“Like everyone, we need the state to take action against Prime Travel Protection”

Florida regulators today filed a revised notice of intent to issue a cease and desist order against Legendary Journeys, a Sarasota, Fla., travel agency, as part of its investigation into Prime Travel Protection. It appears to be the state’s biggest action against a single company, with 17 counts and half a million dollars in outstanding claims, according to a government report.

Internal report shows Palm Coast Travel had $27,787 in outstanding travel insurance claims

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.

Florida accuses three more travel agencies — wait, make that five more agencies — of selling unlicensed insurance

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.

What’s next for Palm Coast Travel? Here’s what happened to agencies that settled with regulators

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.

In a twist, Florida levels new charges against Palm Coast Travel

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.)

“This is just the beginning of a much larger investigation”

What do the recent intents to file cease and desist orders by Florida against three travel agencies — Vacation Superstore, Legendary Journeys and Palm Coast Travel — mean for travelers? I asked Barry Resnick, who has become something of an expert on the sale of unauthorized travel protection insurance plans. Resnick’s mother held a policy with Trip Assured, a Tennessee company that sold unauthorized trip protection plans, and I featured his comments in my MSNBC column last week.

Legendary Journeys apologizes for selling Prime Travel Protection policies, plans lawsuit against Watson

The state of Florida notified three large travel agencies earlier this week that insurance offered by Prime Travel Protection might be illegal. What does its actions mean for agencies and their customers, particularly those with policies underwritten by Prime Travel Protection and other companies owned by Jerry Watson? For an insider’s view, I turned to Al Ferguson, a vice president at Legendary Journeys, one of the agencies named in the orders.

Florida alleges travel agencies sold unauthorized insurance policies

Florida has warned three travel agencies that sold insurance policies offered by bankrupt Prime Travel Protection Services of Arvada, Colo., that its activities may run afoul of state statues. State authorities on March 5 issued an intent to order a cease and desist against Port St. Lucie, Fla.-based Vacation Superstore, which operates Best Price Cruises; Sarasota, Fla.-based Legendary Journeys and Lake Worth, Fla.-based Palm Coast Travel, which owns the site Smartcruiser.com.

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

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.”

“We lost our entire vacation”

Kay Schroll says she lost $6,820 — the price of two cruises — when she bought travel insurance through Legendary Journeys, but then had to cancel her vacations for health reasons. Her case is just one of many that have landed on my desk since the bankruptcy of Prime Travel Protection, the Colorado company that offered these unlicensed policies.

Florida confirms “active and ongoing” investigation of travel agencies that sold Prime Travel Protection

Florida’s Department of Financial Services has confirmed it is investigating travel agencies that sold insurance underwritten by Prime Travel Protection, a Colorado company that filed for bankruptcy protection last month and left thousands of travelers uninsured.

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