Local insurer speaks out after accusations of stealing premiums, leaving Ida victims without coverage

Local News

BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — Hurricane Ida damaged thousands of homes across Lousiana and the headache that comes from dealing with insurance companies is not uncommon. But three local homeowners say when they turned to their insurance company, Armor Insurance, they didn’t receive the coverage that they had allegedly paid for.

The Louisiana Department of Insurance (LDI) said an insurance agent in Baton Rouge, Trampus Wagoner, allegedly took money from clients for premiums but failed to actually purchase insurance policies or purchased “inadequate” insurance.

Wagoner has been given a cease-and-desist order, a revocation, and a fine to an East Baton Rouge Parish insurance producer for alleged misappropriation of premium funds. Over the phone, he said that two of the three cases were a mistake he made while on vacation.

“When they called me I was on vacation and I took their payments over the phone and when I returned from vacation I forgot to buy their policies,” Wagoner said.

According to the report, three of his clients were under the impression they were covered by his premium insurance plan. But when they turned to Wagoner after Ida, that’s when they realized they were not covered.

The third client was under the impression that his coverage included wind damage, but it was only after Hurricane Ida’s winds damaged his property he find out he was not covered.

“I was expecting a suspension due to incompetence, but I do understand that the Department of Insurance has a job to protect the public,” Wagoner said.

But LDI Commissioner Jim Donelon said that’s no excuse.

“This is an alarming situation that we take immediate action because it can be financially ruinous to a family, it can bankrupt a family,” Donelon said.

Wagoner said he paid restitution to two of the three clients.

“After their $5,000 deductible that was on the quote, I think their total damages were around $6,200 each, I gave them around $1,200 each plus I gave them an $800 tarp,” he said.

But Donelon appeared uncertain about Wagoner’s claim.

“That remains to be seen and the proof is in the pudding as they say,” Donelon said.

The clients attempted to file a claim through FEMA for financial assistance for the damages, according to the documents. When Wagoner failed to provide proper insurance documentation, the clients filed reports through LDI.

Because of the cease and desist, Wagoner can’t take on any new clients and will be facing a judge in the Division of Administrative Law.

“Just saying ‘I went on vacation and didn’t finish up my work before I left,’ I don’t think will convince the judge that he should lift the cease and desist,” Donelon said. “I think the judge, like us, will err on the side of protecting those policyholders from further harm.”

Wagoner said he plans to appear on the basis of intent. He explained that he never intentionally hurt his clients. He has a little over twenty days to submit his appeal.

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