Georgia Charges Tennessee Trucking Insurance Agent with $2.6 Million Fraud

April 10, 2009

A Chattanooga, Tenn. insurance agent has been charged with insurance fraud and theft for allegedly adding commissions to policies when he told policyholders that the coverage was being sold on a net basis — with a set fee, but without a commission, according to Georgia Insurance Commissioner John W. Oxendine.

Warrants were issued for Edward Prater, 61. Oxendine said Prater was not a licensed insurance agent in Georgia, but through his agency sold the policies with improper commissions in the state.

Oxendine said his department’s investigation revealed that Prater received $2.6 million in commissions by altering documents to deceive clients about their premium payments.

In 1996 Prater co-founded the U.S. Insurance Group agency he worked for, headquartered at 736 Market Street, Chattanooga. The agency specializes in transportation-related coverages. The alleged fraud has been going on since 2003,
Oxendine said.

Prater earned the commissions primarily on group auto and workers compensation policies, according to officials.

“There may be other victims of this agent out there,” Oxendine said. “We’d like to hear from anyone who has done business with Prater and who has reason to believe they paid too much.”

The agency says it is licensed in 40 states.

U.S. Insurance Group is headquartered in Chattanooga and also has an office Nashville. According to its Web site, it has a related company, U.S. Insurance Group of Florida, located in Lakeland, Florida.

Oxendine said policyholders with questions could contact his office at 404-656-2070.

Insurance fraud is a felony with a penalty of two to 10 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.

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