For Immediate Release: December 1, 2010

High Point Businessman Charged with Insurance Fraud

RALEIGH -- Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin today announced the arrest of Bernd Barron Hess, 50, of 741 Spinning Wheel Point, High Point. He is charged with one count of willfully failing to pay group insurance premiums and failing to give proper notice to those insured of his intent to stop payment of premiums, in violation of North Carolina General Statutes, section 58-50-40.

Department of Insurance criminal investigators allege that Hess, the former president of ZMB Braun in Archdale, did not pay the premiums for the company’s group health insurance policy, resulting in United Healthcare cancelling the policy on Aug. 1, 2010. The five employees working at that location were allegedly not given 45 days written notice that the group health insurance was to be terminated, as is required by law.

Hess was arrested on Nov. 24 and released on a written notice to appear in court. He is scheduled to appear in court in Randolph County on Dec. 21.

United Healthcare was contacted, and all medical bills incurred by insureds of the group plan during the lapse in coverage have been paid.

The Department of Insurance employs 20 sworn law enforcement officers dedicated to investigating claims of insurance fraud. So far in 2010, these criminal investigators have seen more than 362 cases successfully closed with more than $20.4 million in restitution and recoveries, 71 criminal convictions and 111 arrests.

An estimated 10 cents of every dollar paid in premiums goes toward the payment of fraudulent claims. To report suspected fraud, contact the Department of Insurance Criminal Investigations Division at 919-807-6840. Callers may remain anonymous. Information is also available at www.ncdoi.com.

--NCDOI--