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Department of Financial Services Consumer Warning: Unauthorized Health Insurance Being Marketed in Florida

2/19/2010

CONTACT: Kyra Jennings or Nina Banister, (850) 413-2842
 
TALLAHASSEE— The Florida Department of Financial Services (DFS) today issued a consumer warning for Floridians receiving solicitations from unauthorized insurance companies using the names American Trade Association, Real Benefits Association or Smart Data Solutions. Selling unauthorized insurance is a felony.
 
No entity is currently licensed to transact insurance business in Florida under these names.  Consumers who bought health insurance policies from these entities, or another entity they cannot confirm is licensed to transact insurance in Florida, are urged to call the CFO’s Consumer Helpline at 1-877-MY-FL-CFO (1-877-693-5236) or log on to Consumer Help Online at www.MyFloridaCFO.com.
 
DFS issued an Immediate Final Order in 2007 against entities suspected to be affiliated with these same entities -- New Jersey-based National Trade Business Alliance of America (NTBAA), National Alliance Association (NAA) and several affiliates, ordering the entities to stop the unauthorized sale of health insurance in Florida.
 
Licensed insurers have met Florida’s stringent statutory financial requirements for licensure, and policyholders are protected by the Florida Life and Health Guaranty Association Act should a licensed insurer become insolvent. Unauthorized insurance does not offer these protections.  Unauthorized insurance, particularly unauthorized health insurance, can lead to significant unpaid claims and out-of-pocket costs for victims. Agents or individuals who sell unauthorized insurance not only could lose their license but also could be required to pay all unpaid claims and could face felony charges.
 
Consumers who believe they have bought coverage from an unlicensed insurance operation should take the following steps:
 
  • Replace the unlicensed coverage with coverage from a licensed insurer.
  • If sold by a licensed agent, send the agent a letter via certified mail stating that he/she sold you an unlicensed plan and by law (F.S. 626.901), the agent is responsible for any unpaid bills. Include a copy of the bills with a total amount of the unpaid bills in the text of the letter. Give the agent a deadline to contact you to discuss payment of the claims or to promptly send a check.
  • Notify the Department of Financial Services that this agent sold you an unlicensed health plan so our office can take appropriate action.
     
In addition, consumers should:
 
  • Understand what they are buying.
  • Shop around and compare rates.  Remember, if it sounds too good to be true it probably is.
  • Be cautious about responding to emails, faxes or phone calls.  Even when buying insurance online, consumers should verify licensure before providing bank or credit card information.
To verify licensure of an insurance company or agent, consumers should visit www.MyFloridaCFO.com or call  the CFO’s Consumer Helpline at 1-877-MY-FL-CFO (1-877-693-5236).
 
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