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South Florida Viatical Firm Charged with Fraud

1/22/2003

TALLAHASSEE – The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation is seeking revocation or suspension of the license of a Fort Lauderdale-based viatical settlement provider for overcharging and misleading investors and allegedly buying fraudulently obtained insurance policies to resell to investors, said OIR Director Kevin McCarty.

The Office of Insurance Regulation, within the Department of Financial Services, is pursuing the action based on charges filed earlier this month against William Page and Associates, Inc., d/b/a The Lifeline Program. The complaint charges the company failed to report fraudulent insurance acts and engaged in fraudulent or dishonest practices.

Viatical settlement providers buy life insurance policies sold by insured individuals who may be terminally ill or otherwise have a shortened life expectancy. The policies, bought for a percentage of the face value, are then resold to investors who collect the death benefit when the insured dies. The State of Florida has regulated viaticals since 1996.

Hundreds of William Page and Associates investors allegedly were charged to keep policies in force when no provision of any agreement between William Page and Associates and those purchasers authorized such charges. The administrative complaint also alleges that 31 investors who requested various investment periods ranging from 12 months to 48 months allegedly were invested in one policy whose insured had conflicting life expectancy reports. Investors, as a result, allegedly were misled about the expected return on their investments.

The complaint further alleges the company purchased policies from three viators who the company knew had lied on life insurance applications about medical conditions in order to get coverage, and that the company has failed to honor contractual obligations stemming from its viatical settlement contracts.

William Page and Associates, Inc., has 21 days from receipt of the administrative complaint to respond to the complaint and can request a hearing before the Division of Administrative Hearings to contest the charges.

The Office of Insurance Regulation is responsible for regulation of all insurance companies and risk-bearing entities, including admissions, rates, policy forms, market conduct, claims, adjusters, issuance of certificates of authority, solvency, viatical settlements and premium financing. The office reports to the Financial Services Commission, made up of the governor and the Cabinet.