Texas Insurance Commissioner Jose Montemayor has issued an emergency cease-and-desist order against an alleged unauthorized insurance scheme that may have cost apartment owners and condominium associations millions of dollars in premiums for bogus property and liability coverage.
Victims were concentrated primarily in the Houston area and in counties along the Gulf coast. Many had recently lost their coverage with other insurers. Texas Department of Insurance investigators identified about 50 properties whose owners or managers bought general liability, umbrella and/or commercial property insurance from the unlicensed operation.
“It´s important for businesses as well as consumers to understand that when you buy coverage from an unauthorized insurer, your chance of getting claims paid is a gamble at best,” Montemayor said.
While the coverage is reportedly being sold at rates below that available through legitimate insurers, the amount of premiums being collected through the sale of this fraudulent coverage is substantial and could approach millions of lost dollars to the victims.
Montemayor’s order, issued Wednesday, names the following entities and individuals as respondents:
International Property Owners Association Ltd. (IPOA), Mandaluyong, Philippines.
UAC Ltd., Managua, Nicaragua.
Christopher Purser, Houston.
Dennis Ray Hamann, Katy.
The order directs the respondents to immediately stop conducting unlicensed insurance business in Texas. It also orders them to refrain from using the premium money they collected from Texas customers, except as TDI might direct.
Montemayor´s order is enforceable in Texas courts. Those named in the order have the right to request a hearing contesting it. The request must be submitted to TDI within 30 days after they receive the order.
IPOA used a Web site and agents to seek customers. One such agent was Purser, who reportedly represented himself as an officer of IPOA. Purser´s agent licenses were revoked in April for “fraudulent and dishonest acts and practices” involving the sale of non-existent liability insurance to nursing homes. The state also reportedly has a court judgment against Purser for $1.9 million in unpaid insurance premium taxes, penalties and interest.
Hamann is a licensed agent allegedly recruited by Purser to sell the IPOA plan to apartment and condo owners. IPOA claimed that its insurance plan was backed by coverage from several legitimate insurers.
TDI investigators said in their application for the cease-and-desist order that each of those companies denied that it provided insurance coverage for the IPOA plan.
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