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My Florida C F O
Weekly eNewsletter from Florida's Chief Financial Officer

Dear Fellow Floridian:

This week is National Save for Retirement Week, an appropriate time for us to recognize the importance of saving for retirement. I encourage everyone to use this week as an opportunity to evaluate your retirement plans and set goals for the future. If you are already retired, I hope you will share your experiences with your friends and family and help them understand there’s no better time than now to have a retirement plan that meets their future needs.

The sooner you start saving, the greater you will benefit in the long term. Simple steps such as depositing savings in accounts that accrue compounded interest, controlling yearly spending by eating in and paying off debt and increasing contributions to retirement accounts will amount to greater financial security when you choose to retire and enjoy more time with loved ones.

Our daily responsibilities at work and at home often demand most of our attention, but every day you delay planning for the future can significantly cut into your total retirement savings. To get the most out of your retirement savings, you should figure out where you want to be and how you're going to get there. Since people are living longer than ever, retirement savings need to last longer and work harder.Your Money Matters

It's more important than ever to make smart financial decisions. For more information on how to make the most out of your money, now and in the future, visit our Your Money Matters website by clicking here.

Jeff Atwater
Jeff Atwater
Chief Financial Officer
State of Florida

News of Interest

ABC News: Florida authorities battle lucrative crime rings: insurance fraud scams

Sun-Sentinel: State cracking down on insurance fraud

Jacksonville Business Journal: Florida businesses to get breather on workers' comp rates

Miami Herald: Broward beats other metros in unemployment drop

Tampa Bay Times: Florida home sales continue upward trend

Associated Press: Citrus, vegetables had a good 2012 in Florida

New York Life Settlement Agreement

A $15 million life claim settlement agreement has been reached with New York Life Insurance Company (New York Life) and its affiliates. The New York Life settlement represents the ninth life claim settlement agreement for Florida. Presently, the state insurance regulators have either reached settlements or concluded the investigation of half of the top 20 companies constituting over 50 percent of the total market. Nationally, the priority is focused on the remaining examinations of the 30 top life and annuity insurers in this market.

One major focus of these settlements is the insurers’ asymmetrical use of the U.S. Social Security Death Master File (DMF) and the insurers’ practice of using it to stop paying annuities, but not to search for beneficiaries of a life insurance policy to determine if benefits are due. As part of the settlement agreements, insurers are now required to use the DMF in locating beneficiaries and must promptly remit payment to the unclaimed property division of each state for beneficiaries that cannot be located. New York Life has demonstrated that it has been using the DMF symmetrically with quarterly DMF runs since regulators commenced examinations in 2011.

The multistate examination process is guided and coordinated by the Life/Annuities Claim Settlement Practices Task Force, established by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) in 2011. The New York Life examination was led by California, along with Florida, Illinois, North Dakota, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania. The agreement is between the Florida Department of Financial Services, overseen by Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, the Florida Office of the Attorney General, overseen by Attorney General Pam Bondi, and the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation and the other lead states.

“Insurance companies must fulfill their financial obligations, and this settlement is another victory that will help make sure they do,” said CFO Jeff Atwater. “I am proud that our efforts are helping Floridians fight against deceitful business dealings.”

Florida Economic Briefs

Unemployment Rate

Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 148,000 in September, and the unemployment rate changed little at 7.2 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on Tuesday. Employment increased in construction, wholesale trade, and transportation and warehousing. The unemployment rate has declined by 0.4 percentage points since June. The number of unemployed persons, at 11.3 million, has decreased by 522,000 since June.

Home Sales

In September, two important housing indicators – closed sales and median price –Florida's Bottom Line website  improved for single-family homes and condo/townhomes. More than 18,000 single-family homes sold statewide last month, 18 percent more than September 2012, Realtors data show. Additionally, the median home price rose to $170,000, 17 percent higher than last year.

Florida's Bottom Line website complements the quarterly edition of the Florida's Bottom Line newsletter. When new economic data is released, it can be found here. Florida's consumer confidence, retail index, employment statistics and various other resources will keep you up-to-date financially.