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Local insurance agent under suspicion

Friday, September 12, 2008

BAINBRIDGE -- A Bainbridge insurance agent is the subject of an investigation by the Indiana Department of Insurance.

The IDOI suspended the license of Bradley K. Buchanan Thursday. Buchanan is the owner of Bright & Williamson Insurance Services II Inc., which does business under the name Buck Insurance Services. Buchanan's business address is listed in court documents as 114 Pat Rady Way West, W. U.S. 36, Bainbridge. His home address is listed as being in Greencastle.

"We have reason to believe (Buchanan) may have been keeping people's premiums and not starting their policies," said Ronda Ankney, an investigator with the IDOI. "We believe he may have been issuing false certificates of insurance."

An order for the emergency suspension of Buchanan's license to sell insurance will remain in effect for 90 days.

"That will give the department an opportunity to thoroughly investigate," Ankney said. "The investigation is, at this point, in the very early stages."

Buchanan, who incorporated Buck Insurance in 1991, opened the Bainbridge office earlier this year, he said. He was "blindsided" by the news of the investigation.

"I can't really say anything yet," he said. "I have all these lawyers, and I can't get a hold of any of them. I've been set sideways I did not see this coming. I'm just at such a loss."

Court documents allege Buchanan has "improperly withheld, misappropriated and/or converted to (his) own use money belonging to others received in the course of the practice as an insurance producer," "falsified insurance documents presented to clients and to the department," and "failed to timely provide information requested by the department." These allegations imply Buchanan was aware that an investigation was in the offing.

The IDOI has subpoenaed all documentation from Buchanan's business, including binders, applications, policies, certificates of insurance, premium receipts, premium deposit records, business bank account records and company appointment information.

The investigation into Buchanan's business practices has been going on for about a month, Ankney said. Consumers alerted the IDOI to possible improprieties.

"Complaints came into our office," Ankney said. "There are four open cases (alleging misconduct by Buchanan) in our office now. Those complaints made us concerned that there might be other victims."

No criminal charges have been filed against Buchanan at this time. Ankney said once her office wraps up the investigation, information will be forwarded to Putnam County Prosecutor Tim Bookwalter, and it will be up to his discretion how to proceed.

Ankney said anyone who believes they are insured through Buchanan's office should contact the corporate office listed on their insurance paperwork to verify that is the case.

Those who believe they are victims of fraud should call Bookwalter at 653-2724, and those who have questions or are unable to verify their insurance coverage should call the IDOI at (800) 622-4461.

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