That fake travel insurance story just won’t go away.
First I got sued by a travel agency for reporting on it, along with another customer. (Both cases were dismissed.)
Then their customers sued back. And now they’ve done it again.
A lawsuit was filed yesterday in United States District Court in Miami against Revelex, a booking engine used by agents, and two travel agencies, Legendary Journeys and Four Seasons Tours and Cruises. The suit, which seeks class action status, accuses some or all of the defendants of negligence, unfair and deceptive trade practices and unjust enrichment for their role in selling what the suit calls “bogus” travel insurance.
Here’s the full text of the complaint (PDF).
Read more “Another lawsuit filed in fake travel insurance case”
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.
As I reported earlier this week, Florida appeared to conclude its investigation with a surprise consent order against Revelex, an online booking company.
But now Revelex, as well as several individuals and travel agencies who are alleged to have been involved in the sale of these unlicensed insurance products are on the receiving end of a class action lawsuit (PDF) filed yesterday in Los Angeles Superior Court (case number BC447277).
The list of defendants is long, but it includes some names that will be familiar to readers of this site, including Prime Travel Protection, Smart Travel Group and Vacation Superstore Network, as well as their principals.
The case, which has been filed by Edwin Stewart Trebbe and seeks class action status, alleges certain companies named in his suit knowingly sold a “phony travel insurance policy”. Trebbe, a California resident, bought a Prime Travel Protection policy and claims that he suffered a loss covered under the terms of the plan “and has made a claim for benefits thereunder which has not been paid in full,” according to the complaint. Others are alleged to have been negligent in selling what they should have known was a phony product, the suit also says.
Read more “Victims of unlicensed travel insurance strike back in class action suit”
Remember Revelex, the Boca Raton, Fla.-based online booking company whose name came up a time or two during the Palm Coast Travel episode earlier this year?
Palm Coast Travel, you’ll recall, was fined $2,500 for selling unlicensed travel insurance through a company called Prime Travel Protection. Some observers alleged a connection between Revelex, Palm Coast Travel and Prime Travel Protection, although a link was never proven.
Well, this afternoon, a source with the state of Florida sent me a settlement agreement (PDF) that suggests there may have been a link between Revelex and Prime Travel Protection.
Read more “Revelex pays $12,500 after Florida accuses it of “aiding and abetting” Prime Travel Protection”
Florida’s campaign to stop unlicensed travel insurance appears to be at a crossroads. State regulators yesterday sent a two-count notice to Vacation Superstore Network/Best Price Cruises, with the by-now familiar charges: selling travel insurance without a required license, employing agents who didn’t have the necessary paperwork, and, of course, identifying customers who were affected by the alleged purchase of unlicensed insurance.
Here’s the document (PDF).
Read more “Prime Travel Protection investigation at crossroads after Vacation Superstore/Best Price Cruises filing”
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. Here’s the order (PDF). Unlike some of the other agencies affected by this scandal, Legendary Journeys has been candid about its role and eager to face its critics. So I asked Al Ferguson, a vice president at Legendary Journeys, to answer a few questions.
Why do you think the state decided to revise its intent to issue a cease and desist today?
The intent is unclear. I think there is even conflicting opinion in Tallahassee on this.
We have complied on anything asked and submitted a mountain of paperwork to support everything that occurred. The revision is the same notice [we received a year ago] to not sell Prime Travel Protection policies. We stopped doing that six months before the first intent was issued.
Read more ““Like everyone, we need the state to take action against Prime Travel Protection””
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.
Here’s Peter Lay’s motion (PDF); here’s mine (PDF).
Read more “Motions to dismiss Palm Coast Travel lawsuit filed with court”
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.
Under the agreement (PDF), which was signed today, Palm Coast Travel, which also does business online as Smartcruiser.com, has agreed to cease and desist selling unauthorized insurance and will pay a $2,500 fine as well as restitution to its customers affected by the purchase of an unauthorized insurance policy. It will be placed on 18 months’ probation and has agreed not to sell unauthorized insurance in the future.
The consent order is practically identical to a draft settlement agreement (PDF) that has been circulating between Palm Coast Travel and insurance regulators since last summer, and which I obtained after filing a public records request.
Read more “Palm Coast Travel fined $2,500 and placed on probation for selling unauthorized travel insurance”
Florida regulators this morning cracked down on two more travel agencies as part of their expanding investigation into illegal travel insurance. It brings the total number of companies charged with selling fake travel insurance to seven since January. More enforcement actions are believed to be on the way.
Notices of intent to issue a cease and desist orders were filed against Atlantis International Limited, a St. Petersburg, Fla., travel agency, and Cruises R Us of Plantation, Fla., which also used the name Cruisequick.com.
Here’s the paperwork for Atlantis International (PDF) and Cruises R Us (PDF).
Cruisequick is familiar to readers of this site. A few years ago, it allegedly sold another unauthorized travel policy to reader Don Filiault. His insurance company, Trip Assured, was later hit with a cease and desist order issued by several states, including California and Florida.
Read more “Palm Coast Travel gets more company as regulators crack down on Cruises R Us, Atlantis International”
A fresh round of public records released by the state of Florida’s Department of Financial Service this morning reveals the number of consumer complaints against travel agencies alleged to have sold illegal travel insurance, as well as the claims paid and their estimated value.
Palm Coast Travel had just three claims worth $27,787 — far below those of other large travel agencies such as Vacation Superstore (33 claims worth $131,061) and Legendary Journeys (174 claims worth $503,957). That figure suggests Palm Coast Travel, which also does business as Smartcruiser.com, aggressively moved to settle claims related to its alleged sale of illegal Prime Travel Protection products even before Florida regulators stepped in.
Read more “Internal report shows Palm Coast Travel had $27,787 in outstanding travel insurance claims”