Massachusetts Division of Insurance hearing officer, Jean Farrington, Esq., has entered an order revoking the Massachusetts producer licenses of Ryan Lewis and ordering him per General Laws Chapter 175, § 166B to dispose of any interests in Massachusetts as a proprietor, partner, stockholder, officer, or employee of any licensed insurance producer. The Division also fined Mr. Lewis $1,000 under General Laws Chapter 176D § 7, for providing false information on his license applications to the Division.
However, Hearing Office Farrington denied the Division’s additional requests for fines against Mr. Lewis based upon his failure to timely report final administrative actions against insurance licenses issued by other states within thirty days.
Mr. Lewis’ Missouri resident insurance producer license and SelectQuote connection
Ryan Lewis is a resident of Summit, Missouri. He has held a resident producer license from the State of Missouri since June 28, 2010. Notwithstanding his license troubles listed in the article, Missouri renewed his resident insurance producer license on June 29, 2020, for two years ending on June 28, 2022.
His Missouri license allows him to sell accident and health or sickness insurance, life insurance, variable life insurance, and variable annuities. His license information and his LinkedIn profile indicate that he presently works as a sales agent at SelectQuote Senior Insurance Services in Kansas City, Missouri.
Mr. Lewis’ nonresident producer problems in three states and Massachusetts
Mr. Lewis went to work for SelectQuote in May of 2015 and soon after that applied for nonresident producer licenses in several states, including Virginia, Wisconsin, Louisiana, and Massachusetts. Within a little more than two years, he began to have regulatory problems with his licenses.
In 2017, Mr. Lewis became the subject of a consumer complaint in Virginia concerning misrepresentations of the terms of an insurance policy he had sold.
On October 2, 2017, Mr. Lewis resolved the complaint by voluntarily surrendering his Virginia insurance producer license to that state’s Bureau of Insurance. The Settlement Order to which Mr. Lewis agreed stated in part:
The Bureau alleges that Lewis conducted sales on behalf of an insurer when he was not appointed to do so. In addition, the Bureau alleges that while acting as an insurance agent, he misrepresented the benefits of health insurance coverage to a Virginia consumer. When presented with the Bureau’s allegations, Lewis elected to voluntarily surrender his Virginia insurance licenses.
Mr. Lewis first became licensed as a Massachusetts nonresident insurance producer on July 29, 2015.
He renewed his Massachusetts license on November 1, 2017. As part of the renewal application, Mr. Lewis had to answer a question about whether there had been any administrative actions against any of his insurance licenses in any other state. Although Mr. Lewis submitted this renewal application on the twenty-ninth day of the thirty days, he still had to report the Virginia license surrender to Massachusetts. Instead he answered “No” to the question about his involvement in any administrative proceeding relating to a professional license.
Wisconsin, like Massachusetts, has a law that requires insurance producers licensed in that state to report any final administrative actions against them within thirty days of the final order.
On December 13, 2017, Mr. Lewis applied to renew his nonresident intermediary agent’s insurance license issued by the Wisconsin Commissioner of Insurance. On his renewal application, Mr. Lewis answered “No” to the question of whether he had ever been a party to an administrative action that he had not previously reported to the Commissioner.
The Wisconsin Office of the Commissioner of Insurance identified the misstatement on Mr. Lewis’ application and opened an administrative action against him for failing to report his Virginia license surrender and, thereby, making a false statement on his license renewal. The Commissioner’s Office entered an order on January 19, 2018, fining Mr. Lewis $1,000.00 and ordering him to timely report any further matters that legally required disclosure.
After Mr. Lewis did not pay the fine, the Wisconsin insurance commissioner began a new revocation proceeding against his insurance intermediary license. This proceeding ended with Mr. Lewis paying the $1,000.00 forfeiture and agreeing to revocation of all his Wisconsin insurance intermediary licenses effective August 31, 2018.
On October 18, 2018, Mr. Lewis uploaded information on the fine imposed by Wisconsin and his license revocation in that state to the National Insurance Producer Registry (NIPR) Attachments Warehouse for the Electronic Filing of Insurance Producer Licensing Documents. The Louisiana Department of Insurance made three requests to Mr. Lewis about discrepancies in his NIPR report. After receiving no responses, The Louisiana Department imposed a $250.00 fine against Mr. Lewis.
