The General Insurance Council of Manitoba published its decision to fine Dominic Anthony Albanese, operating agent of Optima Insurance Group, for allowing licensees with Optima to carry on business using the name of another agency and for allowing at least one individual to work as an agent without holding a general insurance license.
After having received a written complaint, during the course of their investigation, Insurance Council of Manitoba (ICM) staff completed an online application for a tenant’s package quote. The trade name of a second agency, dubbed Agency B in the council’s decision documents, was noted on the quote. Later that day, one individual contacted the staff member by telephone to discuss underwriting information in addition to that the applicant provided in the online quoting application. The individual identified herself using Agency B’s trade name during the conversation. This individual did not hold a general insurance agent’s license in Manitoba at the time. During the course of the ICM’s investigation, two agents, licensed with Optima but not licensed with Agency B, provided a quote and a follow-up phone call, using Agency B’s trade name. A list of policies quoted and written by Agency B also turned up two more agents under Albanese who were licensed with Optima but not with Agency B.
In their ICM license issuance emails, all four agents were advised that they were prohibited from conducting business under any names other than the one referenced on their license. In his own license renewal application, Albanese answered no to several questions about whether or not he and his licensees had used names other than those that had been approved and licensed by the ICM.
“While council understood that licensees often engage in business relations with other licensees for the sale and service of insurance products,” say the decision’s authors, they add that “the overt and repetitive use of (Agency B’s) trade name, when activity was carried out by the agency (Optima), was misleading and a violation of public policy; consumers are entitled to understand the entity with whom they are transacting business.” The council ultimately fined Albanese $6,000, and ordered him to pay partial investigation costs of $750.