Tuesday, August 03, 2010
CONTACT: Nina Banister or Jerri Franz, (850) 413-2842, Jack McDermott or Brittany Benner, (850) 413-2515
TALLAHASSEE- The Florida Department of Financial Services (DFS) and the Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR) are warning Floridians of the solicitation of unauthorized health insurance plans sold by the Association of Independent Managers (AIM). The OIR has issued a Cease and Desist Order to AIM, and preliminary OIR estimates indicate as many as 1,800 consumers have already purchased these bogus health plans.
"Bogus health insurance scams rob consumers of their hard-earned money and also leave them uncovered in the event that medical care is needed," said CFO Alex Sink, who oversees the Department of Financial Services. "My Department is working together with OIR to actively seek out and hold accountable any agents involved in unauthorized insurance transactions."
Today, the OIR issued a Cease and Desist Order to AIM for the unauthorized sale of health insurance products. Preliminary OIR estimates indicate as many as 1,800 consumers have already purchased these illegitimate health plans from AIM.
"This type of illegal and unethical activity will not be tolerated as Floridians must rely on health insurance to pay their claims during these vulnerable economic times," said Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty. "We can assure Floridians that our team will continue to be vigilant to ensure the legitimacy of health insurance products sold in Florida."
The DFS has received complaints from over 96 consumers involving 49 agents soliciting health benefits through different unauthorized entities. Most notably, AIM recently marketed "AIM Health Plans."
Insurance Resource Group (IRG) is another name associated with AIM Health Plans. Some of the individuals involved with the sale of AIM plans have also participated in the unauthorized sale of health insurance products with other companies including Serve America Assurance and Real Benefits Association.
Other unauthorized plans marketed by AIM are known to include-but are not limited to:
* AIM Health Solutions
* AIM Guaranteed Health Insurance
* "CEO Club Benefits"
* "CEO Health Club Benefits"
* "Chief Executive Officers Club"
* "CEO Health Select"
AIM is also known to associate with the names of:
* National Association of Business Leaders (NABL)
* Worldwide Family Benefit Association
* Insurance Resource Group (IRG)
* Integrated Insurance Marketing (IIM)
* Phoenix Insurance / Star, U.K. / Star Group, U.K.
* Viking Administrators
* Commerce Benefits Group Agency
No entity under these names is currently authorized by the OIR to transact health insurance business in Florida.
The OIR only authorizes insurers that have met Florida's stringent statutory requirements. The Florida Life and Health Guaranty Association Act protects policyholders with authorized insurance products should the insurer become insolvent. Unauthorized insurance, particularly unauthorized health insurance, can lead to significant unpaid claims and out-of-pocket costs for victims; the Guaranty Fund will not pay these claims. Agents and individuals who sell unauthorized insurance can be required to pay all unpaid claims, and can face felony charges. Agents can lose their license and are urged to verify the company is licensed in Florida before they sell.
Consumers who believe they have bought coverage from an unlicensed insurance operation should take the following steps:
* Call the CFO's Consumer Helpline at 1-877-MY-FL-CFO (1-877-693-5236) or log on to Consumer Help Online at www.MyFloridaCFO.com.
* Consider closing the bank account or canceling the credit card from which premiums are paid so no unauthorized transactions can occur.
* Replace the unlicensed coverage with coverage from an authorized insurer.
Consumers should also:
* Understand what they are buying.
* Shop around and compare rates. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
* Be cautious about responding to emails, faxes or phone calls. Even when buying insurance online, consumers should verify the Office of Insurance Regulation has authorized the insurer before purchasing.
To verify the authorization of an insurance company visit http://www.floir.com or for the licensure of an agent, visit www.MyFloridaCFO.com or call the CFO's Consumer Helpline at 1-877-MY-FL-CFO (1-877-693-5236).
As a statewide elected officer of the Florida Cabinet, CFO Alex Sink oversees the Department of Financial Services. A successful business leader with nearly three decades of experience in the private sector, Sink is serving her first term as Florida's CFO. CFO Sink's priorities include using her business experience to cut wasteful spending, holding government accountable to Florida's taxpayers, and cracking down on financial and insurance fraud.
About the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation
The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation has primary responsibility for regulation, compliance and enforcement of statutes related to the business of insurance and the monitoring of industry markets.