The Division of Insurance’s show-cause order against Mr. Lewis
On June 26, 2019, the Massachusetts Division of Insurance (“Division”) initiated its administrative proceeding by an Order to Show Cause alleging that Mr. Lewis had failed to timely report to the Massachusetts insurance commissioner three administrative actions taken against his insurance licenses by other insurance licensing jurisdictions within thirty days as required by M.G.L. c. 175, § 162V(a)(9). The Division also alleged that Mr. Lewis had submitted his November 1, 2017 producer license renewal application in Massachusetts with an untrue answer about the existence of any administrative proceeding against any of his insurance licenses.
The Division show-cause order sought the revocation of Mr. Lewis’s Massachusetts producer licenses alleging that he had violated the provisions of M.G.L. c.175, §162R (a)(9) (“failing to report within thirty days administrative proceedings in other states”). The Division’s show-cause order alleged that Mr. Lewis failed to timely report to the Division the administrative actions surrendering his producer licenses in Virginia and Wisconsin and the fine imposed against him in Louisiana.
The Division’s Order to Show Cause acknowledged that Mr. Lewis had eventually reported the Virginia and Wisconsin administrative proceedings to Massachusetts. However, the Division alleged that Mr. Lewis did not make these reports within the thirty-day time limit prescribed in M.G.L. c. 175, §162V(a).
Mr. Lewis receives the show-cause order but does not respond
The Division served the show-cause order on Mr. Lewis by certified mail at both his home and business mailing address as appearing on the Division’s records. From the mailing to his home address, the Division received back a signed return receipt.
However, Mr. Lewis did not respond in any way to the Division’s show-cause order, and on September 13, 2019, the Division moved for entry of default and a summary decision in its favor.
After no agreement reached with Mr. Lewis, the Division has him defaulted
The Division held its summary decision motion in abeyance after Mr. Lewis contacted the Division’s counsel seeking to negotiate a resolution of the show-cause order’s charges short of a hearing. However, when the Division and Mr. Lewis could not agree on a satisfactory disposition, the Division renewed its motion on October 22, 2019, An order issued on October 23, advising Lewis to respond to the Motion by November 6 and scheduling a hearing for November 12, 2019. Neither Lewis nor any person representing him appeared at the November 12 hearing.
On the Division’s motion, the hearing officer entered a default against Mr. Lewis for failing to respond or appear.
Hearing officer adjudicates the show-cause order based on documentary evidence
After defaulting Mr. Lewis, the hearing officer proceeded to adjudicate the allegations of the show-cause order based on the Division’s documentary evidence. The exhibits making up this evidence included:
- The November 3, 2017 settlement order concerning the Virginia State Corporation Commission’s acceptance of the surrender Mr. Lewis’ Virginia insurance agent license based on the allegations against him.
- The Massachusetts application dated November 1, 2017, of Mr. Lewis’s to renew his producer license.
- The January 19, 2018 Wisconsin order fining Lewis for failure to comply with Wisconsin insurance laws and ordering future compliance.
- The August 30, 2018 settlement agreement between Mr. Lewis and the Wisconsin Commissioner of Insurance requiring Mr. Lewis to pay the previously imposed $1,000 fine and the revocation of his Wisconsin insurance intermediary authority effective August 30, 2018.
- The December 21, 2018 order of the Louisiana Department of Insurance fining Mr. Lewis $250 for his failure to respond to this Department’s requests for more information on the Wisconsin administrative actions.
Hearing officer denies sanctions on Mr. Lewis’ failure to report and violations of out-state insurance laws
Even though she had defaulted Mr. Lewis for failing to respond to the allegations in the Division’s show-cause order, the hearing officer did not accept them at face value.
On the Wisconsin documentary evidence, she noted that Massachusetts law, G.L. c. 175, § 162R (a)(9), only allows disciplinary action if the licensee fails to timely report the suspension or revocation in another state of a producer license. Here, the hearing officer found that while it was clear that in 2018 Wisconsin revoked Mr. Lewis’s “intermediary agent’s insurance license,” it was not clear that this intermediary license is the statutory equivalent to an insurance producer license. For that reason, she declined to impose discipline under §162R (a)(9).
