Mobile home residents concerned about possible insurance fraud
Apr 18, 2011
The following article was posted to the WSSB ABC Channel 7 website on April 18, 2011:
Mobile Home Residents Concerned about Possible Insurance Fraud
By Josh Taylor
Insurance fraud is a big concern for some Suncoast residents these days. Possibly hundreds of mobile home owners in the Venice and Nokomis area may not have homeowners insurance they’ve been paying for.
That’s because the Florida Department of Financial Services has issued an order suspending the license of a local insurance agent, saying she may have pocketed premiums and never actually filed for the coverage.
The outside of Frances Bevevino’s Nokomis home looks as through the Easter bunny made a visit. It appears however her insurance agent may have been the one that laid an egg. “I am angry and I am scared.”
She and up to 50 of her neighbors in the Spanish Lakes community have just found out the money they forked over for insurance coverage may not have been used to protect them at all. In fact, she may have no coverage.
After talking with state officials, it doesn’t look good. “We have to do this, and then once they get the information and can see it, then they are going to go over it. I imagine they are getting this from everybody that is involved.”
Bevevino says it seemed like a good deal. She says insurance agent Debra Wanless, owner of Good Night Insurance in Nokomis, was offering full coverage at almost half of what they were previously paying — $645 a year. “She came down and spoke to our clubhouse in front of the whole place. I should have known better, it sounded too good to be true.”
Last week the Florida Department of Financial Services filed an emergency order against Wanless, claiming she may have kept the money for personal use and never placed the insurance. The insurance company’s office is locked, with just a sign out front saying contact your agent.
It’s believed residents from at least seven different mobile home parks may have been deceived — hundreds of potential clients. Some have been paying more than $1,000 a year for years.
Declaration paperwork received says “Lloyd’s London” not “Lloyd’s of London”. The latter says they have no knowledge of coverage.
“It was a shock to me. You pay for this and you think you are safe and then the rug gets pulled out from under you,” says Bevevino.
With hurricane season less than two months away, victims like Bevevino hope to get some answers soon. “I should have trusted my instinct in the beginning but I didn’t.”
This isn’t the first time Wanless has been in trouble. She was admonished in 2007 for the same thing, receiving probation and paying some restitution. Her legal representative did not return ABC 7’s phone calls Monday afternoon.
If you think you may be a victim, the Florida Department of Financial Services has a phone number you can call — 1-877-MY-FL-CFO. Or you can visit www.myfloridacfo.com.