DETROIT, MI – The state Department of Insurance and Financial Services has issued a cease and desist order to Monaco Motors at 15290 Gratiot Ave. in Detroit for selling unlicensed car insurance.
The DFIS says its investigation uncovered “multiple instances” in which Michigan drivers had bought what they thought was no-fault auto insurance with car purchases at Monaco Motors, which is run by Camillo Anthony Monaco and Darrell Lees.
“Monaco Motors acted as an unlicensed insurance agent, providing incorrect or misleading advice, insufficient or non-existent no-fault coverage, or simply failing to pay for the necessary policies and ultimately leaving the consumers without insurance,” the DFIS said in a release.
According to the DFIS, more than 25 Michigan residents bought insurance they believed to be auto coverage, but in many instances were instead signing off “Borrower’s Certificate of Insurance,” which protects lenders of the vehicle. The buyers were then unable to register their cars with the state.
The DFIS investigation stemmed from an inquiry by the Secretary of State.
“Selling insurance in this state without the proper authority is illegal,” DIFS Director Kevin Clinton said in a statement. “Consumers are urged to contact our office if they have any questions as to whether or not the person selling them insurance is properly licensed.”
The DFIS says its has handed the results of its investigation over to law enforcement agencies.
It is not immediately clear what rate or how extensive the coverage that Monaco Motors was allegedly selling to customers.
Detroit has some of the highest car insurance rates in the country. Insurance industry representatives say premiums in Michigan are driven by a lack of a limit on personal injury protection. Detroit then gets boosted to the top spot because of the side effects that come with driving in an urban area with a high crime rate.
The average annual auto premium in Detroit in 2011 was $5,941 – the highest in the country – according to a Runzheimer study, which based its findings on the cost of insuring a 2012 Chevrolet Malibu with average liability limits, collision and comprehensive with $500 deductibles, and any mandatory insurance coverage.
Rounding out the top three cities were Philadelphia, with an annual premium of $4,076, and New Orleans, with a $3,599 yearly premium.
The DFIS says consumers should ask sales personnel prior to buying auto insurance to see a license, and can check to verify an insurance agency’s legitimacy at www.michigan.gov/difs.