NU Online News Service, April 25, 9:58 a.m. – Minnesota insurance regulators are warning consumers against buying health insurance from unlicensed agents and unlicensed agencies.

Minnesota Commerce Commissioner Jim Bernstein has issued a cease-and-desist order against Don Lowe & Associates, Cleveland, which is believed to be an insurance agency, and three agents who are said to work for the agency.

Bernstein is accusing the agency of trying to sell Medicare supplement insurance policies to Minnesota residents laid off from LTV Corp., Cleveland, without the proper approvals.

The Minnesota Commerce Department says it received a copy of a letter to the former LTV employees. The letter appeared to come from the “United Labor Agency” and Don Lowe & Associates. The mailing contains a policy application entitled “Seniors Choice-Senior Medical Insurance Plans” and offers a “Medicare Supplement/Prescription Drug Program.”

The application indicates that Monumental Life Insurance Company, Baltimore, is the insurer, but Monumental told the Minnesota department that it has not authorized Don Lowe & Associates to sell its policies, according to the Minnesota department.

In addition, Minnesota has not approved the Monumental Life Medicare supplement insurance policies for sale in Minnesota, the department says.

There is no evidence that anyone has actually bought the Don Lowe policies, department spokesman Bruce Gordon says.

The Don Lowe situation is an “atypical” situation in Minnesota, and Gordon says he suspects the unlicensed agents saw an opportunity to sell phony continuation of coverage to recently laid-off employees.