Update, 1:20 p.m.: Cruise Week has issued a clarification to its initial story. The state of Florida has issued to several Florida agents a notice of intent to issue a cease and desist order from selling travel insurance -- not from selling cruises or other travel products. We'll keep you posted on this developing story.
According to Elliott.org, travel columnist Chris Elliott's Web site, and cruise industry publication Cruise Week, the state of Florida has issued to several Florida agents a notice of intent to issue a cease and desist order from selling travel insurance. The companies are said to have been selling unlicensed insurance policies offered by various companies owned by travel industry veteran Jerry Watson -- most recently Prime Travel Protection, which has gone out of business.
The three companies referenced are Vacation Superstore (Port St. Lucie), which operates Bestpricecruises.com; Legendary Journeys (Sarasota); and Palm Coast Travel (Boca Raton), which runs Smartcruiser.com. In separate filings, Florida's Department of Financial Services alleges that the agencies do not have a license to sell insurance. Also alleged, as mentioned above, is that the agencies sold policies via an unlicensed insurer.
The actual filings, copies of which are linked from Elliott.org, are entitled "Notice of Intent to Issue Cease and Desist Order," which indicates that the actual cease and desist has not yet been issued. The notices, dated March 5, give each company 21 days to contest the action.
At press time, all appear to be conducting business as usual -- Web sites and call centers are up and operational.
Cruise Critic is investigating, so stay tuned for more information.
--by Dan Askin, Associate Editor, and Melissa Baldwin Paloti, Managing Editor
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Update: Florida Alleges Travel Agencies Sold Unlicensed Insurance
March 12, 2009