On July 31, 2018, Bryan Provencher, 48, of Hudson, New Hampshire, finished his day at the insurance agency he managed on Lakeview Avenue in Lowell. He called his wife and told her he was going to Boston, to earn some extra money from his part-time gig as an Uber driver. However, he never fired up his Uber app and did not return home that night.
Police call for information and wife’s post for information shared 35,000 times
When she could not reach her husband, Mrs. Provencher went to the police and put out requests on social media for any information about her husband’s whereabouts.
Since Mr. Provencher’s disappearance was so wholly unexpected, the police began an immediate investigation and put out a bulletin for any information on Mr. Provencher’s Honda Pilot with a New Hampshire license plates. They found that his cell phone last pinged a tower in Auburn, Massachusetts just after 8 p.m. July 31, but then went silent.
Mrs. Provencher posted on Facebook, asking for help in finding her husband. The post had over 35,000 shares
Social media posts start appearing, giving reasons why Mr. Provencher went missing
While Mrs. Provencher conducted her social media campaign and local TV news and local newspapers ran stories on Mr. Provencher’s seemingly unexplained disappearance, postings on social media started appearing with a different narrative.
Insured’s and friends of insureds began posting about customers of the agency Mr. Provencher managed who learned their insurance payment to the agency never made it to their insurers. Some insureds had found out their insurance had lapsed or never placed even though they had paid Mr. Provencher.
Mr. Provencher’s employer makes good on his defalcations
On August 14, 2018, the Division of Insurance opened its investigation based upon the numerous articles about Mr. Provencher’s disappearance and the reason for his departure after stealing insurance premiums from insureds he was dealing with as an insurance producer or as the manager of the Lowell agency owned by his employer, the Met Group, Inc.
Soon after, the agency’s attorney appeared at the Division to advise them about the corrective actions “taken by the agency to make whole the customers whose premiums [Mr. Provencher] had absconded with.”
Mr. Provencher found in Florida
Two weeks after he disappeared, Mr. Provencher was found in Florida by the police. He returned to Massachusetts and turned himself into the Dracut Police Department three weeks after he had left.
Police investigation leads to nine charges against Mr. Provencher including larceny and forgery
On November 19, 2018, after further investigation by the Lowell police, the Lowell District Court Clerk issued nine complaints against Mr. Provencher charging him with seven counts of larceny over $1,200.00 by false pretenses, four counts of larceny under $1,200.00 by false pretenses, and two complaints alleging forgery.
All the charges related to Mr. Provencher stealing insureds’ money that he had collected from them at the agency for payment to insurance companies or for forgery in cashing a return premium due to an insured.
The Division offers disgraced agent opportunity to surrender license and avoid fines
On August 12, 2019, the Division’s Special Investigation Unit concluded its investigation and offered Mr. Provencher the chance to avoid a formal hearing to revoke his license and likely fine him for his actions.
The Division proposed a settlement if Mr. Provencher agreed to waive his right to a public hearing, agreed to cease and desist from the conduct and agree to the revocation of all of his insurance producer licenses and gave Mr. Provencher up until September 3, 2019, to accept or reject the proposal. The Division advised that if he did not resolve the matter by that date, they would file an order to show cause including a request for revocation of his producer licenses and an order imposing any fines permitted by law.
Under M.G.L. c. 176D, § 7, the commissioner is authorized to assess fines of up to one thousand dollars “for each and every act or practice” that the commissioner finds are unfair or deceptive acts or practices in the business of insurance. In Mr. Provencher’s case, his conversion of premiums and related would practically have guaranteed the commissioner imposing the maximum fines allowed.
Mr. Provencher waives a hearing and surrenders his license and stipulates he will not work in Massachusetts in insurance
Mr. Provencher, on August 22, 2019, wisely accepted the proposed stipulation which provided that:
- Provencher’s insurance producer license is hereby immediately revoked by the Division. If Provencher is in possession of any Massachusetts insurance licenses, he shall attach them to this agreement.
- Provencher agrees to immediately cease and desist from conducting the business of insurance, including selling, soliciting or negotiating insurance, holding himself out as a licensed insurance producer, or otherwise acting as an insurance producer.
- Provencher is prohibited from soliciting, aiding in the placement, continuation, or negotiation of insurance policies or taking any action which may lead any person or entity to believe that Provencher is authorized in the Commonwealth to engage in the business of insurance in any capacity, including without limitation, acting as a licensed insurance producer, business entity producer, special insurance broker, public adjuster, insurance advisor, viatical loan provider, viatical broker, viatical settlement broker, viatical settlement provider, reinsurance intermediary broker, reinsurance intermediary manager, or any other licensed insurance professional.
- In accordance with M.G.L. c. 175, §166B and the terms of this Agreement, Provencher shall dispose of any and all interest (direct and indirect) he may have, including without limitation, as proprietor, partner, stockholder, officer, employee of any licensed insurance producer in the Commonwealth by September 3, 2019. (Emphasis in original).
- Provencher is prohibited from owning, managing, directing or being an employee, consultant or independent contractor, partner, director or officer, paid or unpaid, of any insurance related business in the Commonwealth. Provencher shall return to the Division any insurance producer license in his possession, custody or control.
- Except as expressly set forth in this Agreement, the failure of the Division at any time to require strict performance by Provencher of any terms, provisions, or conditions hereof shall in no way affect the right thereafter to enforce the same, nor shall the waiver by the Division of any breach of any of the terms, provisions, and conditions hereof be construed or deemed a waiver of any succeeding breach of any term, provision, or condition thereof.
- In the event that the Division finds that there has been a breach of any provision of this Agreement, the Division may, in its discretion, pursue any and all legal remedies permitted by the Massachusetts insurance laws as well as any other appropriate law of the Commonwealth.
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Provencher states that he fully understands the legal consequences of this agreement. The Division has provided Provencher with the opportunity to present this Agreement for review by an attorney of his choosing at his own expense and he agrees that he has had ample time to have an attorney review this Agreement. Provencher has carefully read this Agreement, understands the contents herein, freely and voluntarily assent to all of the terms and conditions hereof, and signs of his own free act.
On August 30, 2019, the Division entered the license surrender and revocation on its records.