Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John D. Doak has issued a cease and desist order to a former insurance agent in Cushing.
Investigators discovered Mark Lauderdale, whose insurance license expired four years ago, continued collecting payments for insurance policies, but failed to forward all of the money on to insurance companies.
The scheme left some of his clients without coverage for years, according to the commissioner's office.
Commissioner Doak is urging all of Lauderdale’s clients to call their insurance companies directly to confirm that their policies are legitimate.
If they are not, the client should obtain the necessary coverage then contact the Oklahoma Insurance Department’s Anti-Fraud Division at 405-522-6614.
“Scams like this are extremely upsetting,” said Doak. "We have people making their premium payments like they’re supposed to, thinking they’re protected from financial disaster, but in reality, they’re not.”
“If a fire burns their home to the ground, they’ll be out on the street because the insurance policy they are paying for doesn’t actually exist. This is completely unacceptable,” he said.
Lauderdale, whose clients include a small town in Payne County and a senior citizen activity center, hasn’t had a valid insurance license since May 31, 2013.
Investigators found he created false documents to convince his clients that they were insured, when in fact they were not.
Despite not having a license, Lauderdale advertised his services in the Cushing phone book. He told investigators he had between 300 and 400 active clients.
The Oklahoma Insurance Department gives these consumer tips”
• Verify your agent is licensed at www.oid.ok.gov. The link can be found in the Consumer Assistance section.
• Send the payment directly to the insurance company instead of the agent.
• Be suspicious if your agent bills you for premium installments after your first payment. Your insurer should handle the billing.
• Buy coverage only after all documents are completely filled out and you fully understand the cost and what’s included.
• Never sign a blank insurance form or give your agent power of attorney to sign an insurance application for you.
• Get a copy of every document you sign. If you finance your premiums, make sure your agent gives you paperwork that describes exactly how much you pay for each installment and what that payment covers.
• Contact the company if you haven't received a policy within 60 days of submitting your application.
• Make sure your insurance company is healthy and can pay claims. Contact A.M. Best or Moody's to see if the company is financially healthy.
Lauderdale was fined $5,000 in 2003 for misappropriation of insurance premiums. His license was suspended on May 31, 2013, when he failed to submit an application for renewal.
The information in this story was taken from a statement released by the Oklahoma Insurance Department.