Volume 4, No. 8 - August 2015

Case Notes

Bureau of Investigation

The following are instances in which licensees or other persons violated the Florida Insurance Code and the administrative action the Department has taken against them. Note: All administrative investigations are subject to referral to the Division of Insurance Fraud for criminal investigation.

Case: Investigators were alerted by a bail bond agent that several bail bond agents were employing a former temporary bail bond agent as a "bounty hunter". At least three bail bond agents hired the self-styled "bounty hunter" to apprehend defendants and remand them to jail. Bounty hunters are illegal in the State of Florida.
Disposition: The "bounty hunter" was arrested for kidnapping, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, and unlicensed bail bond activity. The subject pled guilty to two felonies and was sentenced to three years in prison. The three bail bond agents were arrested for assorted felonies including kidnapping with a firearm, false imprisonment and furnishing supplies to an unlicensed person. One bail bond agent entered into an agreement with the State Attorneys' office and as a condition, agreed to the permanent revocation of her bail bond agent's license. The other two bail bond agents' criminal cases are pending.

Case: Investigators became aware of a sign used by an agent advertising "free insurance" if a consumer earned less than $45,000. "Free insurance" is prohibited by the Florida Insurance Code.
Disposition: The agent was fined $1,500.

Case: An insurance company notified investigators that a public adjuster had entered into a contract with a consumer that violated Department regulations. Investigators determined the contract failed to indicate the type of claim involved, did not include an attestation that the public adjuster's compensation would not exceed the limits established by the Insurance Code, and did not include the signatures of all insureds or provide an affidavit from the other insured giving rights to the consumer who contracted with the public adjuster to settle the claim.
Disposition: Fined $1,500.

Case: An insurer notified the Department about a complaint involving a senior consumer. The consumer received a cancellation notice for nonpayment of premium for her homeowner's policy. The consumer had paid the entire annual premium in cash to the agent in charge at her insurance agency. The insurance company conducted an audit, and found the consumer had paid the full annual premium. The consumer provided investigators with receipts signed by the general lines agent indicating the policy premiums had been paid in full. In addition to the diversion of premium funds, investigators found that three customer representatives employed at the agency were not properly appointed, and a fourth employee had lost their customer representative license for lack of appointment and had been working at the agency without a license for nine months.
Disposition: Suspended for 12 months. Upon expiration of the suspension, and successful reapplication for her license, the agent will be placed on probation for one year. The Division of insurance Fraud later arrested the agent, charging her with grand theft of a person 65 years or older, and reporting and accounting of funds, both felonies. If found guilty, the agent will be ineligible to obtain a license with the Department.

Case: A customer representative, licensed for 15 years, collected cash payments from numerous agency clients totaling more than $24,000 and failed to turn the monies over to her supervisor causing numerous policies to cancel for nonpayment of premium, and created an assortment of problems for others. The customer representative told investigators that she was sorry, that she needed the money and had every intention of repaying the money. Instead, she got in over her head and started moving fully paid policies to monthly without the consumers' knowledge.
Disposition: License revoked.

Case: A licensed bail bond agent recommended an attorney to a principal seeking to post a bond, failed to timely refund premium to an indemnitor after surrendering a principal, failed to provide a statement of surrender to the principal, and failed to notify the Department of her address change.
Disposition: Fined $3,000, ordered to pay $900 restitution and complete a five hour continuing education course in ethics.

Case: The Department discovered regulatory action was taken against an insurance agency by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), imposing a censure and $175,000 fine. The action was not reported to the Department within 30 days as required by Florida Statutes.
Disposition: Fined $1,500 and placed on probation for one year.

Case: The general lines agent submitted two homeowners applications to an insurer but failed to submit the premium, which was paid in cash by the consumers. The consumers provided investigators with receipts bearing the agent's signature proving the premiums were paid in cash.
Disposition: Suspended for two years.