Business briefs: Floridians to get break on insurance bills

June 18, 2014 

Floridians to get break on insurance

TALLAHASSEE -- Floridians are going to get a slight break on their insurance bills next year.

The state is ending a charge on insurance bills that has been used to pay off claims related to Hurricane Wilma. Wilma struck South Florida at the end of the 2005 hurricane season.

Gov. Rick Scott and Cabinet members who oversee the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund voted Tuesday to end the 1.3 percent emergency assessment. The charge shows up on most insurance bills including homeowners and auto insurance policies.

Jack Nicholson, chief operating officer for the fund, called the move "good news" for consumers.

Florida is ending the emergency assessment, which some critics call a "hurricane tax," earlier than expected. It will no longer appear on policies renewed or issued on or after Jan. 1, 2015.

Fit-friendly businesses recognized for good work

MANATEE -- The American Heart Association gave a nod to fit-friendly companies in Manatee and Sarasota counties.

The businesses were recognized for taking steps to decrease healthcare expenses and increase productivity.

Designed to be a catalyst for positive change, the American Heart Association's Fit-Friendly Companies Program recognizes employers who champion employee health by creating wellness in the workplace. The fit-friendly companies are:

Doctors Hospital; Emma E. Booker Elementary School; FCCI Insurance Group; Gateway Bank; Manatee County Government; Sarasota County Schools; State College of Florida; and Tidewell.

Companies earn the recognition through three areas: physical activity, nutrition and culture.

Employers face increasing healthcare expenses and losses in productivity that cost an estimated $225.8 billion a year. Many adults spend most of their waking hours at sedentary jobs. Their lack of physical activity raises their risk for a host of medical problems, such as obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes.

U.S., SunTrust announce nearly $1B settlement

WASHINGTON -- SunTrust has reached a nearly $1 billion settlement with the government to resolve allegations that it underwrote and provided risky mortgage loans.

The Justice Department on Tuesday announced the $968 million deal with SunTrust Mortgage, a Virginia-based lender and subsidiary of SunTrust Banks.

Attorney General Eric Holder said SunTrust's conduct is a "prime example" of the widespread underwriting failures that helped bring about the recent financial crisis.

As part of the deal, SunTrust has agreed to provide $500 million in homeowner relief and $418 million to resolve allegations that it underwrote bad loans.

-- Herald staff and wire reports

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