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Department Charges Clearwater Agent with Selling Unlicensed Insurance

6/24/2003

CONTACT: Justin Glover
(850) 413-2842

TAMPA– The Florida Department of Financial Services has filed an administrative complaint against a local insurance agent, accusing her of selling health insurance policies from an unlicensed insurance entity.

The department alleges that Rhonda Jean Taylor left at least one customer with unpaid medical bills after the group health insurance plan he purchased from Taylor, through an entity known as TRG, turned out to be worthless. TRG left thousands of Floridians with hundreds of thousands in medical debt. The department shut down TRG in January 2002 and arrested the principals, Carmelo Zanfei and William Paul Crouse, in April on charges of selling insurance without a license and racketeering. They each face up to 60 years in prison if convicted on the charges.

Taylor, 35, of 1349 Williams Drive in Clearwater, could have her license revoked and be subject to fines and restitution. Taylor has been licensed as a life, health and variable annuities agent since 1996.

Effective July 1, anyone who acts as insurer without a license can be charged with a first-, second- or third-degree felony depending on the amount of premiums collected. The law also will make it a third-degree felony for any individual who has been banned from the industry or a licensee whose license has been suspended or revoked to transact any insurance, licensed or unlicensed. It also allows policyholders to sue an unlicensed entity that has left them with unpaid claims.

The department has been conducting a statewide public education campaign for more than a year warning consumers to "Verify Before You Buy." An online information resource was recently unveiled as part of the campaign. Consumers may visit www.fldfs.com and click "Think You're Covered?" to read the order against Taylor and orders against other agents charged with selling unlicensed insurance. Consumers also can verify licensure of an insurance company or agent on the web site or by calling the Department of Financial Services' toll free consumer helpline at 1-800-342-2762. The helpline is available Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.