Volume 5, No. 9 - September 2016

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: An attorney-owner of a title insurance agency filed a complaint alleging a title insurance agent embezzled $150,000 in agency funds. These funds were provided to the agent for deposit in the agency's escrow account for property closings. The title agent converted the funds for personal gain. Investigators obtained affidavits from the two consumers involved, ages 79 and 81, stating that prior to the closing they gave their checks to the title agent. Prior to the planned closing date, the title agent called the consumers and told them not to attend the closing. The consumers attended the closing anyway and signed the closing documents. The following day, a family member was evicted from the property. Investigators obtained copies of the negotiated checks proving the title agent had deposited both cashier's checks into an account for which the title agent was the sole account owner.
License revoked. The former agent was arrested by the Division of Investigative & Forensic Services' Bureau of Insurance Fraud and charged with multiple counts of Exploitation of the Elderly, Theft from Elderly, Grand Theft, and Diversion of Insurance Funds.

Case: Investigators opened a case after receiving a referral from the Division of Investigative and Forensic Services' Bureau of Insurance Fraud advising a general lines agent submitted a policy reinstatement form to an insurance company that did not bear the true signature of the consumer. The document in question was an attestation to be signed by the insured affirming there had been no claims during the period of time the policy was lapsed, a "Statement of No Losses". According to a statement taken from the consumer, he refused to sign the document because he had in fact been involved in an accident. The document the agent sent to the consumer for his signature was already completed and notarized, even though the consumer had not signed it. Because the consumer was forthcoming about the accident, the insurance company agreed to cover the loss.
License suspended for six months.

Case:This case was opened based on a referral resulting from an examination conducted by the Division of Funeral, Cemetery and Consumer Services.  The referral indicated, that a life, health, and variable annuity agent was signing life insurance applications to fund pre-need final expense contracts at a funeral home without meeting with the insured/applicants. Investigators determined the consumers met with pre-need sales agents at the funeral home and signed blank life insurance applications in conjunction with the pre-need sale, without the presence of the licensed life agent. The investigator spoke with several consumers who confirmed they met with pre-need sales agents at the funeral home, not the agent who signed the life insurance applications.
License revoked.

Case: An insurance company filed a complaint alleging a general and personal lines agent falsified proof of prior insurance documentation for a number of consumers, indicating they had held prior insurance coverage although this was not true. Investigators determined the agent falsified the existence of prior coverage to obtain more favorable rates for the consumers.
Disposition: License suspended for one year.

Case: The Department was notified by a surety company that one of their bail bond agents had failed to pay an outstanding forfeiture of more than $17,000 to the respective Clerk of Court. The bail bond agent had verbally agreed to make payments, which she did for a few payments, then she stopped repaying the debt. After investigators became involved, the bail bond agent paid the balance owed in full.
Disposition: Fined $1,000 and placed on probation for one year.

Case: This case was opened after investigators learned of an action filed against a life and variable annuity agent by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). The action stated the agent failed to provide documents and information requested during the course of a FINRA investigation. Investigators determined that the underlying case involved the agent improperly obtaining more than $99,000 from a bank trust account. The agent was subsequently barred by FINRA.
Disposition: Permanently removed from the insurance business in Florida.