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Gallagher Shuts down Second Unlicensed Entity Selling Bogus Medical Malpractice Coverage

8/9/2002

Immediate Final Order


TALLAHASSEE - For the second time this week, state Treasurer and Insurance Commissioner Tom Gallagher shut down an unlicensed company selling worthless medical malpractice insurance to health care professionals in Florida.

The Atlanta-based entity operates under several names, including Physicians Exchange Association, Physicians Exchange Risk Retention Group, Doctors Liability Exchange and Reliance General Insurance Company. Among its major Florida promoters is Professional Risk Management, LLC, of Boynton Beach, Florida, owned by a Florida insurance agent, Jerry Agtmaal. Other than Agtmaal, none of the "companies" or principals are licensed to transact insurance business in Florida.

"Unlicensed medical malpractice insurance poses a grave and immediate risk of financial harm to doctors, and potentially their patients," Gallagher said.

According to Gallagher, representatives of the unlicensed entity told medical providers that their firm was exempt from Florida regulation under the Federal Liability Risk Retention Act. Although the LRRA does pre-empt some aspects of state regulation, it only does so if a risk retention group is licensed under the law of at least one state. Neither the Exchange nor Reliance, nor any of their aliases, is licensed as an insurer in any state.

Last month, the department issued a warning to physicians and other health care providers about unlicensed companies targeting them for sales of medical malpractice insurance.

Department regulators advise medical providers seeking coverage to identify the entity that would be financially responsible for paying their claims and check with the department to be certain the company is licensed to sell insurance in Florida. For more information, contact the Department of Insurance at 1-800-342-2762.

Visit www.fldfs.com and click "News Releases" to view a copy of the department's immediate final order on Physicians Exchange.