Looks as if the unlicensed insurance scandal — that’s right, the one that got me sued for defamation earlier this year — isn’t over yet.
Florida’s campaign to stop unlicensed travel insurance appears to be at a crossroads. State regulators yesterday sent a two-count notice
I wanted to take a moment to say “thank you” for the support I’ve gotten from lawyers in the blogosphere after being hit with a frivolous defamation lawsuit from a Florida travel agency earlier this year.
It’s our turn. Almost three months after filing a lawsuit against one of its customers and me, our lawyers have answered Palm Coast Travel’s charges in two separate motions for dismissal.
Looks like Palm Coast Travel, the Boca Raton, Fla., agency accused by the state of Florida of selling unauthorized travel insurance, while at the same time trying to sue one of its own customers and me into silence, has quietly negotiated a settlement with insurance regulators.
A fresh round of public records released by the state of Florida’s Department of Financial Service this morning reveals a “medal count” of complaints against travel agencies alleged to have sold illegal travel insurance, as well as the number of claims and their estimated value.
Looks like Palm Coast Travel has company. Florida regulators have filed charges against three more travel agencies as part of their expanding probe of unlicensed insurance offered through defunct Prime Travel Protection.
Florida’s Department of Financial Services is in the early stages of a far-reaching investigation into the activities of Palm Coast
As I reported last week, Palm Coast Travel and its companies, including Smartcruiser.com, are headed to a hearing with a Florida administrative law judge to determine if it sold unlicensed travel insurance. This is an important story, because fake “trip protection” policies are known to have been sold to people across the country for years, potentially costing travelers millions of dollars in lost vacations.
Only a few weeks ago, Palm Coast Travel, one of three large travel agencies the state of Florida last year alleged had sold unlicensed insurance, seemed to have everything going for it. The state’s investigation into its activities appeared to have hit a dead end. The company, which runs the site Smartcruiser.com, had sued one of its customers and me in an effort to silence its critics. And it was issuing an average of one press release a week, touting its Better Business Bureau rating and obsession with customer service. But late last week, in an unexpected twist, Florida regulators filed an amended notice of intent to issue a cease and desist order with more detailed charges against Lake Worth, Fla.-based Smolinski and Associates, Inc., which, in addition to doing business as Palm Coast Travel and Smartcruiser.com, also operates under the name Smart Travel Group, Smart Cruiser Holdings and Tripsmart. Any way you read the latest allegations, it’s clear that Florida’s Department of Financial Services has no intention of letting this case fade away. (Here’s the first notice, for comparison purposes.)
Here we go again.