Agents And Cheaters

Attorneys who handle many insurance cases can tell stories of clients being ripped-off by insurance agents. Some pocket premiums rather than send the premiums to the insurance company. Some forge signatures on applications. Some fill out false information on applications without telling their customer. Some tell you that you have the coverage you are requesting when you do not.
Having said the above, the vast majority are honest hard working people. The problem is the few who are crooks. The Insurance Journal will report on cases where a person tries to take advantage of an insurance company. But the Insurance Journal will also report on agents who take advantage of their customers. A recent article is titled, Michigan Insurance Broker Sentenced on Racketeering Charge.
A Troy, Mich., insurance broker was sentenced last week to 14 months to 20 years in prison on one count of racketeering, the state attorney general’s office announced.
Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette said John Flaherty, 70, was also ordered to pay more than $1.3 million in restitution to his victims.
The Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services (then known as the Office of Financial and Insurance Regulation, or OFIR) found in 2008 that Flaherty, through his brokerage, Alternative Insurance Services (AIS) had misappropriated more than $1.3 million in premium funds for his own personal use. The AG’s office said Flaherty began skimming small amounts of insurance premium paid by local insurance agents on behalf of their customers, rather than sending them to insurance companies, as far back as 1999.
OFIR revoked AIS’ license and ordered the agency to stop selling insurance in Michigan in 2008. In 2010, the OFIR petitioned the court to have Flaherty abide by the terms of a restitution plan to which he had previously agreed. The OFIR said he never complied with the consent order, under which he was to pay restitution of $1,329,086 to 18 insurers and surplus lines general agents.
The AG’s investigation found that Flaherty had started skimming small amounts of insurance premium.
According to the AG’s office, Flaherty used the money to pay for expensive cars, clothing and even to live in a hotel for over a year, while he was using additional premiums to pay the mortgage on a home he owned. Flaherty was able to cover the fraud for years by taking money from other premiums to cover the money he stole. However, once his business slowed he was unable to continue covering the fraud.
“Local insurance agents trusted that this man was doing legitimate business when in fact he was taking advantage of them and their customers in order to benefit himself,” said Schuette. “This violation of trust is against the law and will not be tolerated.”

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