Investigations of Prime Travel Protection, travel agents coming “to a head”

By | March 3rd, 2009

Authorities in two states appear poised to take enforcement action against Prime Travel Protection and travel agents who sold its policies.

“There’s an ongoing investigation,” says Chris Lines, a legislative liaison for Colorado’s regulatory agencies. “We expect it will come to a head in a matter of weeks.”

The state of Florida, which is looking at travel agencies that sold Prime Travel Protection policies — a product it considers unlicensed insurance — may be even closer to taking action.

Two more state agencies, Florida’s Office of Consumer Regulation and the Division of Insurance Fraud, have now joined its investigation. The involvement of the latter agency increases the likelihood that criminal charges will be filed.

The Federal Trade Commission, the agency created to investigate and eliminate unfair and deceptive trade practices in business, also appears to be in the early stages of its own investigation. Numerous travelers report they have filed complaints with the FTC, and one high-level official at the agency has confirmed today that the agency is reviewing the grievances.

In a related development, last week’s letter to creditors that purporting to come from Prime Travel Protection’s trustees, appears to have misstated certain facts. A review of bankruptcy filings in United States Bankruptcy Court reveals no record of a filing by Jerry Watson, Prime Travel Protection’s principal, or of his company.

The next several days may prove to be interesting, not only for Prime Travel Protection policyholders, but also for agents who sold trip protection policies and Prime Travel Protection’s owners.

Update (3 p.m.): Colorado has followed up with a statement regarding possible actions it could take regarding Prime Travel Protection.

Prime Travel Protection and Universal Assurance Group, Ltd. were not licensed to conduct the business of insurance in Colorado, thus the Colorado Division of Insurance is only authorized by law to issue a cease and desist order.

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