Family of insurance agents agrees to pay fines to keep licenses
Posted December 19, 2011
Updated December 20, 2011
Selma, N.C. — A family of insurance agents in Johnston County accused of violating state law have reached an agreement with the North Carolina Department of Insurance that requires them to pay fines in order to keep their insurance licenses.
A state audit in September alleged that Brad Cooper and his wife, Holly, overcharged customers at their two insurance companies by more than $60,000.
The Coopers bought Commercial and Farmers Insurance in Selma and Affordable Choice Insurance in Wendell from Holly Cooper's parents, Bill and Karen Honaker, who are accused of overcharging customers by more than $42,000.
The Honakers also sold an insurance agency in Clayton to their daughter, Holly Richardson, who is accused of overcharging clients by $9,000.
The Coopers, Richardson and the Honakers' son, Will Honaker, who owns Smithfield Insurance Agency, all use the parents' finance company, Premium Service Inc. of Selma, for billing, the audit states.
The Coopers, Honakers and Richardson all signed a settlement agreement with the Department of Insurance Monday, admitting they violated state insurance laws by charging service fees without the required disclosures and documentation.
Under that agreement, the Coopers will have to pay a $100,000 fine. Richardson and the Honakers were each fined $50,000. All the agents are also required to repay clients who make a written request for a refund.
If they comply with those terms, they can keep their insurance licenses, the agreement states.
None of the agents could be reached for comment.
A Spring Hope couple first reported suspicions about dealings with Brad Cooper to the Department of Insurance and Attorney General.
Janine and Kent Schroeder allege that Brad Cooper forged a signature on an insurance policy with a 25 percent interest rate. The couple said that they never would have agreed to such a high rate and, when Janine Schroeder went to Brad Cooper's office to take a look at the original document, she said the signature did not match her or her husband's handwriting.
She told WRAL Investigates in September that she confronted him right away.
"He forged our name and he knew he did," she said.
The couple did receive a refund for the $90 they overpaid.