Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and State Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis is asking for the public’s help in locating alleged scam artists still at large after a recent $42.7 million insurance fraud bust announced in Ft. Myers last week. [Read more…] about CFO Jimmy Patronis: Statewide Search for $42 Million Fraud Ring Leader
Florida Department of Financial Services
Florida Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Jimmy Patronis sent the below letter to Citizens Property Insurance Corporation President and CEO Barry Gilway today regarding the lack of a requirement for those lobbying the Corporation. The letter can also be found here.
May 2, 2018
Mr. Barry Gilway, President, CEO and Executive Director
Citizens Property Insurance Corporation
301 W. Bay Street
Jacksonville, FL 32202
Dear Mr. Gilway:
As Florida’s Chief Financial Officer and a member of the Financial Services Commission, I believe that transparency should be a key component to any organization. Currently, lobbyists are not statutorily required to disclose their efforts on behalf of clients and private interests they represent before Citizens Property Insurance Corporation. Florida’s state-backed insurer should be subject to the same rules as state agencies and organizations such as water management districts.
Transparency is one of the best ways we can ensure accountability. It should be crystal clear who is interested in influencing Citizens policy changes or securing contracts with the Corporation. The Citizens internal Code of Ethics should address lobbying activities. Considering the lack of a statutory requirement, I am requesting Citizens attend the next meeting of the Governor and Cabinet to discuss the Corporation’s plan of action and timeline to correct this shortcoming.
Citizens should examine its internal Code of Ethics and consider options such as publicly documenting entities that lobby Citizens. These options would be a proactive approach while awaiting the next legislative session to address this statutorily.
A public entity that provides insurance to more than 444,000 policyholders in Florida, and the potential financial impact that Citizens has for all Floridians’ insurance policies, should ensure all lobbying activities are conducted in the sunshine.
Chief Financial Officer
c: Christopher B. Gardner, Chairman
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation (Office), Florida Department of Financial Services, and the Florida Office of the Attorney General today announced national life claim settlement agreements have been signed with State Farm for $250,000 and Aflac for $350,000.
These settlement agreements facilitate the use of the Social Security Administration’s Death Master File to determine if the insured, annuitant, or account holder is indicated.
In its sixth year, this multi-state national effort has resulted in the successful return of more than $8.7 billion in unknown or lost policy proceeds to beneficiaries directly by the companies and over $3.25 billion delivered to the states’ unclaimed property programs, which continue efforts to locate and pay beneficiaries.
To date, state insurance regulators have either reached settlements or concluded the investigation of 30 of the top 40 companies constituting over 81% of the total market. Efforts continue to be focused on the examination of the remaining 10 insurers.
State Farm and Aflac have agreed to compare all company records against the DMF to determine whether there are unclaimed death benefits, search for those beneficiaries, and otherwise remit unclaimed proceeds to the appropriate state authority. Florida’s allocation of the collective multi-state settlement payments by the two companies is $41,759, which covers the costs of the investigations and future compliance monitoring.
For more information, visit the Office’s “Life Claim Settlement Practices” webpage. To search or submit a request for unclaimed property, visit www.FLTreasureHunt.org, or call 1-88-VALUABLE or (850) 413-3089.
About the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation
The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation has primary responsibility for regulation, compliance and enforcement of statutes related to the business of insurance and the monitoring of industry markets. For more information about the Office, please visit www.floir.com or follow us on Twitter @FLOIR_comm and Facebook.
As Floridians continue the recovery process after Hurricane Irma, Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis is partnering with Tampa Bay news station Fox 13 to host a live phone bank to assist Floridians with their insurance questions, concerns and complaints. The phone bank will take place Thursday, November 16, from 7:00–10:00am EST. During that time, Floridians can call the station at 1-800-826-4434 to speak one-on-one with an insurance specialist working for the Department. The Department will also answer questions posted to Fox 13’s Facebook account (@Fox13TampaBay).
CFO Patronis said, “Our Department boasts some of Florida’s foremost insurance experts, and we’re taking every available opportunity to help Floridians as they move through the insurance claims process. If any consumer is running into a roadblock, I encourage them to give us a call to see how we can help.”
The Department of Financial Services also operates Florida’s only toll-free Insurance Consumer Helpline, which is available year-round. During the third quarter of 2017, insurance specialists working the Helpline recovered more than $9.3 million for Floridians. Returns consist of underpaid or previously denied insurance claims, as well as overpaid premium amounts that were refunded due to intervention by the Department on the consumer’s behalf.
Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis today announced that Anna Alexopoulos Farrar will join the Department of Financial Services (DFS) as Communications Director. In this capacity, she will oversee the communications strategy for the department.
CFO Patronis said, “Anna is a seasoned communications professional whose experience in both the government and private sectors brings a fresh perspective to the role. This experience and her knowledge of the department will help us advance our efforts to connect with Floridians on top issues that impact those living in our great state.”
Alexopoulos Farrar has more than 10 years of experience in public and private communications. She joins the department after nearly three years at a top Florida public relations firm, On 3 Public Relations (On3PR), serving most recently as vice president of accounts where she led communication strategy and message development for major companies and organizations. She previously served as press secretary for DFS under former CFO Jeff Atwater, and managed media relations for a national disaster safety nonprofit.
Her first day on the job is Monday, Nov. 20. Alexopoulos Farrar succeeds Ashley Carr who recently announced her resignation to accept a position with the Florida Healthy Kids Corporation.
During Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting, veterans working for the Department of Financial Services were honored for their service and the sacrifices they have made for Florida and our nation. Governor Scott presented each of the Department’s veterans with the Governor’s Veterans Service Medal. Prior to the Cabinet meeting, CFO Patronis hosted a breakfast reception for the veterans and their families.
