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Wednesday, May 23, 2018
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State regulators: Insurance plan offered to Pasco school district may be illegal

LAND O’ LAKES — The Pasco County School District has cut off negotiations with a company that was offering free life insurance policies for all school employees.

Bill Olive and Mark Pollock of the Pollock Financial Group had presented the proposal in April, and at the time, one local insurance broker said the deal sounded “too good to be true.” This week the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation said the plan may be illegal.

Belinda Miller, general counsel to the state insurance agency, wrote Pasco School Board Chairwoman Alison Crumbley late Thursday to reveal the outcome of the agency’s investigation of Pollock Financial and the main players. She said the company began offering the “free life insurance” product to local governments in Florida as far back as 2012.

The proposal, which purports to carry a $50,000 life insurance policy for each employee, would actually pay benefits to an offshore trust held in the Cayman Islands.

“The Pasco School District has no guarantee of receiving any monies from the proposed arrangement,” she wrote.

Florida law prohibits anyone from procuring a life insurance policy on another individual “unless the benefits under such contract are payable to the individual insured or his or her personal representatives,” she wrote.

Miller also included background checks on Olive, Pollock and Rene Stuifzand, who was described as “the architect of this entire program” but has been sued multiple times for alleged fraud. She found that Stuifzand resigned from his previous job as a securities broker after his employer said he submitted forged documents to a lender and made false representations to an insurer in connection with fees charged to a client.

Both Stuifzand and Pollock filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in the last two years, she said.

In addition, Pollock Financial made a similar proposal to Gulf County School Board. Two men associated with the company signed consent orders earlier this year in Pennsylvania admitting they misrepresented the terms of the “Legacy Life” to two unions who took out group policies for their 1,000-plus members.

Olive said the “Legacy Life” insurance was an “old program” that they were no longer trying to sell, and that Pollock had switched its emphasis to a new “benefit stabilization program.” But the terms of that program still involved funding through “acquiring life insurance coverage on the lives of certain Pasco County employees,” according to documents provided to the regulatory office.

Olive reached out to Pasco Assistant Superintendent Ray Gadd by email Thursday to discuss the new proposal, but after reading Miller’s letter, Gadd was in no mood to continue discussions.

Gadd sent the following response late Thursday night:

“It is entirely possible that the new proposal could have merit. However, due to the constant changes in proposals, your shifting allegiance to various characters with purported expertise in the field and your failure to gain the trust and respect of staff and the board I am strongly recommending that you cease any further contact with our school system. I would be remiss if I did not point out that staff no longer trusts what you have to say or what you are proposing. This has been a long and arduous process that has yielded nothing of value with the possible exception that we are wiser from having met you. The school superintendent and board are public officials and you are of course free to contact them. My office, however, will not entertain any proposal from you or Pollack unless directed to do so by the superintendent.”

Pollock Financial released a statement Friday saying the principals behaved ethically and “believed that the program was lawful and would have been beneficial to the underfunded pension and benefit plans.” Olive said he would not attempt to sell either product in the state of Florida. “We’re going to walk away,” he said.

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