Colorado orders unlicensed firm to stop selling travel insurance


Colorado issued an emergency cease-and-desist order against Prime Travel Protection (PTP) and its principals, Jerry and Christine Watson, demanding that the unlicensed company cease selling insurance in the state.

Colorado's Division of Insurance said that PTP, for much of its existence, had obtained underwriting services from an unlicensed firm based in Vanuatu in the South Pacific.

PTP operated in Arvada, Colo., from February 2007 until late January 2009, when the company announced it would liquidate.

The cease-and-desist order addresses the liquidation, advising that PTP and its principals would be in violation if they attempted to resolve pending or future claims "with a fraudulent or unauthorized travel voucher or any other method that is illegal, unlawful or requires insurance licensure."

Colorado said it still receives numerous complaints and queries from consumers who bought the company's policies. One complaint from CruCon Cruise Outlet Plus in Moultonborough, N.H., alleged that PTP settled a claim with one consumer by issuing a voucher worth $1,405.

The voucher was good for the purchase of travel from the New Hampshire agency, but CruCon advised the state of Colorado that PTP was not authorized to issue any vouchers for purchases with the agency.

The Colorado Division of Insurance said it was unclear how claims would be handled going forward or how much money was available.

Aside from unpaid claims, there is the issue of consumers holding PTP policies that cover future trips. For example, about 200 Colorado residents bought the coverage, and 32 of those customers were scheduled to travel in February or later.

The state's 15-page cease-and-desist order outlined Jerry Watson’s history of association with unlicensed insurance sellers. He was a sales rep for Trip Assured in Crossville, Tenn., which received cease-and-desist orders in Tennessee and several other states.

Watson, "either solely or with others," in 2004 founded Vacation Protection Services, also in Crossville, which in 2007 was merged with another unlicensed travel insurance provider, Traveler Protection Services in Chicago. Those businesses were the subject of an agreed cease-and-desist order in Tennessee, signed by Watson in May 2008.

That order was issued after PTP had acquired the assets and assumed the liabilities of the merged operations in late 2007.

Separately, the state of Florida in March issued preliminary cease-and-desist orders against three Florida agents because they sold unlicensed PTP products and/or products of the other companies with which Watson has been associated.


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