A Ferriday insurance agent was arrested today in the latest investigation of alleged
insurance fraud across the state, Louisiana Insurance Commissioner Jim Brown confirmed.
Sharon Lee Hoover, 42, 207 Woodland, Ferriday, was arrested today in Natchez in
a collaborative effort between the La. State Police and Natchez Police on a warrant
issued in Tensas Parish. She was charged with felony theft, insurance fraud, misappropriation
of premium and exploitation of the infirm. In a subsequent action, Department of
Insurance Fraud Unit investigators served her with a Cease and Desist order. "The
suspect is alleged to have been accepting insurance premiums, but failing to issue
policies and pocketing the money," said Commissioner Brown.
Hoover allegedly misappropriated premium money from Watson and Grace Insurance Agency
of St. Joseph, La. She took money from clients and issued ID cards without forwarding
premium and applications to the insurance company, the charges allege. She is also
alleged to have provided fraudulent information to the Office of Motor Vehicles.
According to a State Police affidavit, there are 37 confirmed victims. Of these,
23 are between the ages of 65 and 93.
"Watson and Grace Insurance Agency took swift action to ensure that policyholders
were not harmed by Hoover's actions and that valid insurance coverage is provided
for everyone who bought insurance from her in good faith," Commissioner Brown
"The Watson and Grace Agency is to be commended for moving quickly and responsibly
to protect the public in this matter," he said.
Today's arrest is one of a series in the past several months involving the Department
of Insurance and the State Police Insurance Fraud Task Force, often in cooperation
with local authorities. "We expect to make more arrests in the coming months
as we continue our anti-fraud activities across the state," Brown said.
"The cooperation of the insurance industry as well as local law enforcement
is key to halting fraud and providing maximum protection to policyholders who are
victims of all types of insurance fraud," Brown said. "Insurance agents,
company officials and other insurance industry professionals are required by law
to report all suspected fraudulent insurance activity to the Department of Insurance
as the Watson and Grace Agency did in this case," said Brown.
"Insurance industry officials are also a necessary component of the Department's
efforts to stamp out claims fraud. Claims fraud in Louisiana for all lines of insurance
is estimated at $2.4 billion annually. Automobile insurance claims fraud alone is
estimated at $362.3 million a year," Brown said.
"Policyholders who bought insurance from Sharon Hoover should contact the Watson
and Grace agency or call the insurance company directly if they have concerns about
their insurance coverage. Anyone who has trouble reaching the agency or insurance
company can call the Louisiana Department of Insurance, at (225) 342-5900, or toll-free,
at 1-800-259-5300, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays for assistance," Brown said.