A Connecticut insurance company has been fined $1 million by Washington State Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler for multiple violations over several years.
Aetna Life Insurance Company has agreed to pay the fine. The violations include issuing unapproved insurance policies, failing to file legally-required documents with the state and charging unapproved rates.
“All insurers must comply with state law, and most of them do,” said Kreidler. “I hope that this fine and compliance plan resolves these problems with Aetna.”
Among the violations:
• Starting in 2005, Aetna issued health, disability or life insurance policies to more than 4,400 people that did not comply with state law. Among the violations: The policies had not been filed for approval with Washington state.
• Also starting in 2005, the company issued health policies that did not include all Washington state health care mandates. Nor did they describe Washington’s appeals and grievance process, as required by law.
• For more than three years, Aetna continued to sell a health policy that had been disapproved.
• Starting in 2009, Aetna issued other health, disability and life policies that had not been filed with the state. Some of those health policies that did not include all Washington state mandates. Nor did the company have an approved appeals and grievance process for those plans.
• In 2010 and 2011, Aetna issued medical and dental plans for more than 100 Nordstrom retirees that had not been approved by Kreidler’s office, as required by law.
The company has also agreed to a compliance plan designed to prevent similar problems in the future.
Fines issued by Kreidler’s office do not go to the insurance commissioner’s office. The money collected goes to the state’s general fund.
The National Weather Service has issued a high wind warning for the south Puget Sound area, including south Tacoma, Olympia, the southern part of Hood Canal, Montesano, Chehalis and Centralia.
A "southerly wind 15 to 30 mph will develop late this evening (Sunday)...then switch to southwest wind 30 to 40 mph with gusts to 60 mph late tonight and Monday morning," the NWS said. "Winds will slowly ease Monday afternoon."
From a news release we sent out today: OLYMPIA, Wash. – A Connecticut businessman who insures golf tournament hole-in-one prizes but has a history of failing to pay has been extradited to Washington to face charges.
Kevin Kolenda, 55, of Norwalk, Conn., was flown from Connecticut to Washington under guard Thursday. He has been booked into the King County Jail. He’s expected to be arraigned Monday at King County Superior Court in Seattle.
“It’s rare that we have to go to these extremes to rein in a scammer,” said Washington Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler. “But Mr. Kolenda’s been thumbing his nose at regulators for years. Arresting him seems to be the only way to get his attention.”
In August, Kolenda was charged in King County Superior Court with five counts of transacting insurance without a license, a class B felony. His arraignment was slated for Sept. 5, but he failed to show up. A judge issued a bench warrant for Kolenda’s arrest.
On Sept. 26, Kolenda was arrested on the Washington bench warrant by police in Norwalk. He has been held since then in jail in Connecticut, pending extradition. His transfer to Washington was approved in November by Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy.
“I’m very grateful to everyone who’s helped us get Mr. Kolenda here to Washington to face justice,” said Kreidler. “He has a long history of selling illegal insurance and refusing to pay prize winners.” In some cases, charities have had to come up with the prize money that Kolenda refused to pay. In others, the prize winners agreed to forgo a prize.
Kolenda in 1995 started a business called Golf Marketing, working out of a home his parents owned in Norwalk. Since then, the business’ name has changed several times, including: Golf Marketing Worldwide LLC, Golf Marketing Inc., Hole-in-Won.com, and currently Hole-in-Won.com Worldwide. The company also has a regional office in Rye, N.Y.
Kolenda has repeatedly failed to pay winning golfers in Washington. Among them:
• In 2003, Kolenda illegally sold insurance for a tournament in Bremerton. But when a golfer got a hole in one and tried to claim the $10,000 prize, Kolenda wouldn’t pay.
• In 2004, Kolenda sold insurance for a Vancouver tournament. Again, a golfer got a hole in one. Kolenda refused to pay the $50,000 prize. After a hearing at which Kolenda failed to appear, he was ordered in 2008 to pay a $125,000 fine. He never did.
• In 2010, Kolenda sold coverage to pay $25,000 for a hole in one during a golf tournament in Snohomish. A player got a hole in one. His golf partners signed notarized forms attesting to the hole in one. The prize remains unpaid, despite numerous calls and emails from the partners and tournament officials.
Similar allegations have been made against Mr. Kolenda and/or his business in numerous other states, including Montana, Ohio, Georgia, California, New York, Hawaii, Alabama, Massachusetts, Florida, Connecticut and North Carolina.
