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CFO Sink Puts the Brakes on Miami-Dade Agent Accused of Putting Dozens of Uninsured Truckers on the Road

1/26/2009

CONTACT: Kevin Cate or Nina Banister
(850) 413-2842   
                                                                                                                     
Victims urged to verify coverage, assist with criminal investigation
MEDLEY – Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink is urging the commercial trucking industry and the public to provide any information that may assist the Department of Financial Services’ ongoing criminal investigation into an agent who pocketed at least $500,000 in commercial auto premiums and failed to place coverage for dozens of truckers, causing them to unknowingly operate without insurance.
Margarita D. Martin, owner and operator of Martin-Argote Insurance Group, Inc., in Medley, has been permanently barred from any involvement in the insurance industry, based on a final order the department issued in December.  Sink took expedited action against Martin, including an emergency order in October.  The department’s Division of Agent and Agency Services, Bureau of Investigation, also found Martin forged two letters from a doctor and claimed to have cancer to try to postpone hearings on the allegations.
“The actions of this agent put many Floridian’s jobs and licenses at risk, in addition to putting thousands of innocent drivers at financial risk,” said CFO Sink.  “The revocation of this agent’s license will immediately protect the consumer as our ongoing criminal investigation by our Division of Insurance Fraud seeks to hold her accountable.”
Martin sold commercial liability insurance and had customers throughout Florida. Between January 2006 and November 2008, some truckers lost their licenses and even their jobs after having to pay for accidents that occurred during the time they were supposedly insured under policies written by Martin’s agency. 
Martin sought to hide her actions by creating three “branch” offices using the names of insurance agents with whom she had no relationship.  The three offices were Reliable Insurance Underwriters, Inc. of Jacksonville; Specialized Insurance Solutions, Inc. of Virginia Gardens; and Atlas Permits & Insurance Services, Inc. in Medley.   Anyone who did business with Martin-Argote Insurance Group, Inc., or any of Martin’s  branch agencies is urged to check their proof of insurance to identify the insurance company, and then can call the CFO’s consumer helpline at 1-877-MY-FL-CFO (1-877-693-5236) to verify coverage.
Anyone with information that may be of assistance in the criminal investigation is asked to call Detective Bill Lee at 954-321-2980.
“I commend our Miami investigative staff, led by Lidia Azcue, for bringing us the evidence we needed to take swift action to protect Florida drivers, including the professional truckers who keep our economy moving,” Sink said.
The Florida Department of Financial Services’ Division of Agent and Agency Services, Bureau of Investigation, investigates violations of law by insurance agents including health, life, auto, property, workers’ compensation, bail bond and title insurance.  To file a complaint against an agent call 1-877-MY-FL-CFO (1-877-693-5236) or visit www.MyFloridaCFO.com.