Mansell, Engel & Cole

A frightening insurance-related tale for Oklahomans

Just how proactive is an Oklahoma resident supposed to be in seeking to forge a contractual relationship with an insurance company? Is there a limit to how cautious and diligent such an individual must be when doing research and vetting prospective agents?

Most people are quite responsible in their search to secure the insurance coverage they need. They read relevant material, they talk with more than one agent and they make reasonable efforts to understand policy language before they affix their signatures.

That is, they take due precautions and logical steps to ensure that they've got what they need and that it adequately protects them against risk.

Well, here's a story for you.

Many hundreds of Oklahomans who did just that were nonetheless scammed in a frightful way by a bad-faith individual posing as a duly qualified and licensed agent.

It would have been easy to be fooled by that person, given his one-time status as an actual agent, his obvious familiarity with industry terminology and documents, his active marketing efforts and his bank of referral business.

"Scams like this are extremely upsetting," stated Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John D. Doak recently, with that understated comment issued in tandem with a cease and desist order barring the bogus agent from doing further insurance-related work. A media article discussing the fraudulent scheme does not state whether authorities will follow up with criminal penalties against that individual.

The fake agent regularly collected premiums from customers justifiably relying upon him, and simply pocketed most of it. The above-cited article implies that he did remit some money to insurance companies, which reasonably begs the question of negligence on their part in investigating and overseeing individuals allegedly acting on their behalf.

The case is an extreme and obviously disturbing example of bad faith, with Doak noting the potential for some people to "be out on the street because the insurance policy they are paying for doesn't actually exist."

As we stress on our website at Mansell, Engel & Cole, bad-faith conduct in the insurance industry encompasses a wide universe of unconscionable and flatly illegal behavior.

Any individual having questions or concerns regarding denied coverage or any other insurance dispute might reasonably want to contact an experienced policyholders' insurance law attorney without delay.

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