A Blaine man who rear-ended another driver, rushed to buy insurance, then claimed that the crash happened afterward has pleaded guilty to insurance fraud.
Mark Traxler, 51, let his auto insurance lapse in January because he didn't pay the premium.
Two weeks after his coverage ended, he hit a car in Bellingham, causing more than $5,000 in damage.
He immediately went to his insurance agent and paid for new coverage. By nightfall, the other driver had made a claim against his policy.
The problem: Traxler said that the accident happened after he'd bought the coverage, when a 9-1-1 call placed by the other driver indicated that it happened before.
Traxler today pleaded guilty in Whatcom County Superior Court. He was sentenced to 364 days in jail, but 354 were suspended on the conditions that he do 80 hours of community service, pay a $250 crime victim penalty assessment, a $200 filing fee and a $500 fine.
We're recruiting to fill one permanent position for a market analyst in our Tumwater, Wash. building.
The person will be responsible for conducting market analysis of regulated entities (e.g. insurance companies) under the direction of our chief market analyst. We provide regulatory oversight of market interactions between consumers and companies, in order to protect consumers and promote a healthy business environment.
For more than a year now, we've been working hard behind the scenes developing an easier-to-use website. While insurance industry professionals -- agents, brokers and insurers -- are familiar with navigating our site, testing showed that consumers could only complete site-related tasks about a third of the time. That's a problem, obviously, when a key part of our mission is informing and protecting consumers.
So we've revised the navigational structure of the site to make it a lot more intuitive. For years, for example, much of the navigational structure on the site simply mirrored the agency's organizational chart, rather than putting things where average users would expect them to be.
Along the way, we've repeatedly tested the changes on both consumers and industry professionals to make sure that we really are improving things, rather than just changing them.
The upshot: Successful task completion on the website for consumers, which is about 33 percent on our current website, rises to nearly 80 percent on our new prototype website, pictured below.
We're also changing the look and feel of the site to update it. The site isn't live yet, but we're expecting to make the change in mid-January.
There will inevitably be some hiccups and things we'll need to fix, but we think you'll like the new site better. And we know it will be easier to use.
"On October 3, 2012, a portion of our computer network that is used by Nationwide Insurance and Allied Insurance was criminally intruded upon by an unidentified perpetrator. We discovered the attack that day, and took immediate steps to contain the intrusion," Nationwide attorney Samuel Lee notified our office recently.
The company has said that more than 1.1 million people's personal information may have been affected. Some of them are not Nationwide customers. Apparently, some people who might have just gotten quotes, etc. are on the list of those who may have been affected. We've been contacted by some of these people, and since they're not Nationwide customers, they initially think the letter is some kind of scam or sales pitch for ID theft services.
"Although we are still investigating the incident, our initial analysis has indicated that the compromised information included individuals’ name and some combination of their Social Security number, driver’s license number and/or their date of birth and possibly their marital status, gender, and occupation, and the name and address of their employer," Lee wrote.
The attack was reported to law enforcement, including the FBI, who are investigating. Nationwide is sending notification letters to 20,916 people whose personal information may have been compromised. The company says it is tightening network security. It is also offering a year of free credit monitoring and identity theft protection services to those 20,916 people.
In the letter being sent out, the company apologizes for the data breach and says "we are not aware of any misuse of your information at this time."
Nationwide customers should watch for a letter in the mail, or they can call a special hotline the company has set up: 1-800-760-1125.
Again, we can't say it enough: Homeowners and businesses in flood-prone areas should make sure they have adequate flood coverage.
“Standard homeowners or business policies do not cover flooding,” said Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler. “It’s tragic when people don’t discover that until it’s too late.”
The federally-run National Flood Insurance Program (www.floodsmart.gov) is the first stop for most people seeking flood coverage. The program was created by Congress in 1968. It offers flood insurance to homeowners, renters and business owners in communities that have taken certain steps to help reduce the risk of flooding. There is a 30-day waiting period for most policies, so it’s important not to delay.
Many insurance agents offer National Flood Insurance Program policies. The average NFIP policy costs about $600 a year.
“Renters should also strongly consider flood coverage for their belongings,” Kreidler said. “That coverage, which starts at $49 a year, is inexpensive. Replacing your stuff is not.”
Mortgage lenders in flood-prone areas typically require flood coverage. But homeowners often later let that coverage lapse.
The National Flood Insurance Program website has online tools to estimate the flood risk at a particular address, as well as damage estimates from different flood levels.