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 New Department of Financial Services Fully Operational  

Januuary 7, 2003
Source: Department of Financial Services

The Florida Department of Financial Services, the new agency resulting from the merger of the departments of Insurance and Banking and Finance, is up and running today. The new agency is responsible for serving consumers who need help or information related to financial services, including banking, securities and insurance. Appointed regulators will oversee companies in these industries. In addition to assisting consumers, the department will keep track of all money coming into and going out of state government - an amount that totals more than $50 billion annually.

“Some of the most critical functions of the new agency will be monitoring the state’s investments and serving as a watchdog for state spending,” said Tom Gallagher, who will serve as agency head for the new department. Gallagher was sworn in today as Florida ’s first Chief Financial Officer and will continue to serve as the State Fire Marshal.

The new Cabinet post is the result of a constitutional amendment approved by Florida voters in 1998 consolidating the offices of the Treasurer and Comptroller. The Florida Legislature was responsible for deciding how to merge the state departments of Insurance and Banking and Finance, both formerly headed by elected Cabinet members. Legislation passed during the 2002 Session merging the two departments into the new Department of Financial Services.

The legislation placed the regulation of banking and securities and insurance under two appointed officials who will be selected by the new Financial Services Commission. The commission, which is made of the governor and Cabinet, will hold a special meeting on Jan. 9 to appoint the directors of the offices of Insurance Regulation and Financial Institutions and Securities Regulation. The director of each office is appointed and can be removed by three affirmative votes, two of which must be the governor and the CFO. Both offices will be administratively housed under the Department of Financial Services but will report directly to the Financial Services Commission.

The Office of Insurance Regulation will be responsible for regulation of all insurance companies and risk-bearing entities, including licensing, rates, policy forms, market conduct, claims, adjusters, issuance of certificates of authority, solvency, viatical settlements and premium financing.

The Office of Financial Institutions and Securities Regulation will be responsible for overseeing state-chartered banks, credit unions, financial institutions, finance companies and the securities industry.

Responsibilities that fall directly under the Chief Financial Officer include:

  • Overseeing the state’s accounting and auditing functions, including review of state contracts and safeguarding unclaimed property.
  • Monitoring the investment of state funds and managing the deferred compensation program for state employees.
  • Investigating fraud, including identity theft and insurance fraud.
  • Overseeing cemeteries and funeral homes that sell pre-need  contracts.
  • Licensing and oversight of insurance agents and agencies.
  • Ensuring businesses have workers’ compensation coverage in place for employees and helping injured workers with benefit payments and re-employment.

“The merging of these two agencies will allow us to provide comprehensive information and assistance to consumers,” Gallagher said.

Consumers who have questions or need information about a variety of financial services from banking to insurance can call the department’s toll-free consumer helpline at 1-800-342-2762. Consumers can also log onto http://www.fldfs.com, the department’s new website, for additional information.