New York State
James J. Wrynn Superintendent of Insurance 25 Beaver Street New York, N.Y. 10004
|ISSUED 10/06/2010||FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
Cinergy Health Inc., a Florida-based insurance agent that advertised low cost health insurance plans on late night television, the Internet and through telemarketers, has been fined $500,000 for violations including misleading consumers into believing they were buying comprehensive health insurance, New York Insurance Superintendent James J. Wrynn announced today.
Instead, buyers received limited benefit health insurance plans also known as “mini-meds,” which normally provide substantially less than comprehensive hospital/medical coverage. When injury or illness occurred and consumers filed claims, many found that their claims were not covered, and they were left with large unpaid medical bills.
Cinergy and its sublicensee, Steven Trattner, settled with the Department, agreeing to the fine and to comply with a code of conduct setting strict standards for any future sales of limited medical benefit plans in New York.
“Having good health insurance can literally be a matter of life and death,” Wrynn said. “We will not allow unscrupulous marketing practices that prey on New Yorkers and their need for affordable health insurance. Medical bills are the leading cause of personal bankruptcy filings and consumers rightly want insurance protection from such expenses. But in seeking that protection, they should not be exposed to the type of misleading practices Cinergy demonstrated.”
Cinergy and Trattner agreed that among other violations of the Insurance Law, they had:
Used television commercials, advertisements and other marketing materials, that:
1. Failed to fairly and accurately disclose the limitations in the coverage;
2. Created the false impression in some individuals that the coverage was a substitute for major medical or other comprehensive health insurance coverage;
3. Did not adequately disclose the policy limits and exclusions for pre-existing conditions; and
4. Failed to prominently indicate the name and principal office location of the insurer underwriting the coverage, instead creating the incorrect impression that the coverage was being offered by “Cinergy Health.”
“These are egregious violations of the Insurance Law and of consumer rights,” Wrynn said. “To protect consumers in the future, Cinergy will have to follow a strict set of marketing standards that we have imposed.”
Under the standards imposed by the Department stipulation, Cinergy must:
Cinergy must also report detailed information on its New York sales of group health insurance to the Department every 90 days, and must take any additional steps necessary to prevent a reoccurrence of its previous violations.