BALTIMORE - A state order from the Maryland Insurance Administration takes action, essentially removing the ability for a famed Baltimore insurance salesman to sell or provide insurance. The order, which is dated from October, but just released by the MIA, revokes Hal Katz's license as a surplus lines producer.
Katz, well-known in the Baltimore area for his outrageous commercials, had his license to sell and provide insurance back in October. That order involved Katz and his company, Katz Insurance Agency, which sold insurance to thousands of high risk drivers around Baltimore.
The most recent MIA order involves Katz's role as a surplus line producer. In Maryland, the state says surplus lines are written for personal policies like homeowners insurance in situations where traditional insurers consider the location too risky. Katz's license to sell or provide surplus lines has been revoked. The state says that means Katz and his agency are no longer authorized to sell any type of insurance in Maryland.
State records show Katz and his agency had the option to fight the revocation in a hearing with the Maryland Insurance Administration. The MIA says Katz withdrew the request.
But this latest order is the latest drama in a case that's unfolded over recent months. In August, ABC2 News learned, Katz's license to sell insurance was suspended and revoked, after the MIA discovered he was letting unlicensed agents sell policies. But that's just the beginning. MIA investigators also did some digging into financial practices within Katz's operations and turned up some shocking findings. Court filings show Katz, "knowingly committed fraudulent or dishonest practices in the insurance business; knowingly failed to or refused to pay over on demand money that belongs to an insurer; showed a lack of trustworthiness or competence to act as an insurance producer."
According to state records, Katz is involved in three businesses. He is the owner of the Katz Insurance Agency, a Reisterstown-based company, which sells policies. He also oversees Insurance Payment Plan, Inc., which provides financing for those who can't afford insurance. In addition, Katz is part owner of the Interstate Auto Insurance Company, Inc., which provides insurance. He owned the entire company until June 2012 when 50% of his stock was sold to another company, The Woodlands Financial Group.
The Maryland Insurance Administration, while investigating the Katz Insurance Agency, discovered $795,098 in premium payments made to the agency that had never made its way to Interstate. As a result, the insurance company was left in "hazardous conditions" with only just $70,000 to its name.
But that's not the only Katz company soured in this operation. Records show Insurance Payment Plan, Inc., which provided loans to insurance customers, was fronted in large part by creditors. Those creditors, records show, are owed more than $8.5 million by IPP. A group of those angry investors have filed a civil lawsuit in Baltimore County against Katz, claiming he "orchestrated an ongoing fraudulent scheme to divert monies from IPP for the benefit of himself and/or other entities he controls by concealing and assigning IPP's assets to the detriment of its creditors."
Hal Katz refused comment for our previous stories, telling ABC2 pending litigation keeps him from speaking about this situation.