The Louisiana Department of Insurance (LDI) ordered New Orleans insurance agent Vilia Ann Ragas and her company, Citywide Insurance Agency, to stop their insurance business last week after Ragas failed to remit premiums she collected from clients.
At least two customers have been harmed by the scheme and LDI is concerned there may be others. Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon urges customers of Ragas and Citywide Insurance Agency to call their insurers directly to verify that the coverage they paid for is in place and contact LDI if they see a problem or have experienced anything unusual.
One Citywide Insurance customer discovered that she had no insurance coverage for most of 2021 after filing a complaint about Ragas with the Louisiana Department of Insurance (LDI) in November. Another customer learned that her homeowners insurance had been cancelled for non-payment of premium when she tried to file a claim for damage from Hurricane Ida.
On Dec. 3, LDI fraud investigators served cease and desist orders to Ragas and her agency, suspended their licenses, and issued them $5,000 in fines for violating the Louisiana Insurance Code. The license suspensions will become revocations in 30 days.
It wasn’t the first time Ragas had been sanctioned by the LDI. In 2006, Ragas and Citywide Insurance were issued cease and desist orders and summary suspensions for failing to remit premiums they had collected from clients. As a result, Ragas and Citywide Insurance paid fines and lost their licenses for six months. Ragas has been a licensed agent since 1989.
The current cases involve multiple instances of collecting money from clients and failing to purchase the insurance. In one case, Ragas issued a fake certificate of insurance from a company that wasn’t even writing policies in the area at the time.
For more details about the situation, read the order and notices here.
Ragas has 30 days from the date of notice to file an appeal. Action by the Louisiana Department of Insurance is not stayed by an appeal.
Source: Louisiana Department of Insurance
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