Volume 3 Number 33
August 14, 2006

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GALLAGHER FILES CHARGES AGAINST DIRECT GENERAL AGENTS FOR ‘SLIDING’ EXTRA CHARGES TO DOZENS OF CUSTOMERS

Tom Gallagher, Florida’s chief financial officer, announced that he has filed administrative charges against 12 agents and customer representatives of Direct General Insurance Agency for “sliding” ancillary products in consumers’ automobile insurance policies without their knowledge or consent, a scheme that cost policyholders as much as 44 percent extra on their premiums.

Gallagher oversees the Department of Financial Services, and the charges follow an investigation by the department’s Division of Agent and Agency Services, Bureau of Investigation, and the Division of Legal Services. Direct General operates more than 100 agencies in Florida doing business as Florida No Fault Insurance, Insurance Options Plus, Friendly Auto, and Cash Register among others. If the charges are upheld, the licensees could face revocation of their licenses. Gallagher said he will also seek restitution for affected consumers.

“Florida’s insurance professionals should be driven by their clients’ best interests, not commissions,” Gallagher said. “This department will continue to rigorously prosecute agents who violate the law and violate that trust.” 


Those agents charged are Thomas Aquinas McCullom of Gulf Breeze (12 counts); Paula Beckett (four counts) and Roger Dale Scites (seven counts), both of St. Petersburg; Kim Suzanne Velez of Ft. Myers (eight counts); Radcliffe H. McKenzie (12 counts) and Alberta Mitchell (nine counts) both of Sunrise; Katherine Anne Fitzgerald of Zellwood (four counts); Jenny R. Caddell of Middleburg (five counts); and Lekeisha Chavon Paige of Jacksonville (three counts).

In addition to eight counts of sliding, customer representative Cecilia Maus, of Cottondale, was charged with three counts of sliding products she was not licensed to sell, and Marie B. Jean, of Riviera Beach, another customer representative, was charged with eight counts of sliding and two counts of unlicensed activity. Earlier this month, Direct General customer representative Denise D. Turnbull settled sliding and unlicensed activity charges leveled by the department, by agreeing to pay restitution and serving a six-month suspension of her insurance licenses followed by a year’s probation.

To verify an agent’s license or file a complaint, consumers should log on to www.MyFloridaCFO.com or call the department’s toll-free consumer helpline at 1-800-342-2762.