The Florida Department of Financial Services reminds agents to ensure the insurance companies they consider representing are authorized in Florida, before offering their products to consumers.
Lately, known unauthorized entities have again begun soliciting Florida business via unsolicited faxes to licensed agents, agencies and warranty salespersons. The entities, International Water Safety Foundation (IWSF) and Water Safety Services (WSS), were the subject of an Immediate Final Order issued on October 15, 2003, by the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation. It ordered they “cease and desist from acting or holding itself out to be an insurer in this state, transacting any new or renewal insurance business in this state, and from collecting any premiums from Florida insureds.”
Also known as International Water Marine Safety Foundation and International Marine Safety Foundation, the entity is based in Canada and claims to have offices in England. IWSF claims to be the holder of a Master Policy issued by North American Marine & General Insurance Company Limited (NAMGIC). NAMGIC was also ordered to cease and desist in the same order above. IWSF offers insurance for all-terrain vehicles, personal watercraft, boats, and other specialty and commercial craft.
IWSF has left a trail of Florida consumers with unpaid claims. Several investigations have been opened on Florida-licensed agents for placing risks with IWSF and NAMGIC. In November 2010, a Canadian court issued a judgment against IWSF and WSS.
Any agent who solicits or sells for these or any unauthorized entity is in violation of Florida Law (§626.901, Florida Statues, among others), may be liable for losses sustained not paid by the unauthorized entity, and may be charged with a third degree felony (§626.902, Florida Statutes), punishable by imprisonment for up to five years and a fine of up to $5,000 on the first offense.
Protect your license and your clients. Report contacts from unauthorized insurers to the Florida Department of Financial Services, Bureau of Investigation, at askDFS@MyFloridaCFO.com or (850) 413-3136.
Go to http://www.floir.com/CompanySearch to search for admitted insurance companies authorized to do business in Florida. Click here for instructions to assist you with searching for authorized companies.