Trump Insurance Fraud Investigators Seek Decade Worth of Broker Records

N.Y. regulators have subpoenaed Aon, seeking all materials related to insurance placements for Trump and the Trump Organization.
By: | March 6, 2019 • 3 min read

Photo: Gage Skidmore, Creative Commons

On the heels of testimony by the president’s former lawyer Michael Cohen, the insurance industry has been dragged into the legal and political intrigue swirling around the White House.

In Case You Missed It …

Michael Cohen, the President’s former lawyer and self-described “fixer” was questioned for three days last week by the House Oversight Committee regarding the president’s connections with Russia, alleged hush money paid on Trump’s behalf to a former porn star, and Cohen’s role in Trump’s financial dealings.

What Does Insurance Have to Do With It?

Freshman Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) questioned Cohen on Feb. 27 about whether Trump had ever inflated his assets when reporting to insurance companies. Cohen responded in the affirmative, suggesting that misrepresentations had been made at Trump’s direction to an insurer, as well as to Deutsche Bank and the IRS.

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As of yet, it remains unclear whether the insurance misrepresentation in question was related to a policy placement or a claim.

On Monday, New York State Department of Financial Services (DOFS) subpoenaed Aon, the president’s long-time insurance broker, requesting documents related to the president’s insurance contracts.

The nine-page subpoena requests “a broad range of materials regarding Aon’s business with Mr. Trump and the Trump Organization dating back to 2009,” according to a New York Times source.

What Do They Want?

The New York regulators are requesting copies of the insurance policies ultimately issued to Trump and the Trump Organization, as well as applications and financial statements used to secure the policies. They’re seeking copies of all communications between Aon and Trump and the Trump Organization, records of all contracts and agreements between Aon and Trump, and also records of compensation for current and former Aon employees who have handled Trump or Trump Organization accounts.

The subpoena requests that Aon submit all documentation by March 19. Regulators could then issue additional subpoenas or requests to underwriters and potentially other companies or individuals identified in response to the subpoena.

There have been no suggestions by regulators that Aon engaged in any wrongdoing. Aon has confirmed that the subpoena was received, and stated its intention to cooperate fully with N.Y. regulators.

The DOFS inquiry could lead to a referral to prosecutors of any potential insurance fraud the president may have committed by misrepresenting his finances. DOFS can also issue fines against companies and individuals it regulates.

Is There More to the Story?

Trump has dismissed regulators’ inquiries as politically motivated. Some have suggested that the targeted questions surrounding Trump’s finances are a strategic ploy to force the release of Trump’s tax returns for the past 10 years.

But regardless, investigators aren’t about to look a gift horse in the mouth. If investigators secure valid evidence to support a charge of bank, tax or insurance fraud, it’s likely to be pursued to the full extent of the law.

How Long Is This Going to Go On?

“We will act quickly to gather this information, assess the evidence and follow the facts where they lead with full transparency with the American people,” said Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, the Judiciary Committee chairman, in a public statement.

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But none of this is likely to happen quickly. It could take DOFS investigators several months to analyze all the information they collect.

Nadler’s office dispatched letters and requests for documentation to 81 agencies, individuals and other entities tied to Trump, including aides, family members, The Justice Department and the FBI.

As of December, there were at least 17 known investigations into Trump’s activities, led by U.S. attorneys from the Southern District of New York, D.C., and Virginia, the State of New York, several state attorney generals, and the Mueller investigation. &

Michelle Kerr is associate editor of Risk & Insurance. She can be reached at [email protected]

4 Companies That Rocked It by Treating Injured Workers as Equals; Not Adversaries

The 2018 Teddy Award winners built their programs around people, not claims, and offer proof that a worker-centric approach is a smarter way to operate.
By: | October 30, 2018 • 3 min read

Across the workers’ compensation industry, the concept of a worker advocacy model has been around for a while, but has only seen notable adoption in recent years.

Even among those not adopting a formal advocacy approach, mindsets are shifting. Formerly claims-centric programs are becoming worker-centric and it’s a win all around: better outcomes; greater productivity; safer, healthier employees and a stronger bottom line.

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That’s what you’ll see in this month’s issue of Risk & Insurance® when you read the profiles of the four recipients of the 2018 Theodore Roosevelt Workers’ Compensation and Disability Management Award, sponsored by PMA Companies. These four programs put workers front and center in everything they do.

“We were focused on building up a program with an eye on our partner experience. Cost was at the bottom of the list. Doing a better job by our partners was at the top,” said Steve Legg, director of risk management for Starbucks.

Starbucks put claims reporting in the hands of its partners, an exemplary act of trust. The coffee company also put itself in workers’ shoes to identify and remove points of friction.

That led to a call center run by Starbucks’ TPA and a dedicated telephonic case management team so that partners can speak to a live person without the frustration of ‘phone tag’ and unanswered questions.

“We were focused on building up a program with an eye on our partner experience. Cost was at the bottom of the list. Doing a better job by our partners was at the top.” — Steve Legg, director of risk management, Starbucks

Starbucks also implemented direct deposit for lost-time pay, eliminating stressful wait times for injured partners, and allowing them to focus on healing.

For Starbucks, as for all of the 2018 Teddy Award winners, the approach is netting measurable results. With higher partner satisfaction, it has seen a 50 percent decrease in litigation.

Teddy winner Main Line Health (MLH) adopted worker advocacy in a way that goes far beyond claims.

Employees who identify and report safety hazards can take credit for their actions by sending out a formal “Employee Safety Message” to nearly 11,000 mailboxes across the organization.

“The recognition is pretty cool,” said Steve Besack, system director, claims management and workers’ compensation for the health system.

MLH also takes a non-adversarial approach to workers with repeat injuries, seeing them as a resource for identifying areas of improvement.

“When you look at ‘repeat offenders’ in an unconventional way, they’re a great asset to the program, not a liability,” said Mike Miller, manager, workers’ compensation and employee safety for MLH.

Teddy winner Monmouth County, N.J. utilizes high-tech motion capture technology to reduce the chance of placing new hires in jobs that are likely to hurt them.

Monmouth County also adopted numerous wellness initiatives that help workers manage their weight and improve their wellbeing overall.

“You should see the looks on their faces when their cholesterol is down, they’ve lost weight and their blood sugar is better. We’ve had people lose 30 and 40 pounds,” said William McGuane, the county’s manager of benefits and workers’ compensation.

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Do these sound like minor program elements? The math says otherwise: Claims severity has plunged from $5.5 million in 2009 to $1.3 million in 2017.

At the University of Pennsylvania, putting workers first means getting out from behind the desk and finding out what each one of them is tasked with, day in, day out — and looking for ways to make each of those tasks safer.

Regular observations across the sprawling campus have resulted in a phenomenal number of process and equipment changes that seem simple on their own, but in combination have created a substantially safer, healthier campus and improved employee morale.

UPenn’s workers’ comp costs, in the seven-digit figures in 2009, have been virtually cut in half.

Risk & Insurance® is proud to honor the work of these four organizations. We hope their stories inspire other organizations to be true partners with the employees they depend on. &

Michelle Kerr is associate editor of Risk & Insurance. She can be reached at [email protected]