The Missouri Department of Insurance has once again refused to renew the non-resident producer license of the owner of an Illinois managing general agency that has been able to continue operations despite having his license revoked or non-renewed previously in both Illinois and Missouri.
On Aug. 24, Missouri Insurance Director John M. Huff signed the order to non-renew the license of Todd Jeremy Fendler, owner of Northern Illinois Insurance Agency (operating as Northern Underwriting Managers, or NUM), based in Rockford, Ill.
NUM operates as a managing general agent in all states except Alaska, according to information on the company’s website.
The previous Illinois and Missouri revocation/non-renew orders allege that Fendler and his company had a pattern of wrongly debiting funds from client accounts electronically, via Automated Clearing House (ACH) withdrawals, without authorization. Accounts were allegedly debited even when premiums had previously been paid or the policy had been cancelled.
Fendler and his agency have been able to continue operating through legal maneuvers and appeals, however.
In July, Anjali Julka, a spokesperson for the Illinois Department of Insurance, confirmed that the licenses of NUM and Fendler had been revoked, but the revocation orders had been “stayed by operation of law” in that state.
Yaryna Klimchak, a spokesperson for the Missouri Department of Insurance, confirmed Fendler’s 2015 license non-renewal order had been held up in an administrative appeals process.
In Missouri, Fendler’s license was due to expire on Aug. 24, 2016. According to the Missouri order issued on Aug. 24, Fendler applied for license renewal on Aug. 23.
Surplus Market Solutions
In addition to citing numerous instances in which Fendler and NUM wrongly debited client accounts, over-charged clients and failed to submit premium payments to insurance companies, the Aug. 24 Missouri order alleges that Fender falsely applied for a non-resident license for a new company, Surplus Market Solutions LLC, using the license number and name of a former producer, Mark Traviranus. Traviranus is listed on the application as producer, applicant and sole owner of Surplus Market Solutions in Crystal Lake, Ill., the order alleges.
Traviranus previously held a non-resident producer license in Missouri and voluntarily surrendered his license in January 2016. The order states that while Traviranus in August 2014 “had explored the possibility of entering a business relationship with Fendler,” he ultimately decided against it and cut ties with Fendler in June 2015.
According to the Missouri order, Traviranus “had no idea he was supposedly the responsible producer or sole owner of Surplus Market Solutions,” and had not authorized Fendler or anyone else to submit a license application on his behalf.
Missouri discovered as of Aug. 1, 2016, that the 2016 annual report filed for Surplus Market Solutions lists the company’s address as 6090 Strathmoor Dr. #3 in Rockford, Ill., not in Crystal Lake, as is indicated in the license application. The Rockford address is the same as that listed for Fendler and NUM.
Additionally, the order states, Fendler, not Traviranus, was named in the annual report as the sole manager of Surplus Market Solutions.
The order alleges that not only did Fendler falsely submit the license application for SMS under Travinarus’ name without authorization, he “lied by omission” by doing so and by neglecting to “disclose the Illinois administrative action against him and Northern Illinois.”
NUM previously advertised with Insurance Journal and its affiliate, MyNewMarkets.com. IJ became aware of the situation with NUM via complaints submitted to both sites that mirror those described in the two orders of revocation issued by Illinois, which Insurance Journal obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, and Missouri’s non-renewal orders, which are accessible on the insurance department’s website.
Fendler confirmed in April that NUM operates “as an ACH only company.” NUM bills in two ways, he said. “We bill pay in full or via the ACH. So if we allow someone to do monthly payments, we’re going to do it via ACH.”
Fendler suggested at that time that customers who have submitted complaints have premiums that are past due and either don’t have the money or don’t want to pay.
“You have people complaining because they are angry, that doesn’t mean we’re guilty. Just because a there’s a bunch of them doing it at once doesn’t mean we’re guilty either,” he said.
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