Profits Are Where You Make Them
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On his 50th birthday Louie concluded he was a failure. For thirty years he sold insurance to the public. For a $40 commission Louie would often spend hours explaining a tenants’ homeowners policy to a client. The next year, because another broker promised to save the client $5 in premiums, they did not renew and he received no commission.
Louie had always been a dedicated and faithful insurance broker. He put his clients’ interest above his own. If he could save them money (even if it would cost him a commission) he placed them with the least expensive insurer. In return he saw nothing but derision and disloyalty.
Louie decided to change his life now that he was middle-aged and a member of the AARP. Considering his small earnings, retirement at age sixty-five seemed almost impossible. He needed a means to make sufficient money in a short time to retire. His knowledge of insurance and his salesman’s understanding of the greed of his customers brought him a solution.
EMPLOY IV YOU was born.
Louie went to each of his commercial insurance clients with his plan. He explained that if they allowed him to become the employer of their employees, the cost savings in benefit plans would offset his fee. The business’ overall employee cost, he explained, would be less. He would charge each customer 3% of the gross salary of each employee and the actual cost of their benefits. For the 3% fee, he would file all employment forms and issue W-4 and W-2 forms; collect from his customers all employment taxes and pass them to the government; fill out all the forms and give each employee a “cafeteria” plan of benefits. The employees would be happy and the employers would be happy. The employer would have absolute control over the employees and Louie would merely be their titular employer.
Although the idea sounded too good to be true, 80% of his customers decided to take Louie up on the proposition.
EMPLOY IV YOU then applied for, and obtained, a workers’ compensation insurance policy for all of its employees. Louie, being a frugal man, advised the workers’ compensation insurer that he had 400 employees all working in a clerical capacity (the lowest workers’ compensation rate available).
Other than paying the premium that he obtained in advance from each of his clients, Louie’s only other expense was issuing pay checks. A payroll service charged him only $300 a month to issue all the checks and prepair the reports for him. He paid a bookkeeper only $8 an hour to take care of all the other bookkeeping requirements of his business. EMPLOY IV YOU made more profits in the first two months of business than Louie had made in any one of the last five years.
By the time Louie was fifty-five, he had invested his profits into a portfolio of stocks, bonds and mutual fund shares conservatively valued at $3,000,000. The earning from the portfolio would support Louie in comfort through his retirement.
EMPLOY IV YOU’s workers’ compensation insurer, on receiving Louie’s reports of earnings, reduced his premium each year. Louie used the “audits” to increase his profits for five years in a row.
On the fifth anniversary of the business, Louie’s 55th birthday, he decided he had made enough money and offered the business for sale to a legitimate employee leasing business. Louie took the $2,000,000 he received from the purchase, added to it the cash from the sale of his stock portfolio and moved it to Kingston, Jamaica.
He purchased a villa overlooking the sea and is living out his retirement happily.
Insurance fraud is an equal opportunity crime. It is committed by every race, religion, national origin, gender, sexual preference or occupation, even an insurance agent. It is a crime regardless of who commits the crime or how successful the criminal. A lack of investigation and unwarranted trust allowed Louie to successfully defraud multiple insures and those for whom he sold his services. When something, like Louie’s deal, seems to be too good to be true, it is.
(c) 2022 Barry Zalma & ClaimSchool, Inc.
Barry Zalma, Esq., CFE, now limits his practice to service as an insurance consultant specializing in insurance coverage, insurance claims handling, insurance bad faith and insurance fraud almost equally for insurers and policyholders. He practiced law in California for more than 44 years as an insurance coverage and claims handling lawyer and more than 54 years in the insurance business. He is available at http://www.zalma.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.
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