Settlement Reached in Insurance Case Called "Misleading" - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

08/03/06

Settlement Reached in Insurance Case Called "Misleading"

Col. Lyle Cayce at podium, John Oxendine to left. Col. Lyle Cayce at podium, John Oxendine to left.

Hundreds of Fort Stewart soldiers scammed into a too-good-to-be-true insurance policy have good news tonight. After a two-year investigation, more than 90,000 soldiers nationwide will be getting refunds. It's about $70 million nationwide, and a chunk of that will be paid to soldiers in Georgia.

Some insurance companies are being accused of misleading soldiers into agreeing to bad insurance policy deals. It's not criminal, but some call it slimy business. And now, steps have been taken to keep these people off of military bases all over the country.

November 15, 2004, a dozen Fort Stewart soldiers met with Georgia Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine and Jacques and Diane Frihm, a couple they claim sold them life insurance policies after wining and dining them and feeding them financial investment mumbo jumbo.

"He started talking about their cars and all the money he had made that year," said one soldier.

"Quite frankly, we're offended," said Fort Benning's Col. Lyle Cayce.

It turns out the same practice was happening all over the country. Col. Cayce says a company called American Amicable, for which the Frihms worked, were the biggest offenders.

"Soldiers were promised they would be millionaires," he said. "The most a soldier would make when they retired is $64,000. The first year, they pay $1,200 and every penny goes to commissions. That's how bad the policies were."

"This is the same war profiteering we read about in history books," said Commissioner Oxendine. "It's just has a new face and a new look to it."

Oxendine says, since 2004, there has been a crackdown on these insurance companies. A settlement with American Amicable will pay back soldiers, and keep agents--many times posing as financial advisors--off military bases.

As for the Frihms, their license was revoked. "Mr. Frihm is not selling insurance on base, and not allowed to," said Oxendine. "If you are selling insurance, you are not going to take advantage of the men and women defending this country."

"He viewed at as war profiteering," said Col. Cayce. "I view it as despicable behavior."

And the soldiers? "They were mislead," said Col. Cayce. "That is the bottom line."

Many soldiers in Georgia have already been refunded their part of the settlement. Meanwhile, the investigation into other insurance companies continues.

If you'd like more information on the settlement, you can find the official news release at:

http://www.wtoc.com/Global/story.asp?S=5237241

Oxendine says Georgia led the way in this investigation, and now shady insurance companies engaging in slimy business practices will be banned from all military bases.

Reported by: Don Logana, dlogana@wtoc.com

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