Alex Sink, Florida’s CFO and candidate for Governor in 2010, was the keynote speaker at the 2009 Summer Conference of the Florida Association of Public Insurance Adjusters (FAPIA) yesterday.

Sink has not failed in her job as CFO and has an excellent chance to become Florida’s next governor. Her opponent in the race, Bill McCollum, seems to be the darling of the insurance industry. Sink, on the other hand, is setting out a course as a champion for consumers.

I first met Alex Sink in Tallahassee shortly after she became CFO. In our initial meeting, she seemed very concerned with the ability of Florida’s Catastrophe Fund to raise money quickly if needed. Several months later, she reached a deal with Warren Buffett and bought an option for Florida to receive funds from Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway in the event of a catastrophe. This was long before the financial collapse last year, and I felt she was a genius to have figured out the oncoming credit collapse months before anyone else. Maybe all her years as a banker gave her a much better appreciation for the upcoming financial mess we have been going through.

Sink applauded FAPIA for raising the standards of Florida public insurance adjusters. Indeed, Sink noted that FAPIA has called for higher testing and educational requirements for those obtaining a license, has requested stronger ethics requirements, and made experience a requirement through an apprentice program. She urged the group to promote more professionalism in the trade and to always look for ways to protect insurance policyholders from those that are unscrupulous.

She said that she supported the gradual rate increases for Citizens property insurance because it was not fair that others had to subsidize Citizens so that it could offer rates that are far from actuarially sound. She was happy the Catastrophe Fund exposure was lessened, although she is still concerned about Florida’s financial exposure should a major hurricane strike southeastern Florida.

In the future, she felt Florida’s government needs far greater transparency in operations so people know how our government runs and how laws are made. She felt that Shawn Shaw as the Insurance Consumer Advocate was a great appointment because many in Tallahassee forget that the people, not insurance companies, vote them into office. She indicated Shaw was a strong advocate for consumers. Most, including me, agree.

My impression was that she knows insurance consumers need professional help. She clearly suggested that FAPIA continue its longstanding position with an eye towards serving insurance consumers through higher and stronger professional requirements. She is right on that point. Florida deserves highly educated, trained, professional, and ethical public insurance adjusters.