Tuesday, September 16, 2014

OIC orders unlicensed golf tournament insurer to stop doing business in Washington

Yesterday, the OIC ordered L & B Enterprises Inc., also called Tournament Pros, to immediately stop selling insurance in Washington state. Tournament Pros, based out of Maryland, has sold at least 18 insurance contracts for golf tournaments in our state since 2012 without being authorized to do so.

Golf tournaments often buy insurance to pay hole-in-one prizes or prizes for chipping or putting contests. These tournaments are popular fundraisers, as players pay an entry fee and fees to participate in contests.  

The OIC received a complaint after a May 2013 armed forces golf tournament at Bremerton's Cascade Course at Gold Mountain. The tournament organizer purchased a contract for a $10,000 hole-in-one prize on the 185-yard third hole, but a golf course employee mistakenly hung the prize sign on the 14th hole. According to the tournament sponsors, a sailor who had flown in from another state to participate in the tournament got a hole-in-one on hole 14, which was longer at 228 yards from the tips and more difficult. The tournament sponsor reported that it asked Tournament Pros to pay the prize; the company declined but offered to give the golfer $500. The tournament sponsor then complained to the OIC, and our legal team found out the insurer is not authorized to sell insurance in Washington. 

Tournament Pros has 90 days to request a hearing to contest the order. It also can choose to become an authorized insurance producer in Washington, at which point it would be allowed to continue to do business here.

In February 2014, a hole-in-one insurer who had been illegally doing business in Washington and had defrauded several charity golf tournaments and golfers was sentenced in King County Superior Court to $15,000 in restitution to his victims. Kevin Kolenda of Connecticut had been defrauding people in a handful of states for more than two decades and was extradited to Washington to face the charges.