CFO Patronis said, “Florida’s veterans made a choice to selflessly serve, and in doing so, they willingly made countless personal sacrifices. As Americans, we owe these dedicated heroes our gratitude, and I am proud to honor those who continue to serve their fellow Floridians by now working in our Department. It was a privilege to spend time with them this morning, and I offer my unending thanks to them and all of Florida’s veterans.”
The Department of Financial Services has taken several steps to assist Florida’s service members and veterans as they transition into civilian careers, including a program called “Operation Dispatch,” which grants comparative skills-based training credit to military firefighters who wish to join Florida’s firefighting community. The Department has also refunded insurance licensing fees for veterans and their spouses and created a series of financial literacy programs aimed at helping military families navigate through unique financial challenges.
An estimated 1.5 million veterans live in Florida, many of whom now work within state and local governments. The Department of Veterans’ Affairs estimates that veterans make up nearly 12 percent of Florida’s population, the third highest population in the nation behind California and Texas.
To learn more about the Department of Financial Services, visit www.myfloridacfo.com.
Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis and the Department of Financial Services (DFS) today announced the recent arrest of Carlos Contreras, owner of DJC Builders & Construction. Contreras allegedly obtained a fraudulent workers’ compensation policy by underreporting the number of staff he employed, the company’s annual payroll amount and the company’s scope of work. By providing false information on the application, Contreras illegally avoided paying more than $1,000,000 in premium payments for an adequate policy.
CFO Patronis said, “When companies lie to obtain cheaper, inadequate workers’ compensation policies, staff or property owners are left vulnerable to covering sky-high medical costs if a worker gets injured on the job, and free markets are disrupted by scammers who can underbid their legitimate competitors. It’s a lose-lose situation for Florida, and I won’t stand for it.”
Contreras claimed his company’s annual payroll was $273,786, and thus was quoted an annual workers’ compensation policy premium of $25,311. However, between January and August 2017, DFS investigators determined that Contreras cashed at least 620 payroll checks for DJC Builders & Construction. In total, nearly $6,500,000 in payroll was cashed using various money service businesses located across the state. If Contreras had accurately reported the company’s total payroll, number of employees and correct work description, the company’s proper workers’ compensation premium would have been $1,217,161.
As a result of the scam, Contreras’ insurance company was defrauded of more than $1,000,000.
Contreras was arrested on October 19 and transported to the Duval County jail. He has been charged with one count of knowingly concealing payroll and one count of scheme to defraud.
The case will be prosecuted by the Duval County State Attorney’s Office and if convicted, Contreras could face up to 60 years in prison.
Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis today announced that the Department of Financial Services (DFS) will host a community insurance forum in Miami on Saturday, November 4 in partnership with Representative Kionne L. McGhee. DFS insurance specialists will join teams from the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation and Citizens Property Insurance Corporation to assist Miami area residents with insurance concerns and complaints.
At the event, consumers can speak one-on-one with insurance specialists to gain assistance with the filing of Hurricane Irma insurance claims, help with pending claims, or general insurance advise. Consumers can also file a complaint regarding an existing claim and report suspected insurance fraud.
WHAT: Community Insurance Forum
WHERE: The Bethel Church – Richmond Heights
14440 Lincoln Boulevard
Miami, Fla. 33176
WHEN: Saturday, November 4
10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. EST
All area residents are welcome to attend this free event. Participants are encouraged to bring copies of their insurance policies.
Floridians can gain year-round insurance assistance by calling Florida’s free Insurance Consumer Helpline at 1-877-MY-FL-CFO. Information is also available online at www.myfloridacfo.com.
Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis today announced that the Department of Financial Services’ long-time Legislative Affairs Director Elizabeth Boyd has been promoted to Deputy Chief Financial Officer. In this new role, Elizabeth will oversee the Department’s legislative affairs, research and planning, cabinet and communications offices, as well as the Division of Consumer Services and Division of Unclaimed Property.
CFO Patronis said, “For six years, Elizabeth has advanced the Department’s legislative priorities and secured great success on initiatives important to enhancing the lives of all Floridians. Her expansive knowledge on insurance, finance and regulatory matters, as well as a broad understanding of the legislative process, makes her well-suited to lead our Department in this capacity.”
Elizabeth joined the Department of Financial Services in September 2011 as Deputy Legislative Affairs Director. As deputy director, she aided in the development of the Department’s legislative agenda and advocated for the Department’s initiatives in front of the Florida Legislature and other stakeholders. In this capacity, she assisted in the successful passing of legislation that included the creation of a homeowner claims bill of rights and the implementation of sweeping transparency reforms to Florida’s state contracting laws.
Elizabeth’s legislative accomplishments led to her promotion to Legislative Affairs Director in December 2014, where she’s since served as the Chief Financial Officer’s principal legislative advisor and lead lobbyist. As director, Elizabeth has been instrumental in securing several legislative victories, including a ban on a medical billing practice known as “balance billing” in which health care providers bill patients for out-of-pockets costs not covered by health insurance and securing the end of a pervasive insurance business practice that derailed the proper payment of life insurance policies to beneficiaries.
Prior to joining the Department, Elizabeth held legislative roles with the Department of Management Services, within the Executive Office of Governor Jeb Bush, and for the Florida Lottery. She earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from Florida State University.
The Department’s current Deputy Legislative Affairs Director, BG Murphy, has been promoted to Legislative Affairs Director. Murphy joined the Department in February 2015, following his service as legislative assistant to Representative Halsey Beshears. In 2014, Murphy led the successful campaign of Representative Brad Drake. Murphy has also worked in management and corporate relations in the private sector. He earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Florida State University.
Both promotions became effective Monday, October 16. To learn more about the Department of Financial Services, visit www.myfloridacfo.com.