CUSHING, Okla. – Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John Doak issued a cease and desist order to a former Oklahoma insurance agent in Cushing.
Investigators say Mark Lauderdale’s insurance license expired four years ago, but he continued to collect money for insurance policies. Officials say he failed to forward all the money to insurance companies, which left some of his clients without coverage for years.
“Scams like this are extremely upsetting,” said Doak. “We have people making their premium payments like they’re supposed to, thinking they’re protected from financial disaster, but in reality, they’re not. If a fire burns their home to the ground, they’ll be out on the street because the insurance policy they are paying for doesn’t actually exist. This is completely unacceptable.”
Lauderdale hasn’t had a valid insurance license since May 31, 2013. Despite not having a license, Lauderdale still advertised in the Cushing phone book.
However, authorities say he created false documents to convince his clients that they were insured when they were not.
Officials with the Oklahoma Insurance Department say Lauderdale admitted to having between 300 and 400 active clients, including a senior citizen activity center.
Now, Commissioner Doak is urging all of Lauderdale’s clients to call their insurance companies directly to confirm that their policies are legitimate. If not, you need to obtain the necessary coverage then contact the Oklahoma Insurance Department’s Anti-Fraud Division at (405) 522-6614.
Experts released the following tips for Oklahomans:
- Verify your agent is licensed at the department’s website
- Send the payment directly to the insurance company instead of the agent
- Be suspicious if your agent bills you for premium installments after your first payment. Your insurer should handle the billing.
- Buy coverage only after all documents are completely filled out and you fully understand the cost and what’s included.
- Never sign a blank insurance form or give your agent power of attorney to sign an insurance application for you.
- Get a copy of every document you sign.
- Contact the company if you have received a policy within 60 days of submitting your application.
- Make sure your company can pay claims.
Lauderdale was fined $5,000 in 2003 for misappropriation of insurance premiums and his license was suspended in 2013 when he failed to renew it.