Florida Office Of Insurance Regulation Issues Cease And Desist Orders
Contact: Valerie Beynon, APR
Tallahassee – Florida Insurance Regulation Commissioner Kevin M. McCarty issued cease and desist orders to companies in Hartford, Connecticut, Suwanee, Georgia, Port Vila, Vanuatu, South Pacific, and Auckland, New Zealand ordering them to cease operations in Florida. International Fidelity and Surety, Ltd. (IFS), ICM Group, LLC (ICM) have sold performance and labor and material bonds, and a guaranty policy in Florida. Contractors Bonding Limited (CBL) and National Program Management (NPM) sold liability and physical damage insurance policies for hot air balloons. The four companies are unlicensed and unauthorized to transact bond or insurance business in Florida.
The companies were charged with engaging in the unauthorized transaction of insurance in Florida, directly or through an unauthorized agent or representative, and failure to file or seek approval of forms or rates.
"Our Office will order these companies to pay fines and seek restitution of premiums paid by consumers," McCarty said. Florida law defines insurance as a contract whereby one undertakes to indemnify another or pay or allow a specified amount or a determinable benefit upon determinable contingencies.
IFS and ICM sold bonds for construction projects. CBL and NPM sold 87 liability and physical damage hot air balloon flight insurance policies, collecting over $98,000 in premiums.
The orders come on the heels of the Governor's signing of a bill that strengthens Florida's laws on unauthorized insurance entities.
The bill authorizes the Office of Insurance Regulation or the Department of Financial Services to issue a cease and desist order against a person or entity conducting insurance business in or from the state of Florida without a valid license. The law was amended to state that "irreparable harm" to an individual is now presumed for a violation of the statute.
"All Florida businesses and consumers should determine whether the company they are purchasing insurance products from is authorized to operate in Florida," McCarty said. "Unauthorized entities, such as these, are not only illegal but don't offer customers the assurance of benefiting from the consumer protections and solvency standards required of authorized companies."
Prior to any transaction, the Office urges consumers and agents to call the Department of Financial Services consumer helpline at 1-800-342-2762, or visit www.fldfs.com
to be sure an insurance company is authorized to transact insurance business in Florida.