Volume 2 Number 31
August 1, 2005


Consumer Services HelpLine Number 800-342-2762






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Homeowners insurance is an important Florida issue and we are all looking for the best coverage at the best price. Unfortunately, some scam artists are targeting homeowners by offering insurance deals that are too good to be true. Don't be a victim of unlicensed "insurers." Learn how to protect yourself from bogus companies offering illusory insurance coverage.

Aggressive advertising about low rates may not tell the whole story. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Beware of prices that are significantly lower than others you’ve been quoted and check out the company’s brochure and other materials.  

But most important of all, make sure the company is authorized to sell insurance in Florida.  When Florida-licensed insurance companies fail, policyholders are protected by a guaranty fund to cover outstanding claims.  Florida law requires licensed companies to participate in the guaranty fund.  However, unlicensed companies are not covered by the fund, so recovering unpaid claims can be difficult. 

The Florida Department of Financial Services is conducting a statewide public education campaign warning consumers and agents to “Verify Before You Buy.”  As a result, we’re getting more calls from agents wanting to verify that insurance entities soliciting them are properly licensed.

Consumers may visit www.MyFloridaCFO.com to find out if an insurance company or insurance agent is licensed in Florida, to file a complaint or to learn more about unlicensed insurance. Florida consumers may also call the Department of Financial Services’ toll-free consumer helpline at 1-800-342-2762. The helpline is available Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

Remember, knowledge is the best protection.  Verify before you buy and protect your family, your property and your investment. 

Night falls over the 1908 Lafayette County courthouse in Mayo, the county seat.  The two-story frame building across the street was an earlier courthouse. The county was formed in 1856 and named after the French marquis who assisted the colonies during the Revolutionary War.


 

 

 

Small Group Market Carriers

Florida Small Employer Benefit Plan

OPEN ENROLLMENT STARTS TODAY FOR SOLE PROPRIETORS

One-life group open enrollment starts today, August 1, and continues through August 31.  A sole proprietor that applies during the month of August and is deemed eligible for coverage will have a policy effective date of October 1.  This is the month for new one-life groups to apply for coverage and for existing one-life groups to shop around and/or switch carriers if they wish.  Insurers and HMOs have to offer small group Standard and Basic policies to one-life groups.  The benefits provided under these two standardized policies can be viewed on the website at Florida Small Employer Benefit Plan.

All companies and HMOs that participate in the small group market must accept all eligible one-life groups during the month of August.  A list of insurance companies offering coverage is posted on the Department of Financial Services’ website at this link: Small Group Market Carriers

The one-life group coverage is guaranteed issue if the sole proprietor can meet the statutory requirements. Florida Statute 627.6699(3)(u) states that a self-employed individual must have taxable income as indicated on IRS Form 1040, Schedule C or F, in one of the two previous years.  Under section (3)(v), it states that a small employer, including sole proprietors, must be actively engaged in business, have its primary place of business in this state, and employ at least one person on the first day of the plan year. CONTINUED


 


 

 

 

STATE INVESTIGATORS WRAP UP WORKERS’ COMPENSATION COMPLIANCE SWEEPS

OFFICIALS TERM TWO DAY EFFORT AS “EXTREMELY PRODUCTIVE”

 Investigators from the Department of Financial Services Division of Workers’ Compensation announced the results of a recent two-day sweep of construction sites in the state.  There were 848 site visits made during the sweeps resulting in 100 stop work orders (SWOs) being written against employers without legitimate workers’ compensation coverage. 

Under state law, businesses engaged in the construction industry with one or more employees must provide workers’ compensation coverage, which protects workers who are injured or killed on the job.

“Contractors who provide coverage to protect their workers continually tell us how difficult it is to compete with those who cheat the system,” said Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher.  “We have seen workers’ compensation rates fall and the availability of coverage increase in recent years largely due to the efforts of our workers’ compensation investigators to root out fraud and abuse.”  
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BEWARE OF UNLICENSED ENTITY SELLING HOMEOWNERS INSURANCE

The Florida Department of Financial Services warned that it has received reports of an unlicensed entity selling bogus homeowners insurance in Florida.  Global Insurance Group, headquartered in Aventura, FL., has been aggressively advertising that it offers the lowest windstorm insurance rates in Florida. 

When asked about its licensing status, a company representative reported that it sells coverage through a company named Global Property and Casualty Insurance.  Neither entity is either licensed or authorized to sell insurance in Florida.  

“Floridians need to be on guard against this kind of activity,” said Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher.  “Last year’s hurricanes taught us how devastating and expensive property losses can be.  It is critical for Floridians to make sure an insurance company is licensed.” 

If a licensed insurer becomes insolvent all outstanding policyholder claims will be paid through the state guarantee fund.  However, if a company is not authorized, any losses sustained cannot be recovered from the fund. 

To check on the license status of a company or agent, consumers should visit www.MyFloridaCFO.com, and click on Verify Before You Buy, or call the Department of Financial Services' Helpline at 1-800-342-2762.


 

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GALLAGHER ANNOUNCES INSURANCE FRAUD ARREST

Miami couple charged with selling fake insurance to truckers

Tom Gallagher, Florida’s chief financial officer, announced the arrest of Rosa Bajdor of Miami on charges of transacting insurance without a certificate after she was discovered paying an accident claim without a license.  Also implicated is Bajdor’s husband, Peter, who is expected to surrender later this week.  Additional charges are forthcoming.

In an investigation carried out by the Department of Financial Services Division of Insurance Fraud, the Bajdors were discovered to have sold fraudulent liability insurance certificates to local truck drivers.  Both previously held licenses to sell insurance in Florida that were revoked pursuant to a prior agreement with the department.

“I am committed to making sure Florida residents are protected against fraudulent insurance scams,” said Gallagher, who oversees the department.  “We will continue to investigate and prosecute anyone who commits insurance fraud.” CONTINUED