public service for their dedication to the people of Florida.


CFO ALEX SINK ADDRESSES BAIL AGENTS IN PALM BEACH

On Monday, July 14, Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink addressed the Professional Bail Agents of the United States (PBUS) at their summer conference luncheon at the Breakers in Palm Beach. CFO Sink spoke to the general members of the PBUS about the role of the CFO, issues in the national and state bail bond industry, the state of the economy and the need for a national catastrophe fund. CFO Sink also applauded the PBUS on its National Board Agency Certification Program, and its role in furthering individual and industry education and credibility.

CFO Sink commented, "What makes our country so great is when we all get engaged – individually, through associations like PBUS, through our businesses or similar like-minded affiliations – we can solve our nations’ problems and emerge stronger than ever."

PBUS is a national association of the bail bond industry, with 14,000 agents nationwide. Two Florida bail bond associations are Bail Agents Independent League of Florida and Florida Surety Agents Association. The Department of Financial Services currently licenses and regulates 2,109 licensed bail bond agents.


CFO ALEX SINK SPEAKS AT THE GRADUATION OF THE FLORIDA CENTER FOR FINANCIAL TRAINING

CFO Sink spoke to South Florida bankers at the South Florida Center for Financial Training graduation in Coral Gables Tuesday, July 15. In her remarks, CFO Sink gave a financial services industry forecast and spoke about the current state of Florida’s economy.

CFO Sink suggested reinvention to deal with the current problems facing the financial industry. The CFO reminded bankers that while the industry is currently experiencing challenges, those challenges are a part of the industry’s history.

“Many of you in this room today know that as long-time bankers, our industry has been all about reinvention,” said CFO Sink.

Financial Executives International (FEI), who sponsors the program, has a membership that includes high ranking chief financial officers, controllers and other financial executives.


CFO ALEX SINK SPEAKS AT REP.  BRISE'S ECONOMIC EMPOWERMENT FAIR

CFO Alex Sink addressed attendees at an Economic Empowerment Fair hosted by the office of Representative Ronald Brise on Wednesday, July 16. The event was held on the Wolfson Campus of Miami Dade College and highlighted the need for more small and minority-owned businesses to do business with the State of Florida. The event was open to the public and allowed participants to consult with representatives from various state agencies and departments about departmental purchasing processes.

CFO Sink spoke about the importance of working with minority vendors to strengthen our local communities and encourage the growth of small businesses. CFO Sink added that working with minority vendors is one of the goals she is focused on at the Department of Financial Services.

“Working with minority-owned and small businesses is crucial because they are the backbone of our economy,” said CFO Sink.

CFO Sink described increased possibilities for small businesses because of access to more affordable technology and the ability to do business in a virtual world. Sink informed attendees that one of the most important things to do is to become certified as a minority business enterprise, which will allow participation in various state sponsored activities including the Mentor Protégé Partnership and the Match Maker Workshops.  For additional information, visit the Department of Management Services' Web site at www.dms.myflorida.com.


WHAT TO DO IF A HEALTH INSURANCE COMPANY DENIES YOUR CLAIM

Major illness or a stay in the hospital following an accident can be stressful. It's not a time you want to be worried about your insurance coverage. However, for some insurance consumers, this is when they are hit with a denial - notification their insurance company won't pay all or part of a claim.

To help understand your options when a claim is denied, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) suggests these steps:

Read and Understand Your Policy

Your individual health insurance policy is a legal contract with an insurance company. It is imperative to read your policy thoroughly to understand your rights and responsibilities. Your policy will also detail the medical conditions and benefits for which the insurance company will and will not pay. If any part of the policy is unclear to you, seek additional clarification from your insurance agent or company.

If you have further questions, contact your state insurance department. Link to their Web site by clicking on “NAIC States & Jurisdictions” at www.naic.org.

What to Do if a Claim is Denied During Treatment

Make a list of questions and immediately contact your insurance company. You will find contact information on the back of your insurance card.

Keep notes of all conversations you have with company representatives. Include in your notes the name of the person with whom you speak, as well as the date and time of the conversation. Ask for the person's phone extension so you can contact them directly the next time you call. Listen carefully and make note of the answers given to you by that person.

Stay calm and be positive. It will make the process go more smoothly and could result in a more beneficial outcome on your behalf.

Be Persistent

Keep in mind that a simple error might have caused your claim to be denied. The hospital or the billing staff at your doctor’s office might have entered an incorrect code when your claim was filed with the insurance carrier. Or your claim might have inadvertently been sent to the wrong insurance company. This type of error can usually be cleared up quickly with a single phone call.

If, after your initial conversation with the company, they are still refuse to pay a claim, be persistent. While most insurers pay claims presented to them in a timely manner and in accordance with the wording in their policies, a few carriers might initially delay or deny the payment of a claim. If this occurs, be sure to obtain the claim denial in writing. You might need to make several calls to the company before it pays the claim.

What to Do if an Insurance Carrier Continues to Deny Your Claim

Contact your insurance department for assistance appealing your claim. Generally, you must first submit a letter to the insurance company requesting that your claim be reconsidered, giving specific reasons why you believe your claim should be paid. When composing your letter, be as detailed as possible explaining why your procedure or medication is necessary and should be paid for under your insurance policy. Request all evidence (medical records, x-rays, lab results, etc.) available in support of your claim and send it to the insurance company with your appeal letter. Be sure to keep a copy of everything you send to the insurance company for your records. In response to your letter, your insurance company will indicate the next steps in the process, as well as the time frame for any additional follow-up or appeals. They may also request additional information from you and/or your medical providers.

More Information

Make sure you check with your the Florida Department of financial Services about laws regarding health insurance claims. Call 1-877-My-FL-CFO (1-877-693-5236) in Florida or 850-413-3130 from out of state.

For more information about health, home, life and auto insurance options, and tips for choosing the coverage that is right for you and your family, go to www.insureUonline.org.


Consumer Services Helpline 1-877-MY-FL-CFO
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