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Orlando Agent Charged with Fraud for Selling Unauthorized Medical Malpractice Insurance

11/21/2002

ORLANDO-Florida Treasurer and Insurance Commissioner Tom Gallagher announced today the arrest of Michael E. Rock, 33, of Orlando, on charges of soliciting thousands of Florida doctors to purchase fraudulent medical malpractice insurance.

Statewide Prosecutor Melanie Ann Hines also announced today that her office is charging Rock, of 1650 Natchez Trace Blvd., with one count each of grand theft and organized fraud, both first-degree felonies, and five counts of unlawful transaction of insurance, each of which is a third-degree felony. Rock was arrested this morning by fraud investigators with the Department of Insurance at his home and booked into the Orange County Jail. Bond was set at $250,000.

Investigators also executed a search warrant at Rock's home for records of the sale of fraudulent insurance.

Rock was the primary Florida promoter for Embassy Bonding and Surety, Ltd, a New Zealand company with an office in Illinois. Embassy, however, has never possessed 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 shutting down Rock and Embassy's operations. Within the week he ordered a second entity, Physicians Exchange Association, to stop targeting health care providers to buy phony medical malpractice insurance.

"These unlicensed entities are preying on physicians who may be having difficulty obtaining medical malpractice insurance," Gallagher said. "Unlicensed insurance poses a grave and immediate risk of financial harm to doctors, and potentially their patients."

According to Department of Insurance investigators, in June of 2002, Rock solicited nearly 10,000 doctors' offices to purchase medical malpractice insurance through Embassy. Several doctors paid Rock more than $158,000 for coverage.

Department regulators strongly advise medical providers seeking coverage to identify the entity that would be financially responsible for paying their claims, then check with the department to be certain the company is licensed to conduct insurance business in Florida. Gallagher said it is not enough that the agent who is offering the insurance is licensed. For more information or to verify licensure of a company, visit www.fldfs.com or call the department's Consumer Helpline at 1-800-342-2762.

Richard B. Bogle, of the Office of Statewide Prosecution in Orlando, will prosecute the case in the Ninth Judicial Circuit of Florida. The investigation was conducted by the department's Division of Agent and Agency Investigations and Division of Insurance Fraud with assistance from the U.S. Postal Service.

In the past two years, Gallagher has shut down six unlicensed entities selling bogus health insurance to individuals and employers, two entities - including Embassy - selling phony medical malpractice insurance and one posing as a union plan. Information regarding these actions can be found at www.fldfs.com under News Releases.

Anyone with information about others who may have purchased fraudulent insurance from Rock are encouraged to call the Department of Insurance in Orlando at (407) 245-0875.