As to Mr. Lewis violating G.L. c. 175, §162V(a) by failing to report the administrative actions taken by Virginia and Wisconsin within thirty days, the hearing officer found no actionable violations. She pointed out that the order settling the Virginia administrative action was made final on November 3, 2017, but that while Mr. Lewis did not report it to the Division within thirty days, he had reported it on December 14, 2017. Similarly, the Wisconsin order revoking Lewis’s license was executed by the Wisconsin Commissioner’s Office on September 4, 2018; Mr. Lewis did not report it with thirty days but had reported it to the Division on October 31.
The hearing officer acknowledged the Division’s position as accurate that Mr. Lewis did not report those two administrative actions to the Division within the thirty-day statutory time frame. However, since he had reported them within two months, the hearing officer exercised her discretion to find that: “On this record, it is reasonable to view Lewis’s delayed compliance with §162V(a) as technical violations.”
Since the Louisiana fine against Mr. Lewis did not involve the reporting of a license suspension or revocation, the hearing officer did not address it in her rulings.
The Division sought discipline in the show-cause order for the violations of “any insurance laws” per G.L. c. 175, § 162R(a)(2). The insurance laws the Division claimed he violated were those state laws identified in the Virginia, Wisconsin, and Louisiana orders. The hearing officer, consistent with her rulings in other revocation cases with similar charges ruled:
The Division does not seek to discipline [Mr.] Lewis under §162R (a)(2) for his alleged violations of Massachusetts law. I am not persuaded that it is appropriate to impose discipline on a Massachusetts licensee for violations of statutes in other jurisdictions when the record would have supported a claim that the respondent’s conduct violated parallel Massachusetts statutes.
A $1,000 fine imposed for a false statement made by Mr. Lewis on his 2017 renewal application
The hearing officer did, however, find that Mr. Lewis had violated G.L. c. 175, § 162R (a)(1), which punishes a licensee that has provided “incorrect, misleading, incomplete or materially untrue information on the license application.”
The hearing officer found that Mr. Lewis had, on his application submitted on November 1, 2017, to renew his Massachusetts nonresident producer license, answered “No” to the question about his involvement in an administrative proceeding relating to a professional license.
The evidence submitted from the Virginia proceedings against Mr. Lewis showed that on October 2, 2017, Mr. Lewis had signed a voluntary surrender document for his insurance producer license in that state to avoid a revocation hearing. Although the actual settlement order did not enter on the Virginia Insurance Bureau’s docket until November 3, 2017, Mr. Lewis had a duty to disclose it on his Massachusetts renewal application.
The hearing officer found that Mr. Lewis’ failure to comply with that provision, § 162R(a)(1), by honestly disclosing the Virginia license surrender was a violation that deprived the Division of relevant information in assessing the merits of Mr. Lewis’ application to renew his insurance producer license.
Fine allowed for failure to disclose but fines for other violations denied
The Division requested fines against Mr. Lewis for all the violations alleged in the show-cause order.
On the Division’s failure to report and violation of “any insurance laws” claims, the hearing officer refused to impose fines because she had already decided there were no actionable violations on those claims by the Division. However, on the violation of G.L. c. 175, § 162R(a)(1) for providing “incorrect, misleading, incomplete or materially untrue information” on an application for an insurance license, the hearing officer imposed the maximum fine allowed of $1,000.
Hearing officer Jean Farrington’s Final Orders
ORDERED: That any and all insurance producer licenses issued to Ryan Lewis by the Division are hereby revoked; and it is
FURTHER ORDERED: that Ryan Lewis shall return to the Division any licenses in his possession, custody, or control; and it is
FURTHER ORDERED: that Ryan Lewis is, from the date of this order, prohibited from directly or indirectly transacting any insurance business in or acquiring,
in any capacity whatsoever, any insurance business in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts; and it is
FURTHER ORDERED: that Ryan Lewis shall comply with the provisions of Chapter 175, §166B and dispose of any and all interests in Massachusetts as proprietor, partner, stockholder, officer, or employee of any licensed insurance producer; and it is
FURTHER ORDERED: that Ryan Lewis shall cease and desist from the conduct that gave rise to this Order to Show Cause; and it is
FURTHER ORDERED: that Ryan Lewis shall pay a fine of One Thousand Dollars ($1,000.00) to the Division within days of the entry of this order.