ORLANDO INSURANCE AGENT PLEADS NO CONTEST TO FRAUD
An insurance agent has pleaded no contest to organized fraud and unlawful sale of insurance for soliciting doctors to buy bogus medical malpractice coverage.
Michael Rock, 34, was arrested on the charges in November 2002 by investigators with the Department of Financial Services, Division of Insurance Fraud. Rock entered a plea in Orange County Circuit Court. Judge Stan Strickland withheld adjudication and ordered Rock to serve 10 years’ supervised probation and pay restitution of $159,004, in addition to more than $6,000 in investigative, prosecution and court costs.
According to state insurance fraud investigators, Rock solicited nearly 10,000 doctors’ offices to purchase medical malpractice insurance through an unlicensed New Zealand-based company called Embassy Bonding and Surety, Ltd. Several doctors paid premiums to Rock.
“These unlicensed entities are preying on physicians who may be having difficulty obtaining medical malpractice insurance,” said Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher, who oversees the Department of Financial Services. “Unlicensed insurance poses a grave and immediate risk of financial harm to doctors, and potentially their patients.”
Rock was the primary Florida promoter for Embassy Bonding. Embassy never applied for a certificate of authority to transact insurance in Florida, and the insurance products sold by Rock were worthless. Gallagher issued an Immediate Final Order in August 2002 shutting down Rock and Embassy’s operations.
Since February 2001, more than 200 unauthorized insurance entities, marketers, affiliates, agents and other individuals have been ordered to stop selling unauthorized insurance in Florida. It is a third-degree felony to transact unlicensed insurance in Florida.
The department has conducted a statewide public education campaign for more than two years warning agents and consumers to “Verify Before You Buy.” Consumers may visit www.MyFloridaCFO.com and click “Think You’re Covered?” to read administrative complaints and orders against agents and entities, find out if an insurance company is licensed in Florida, file a complaint or learn more about unlicensed insurance.
Consumers may also call the Department of Financial Services’ toll-free consumer helpline at 1-800-342-2762 to verify that they are dealing with a licensed insurance company and a licensed agent. The helpline is available Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
The Department of Financial Services, Division of Insurance Fraud, investigates various forms of fraud in insurance, including health, life, auto, property and workers' compensation insurance. Anyone with information about this case or another possible fraud scheme should call the department's Fraud Busters Hotline at 1-800-378-0445. A reward of up to $25,000 may be offered for information leading to a conviction.