Louisiana Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon (Photo: Bob Lenox /The News-Star)

A Lafayette insurance company was hit with a cease and desist order from the Louisiana Department of Insurance, citing misappropriation of insurance premiums.

The state insurance agency alleges DSJ Insurance and its owner, Matthew Sias Jr., “misappropriated insurance premium on more than one occasion.” Investigators said DSJ accepted premium payments from multiple clients, but failed to remit their premiums, which led to a cancellation of their policies, according to a press release.

The department said MSJ and Sias have previously been issued regulatory actions for similar activity.

“Louisiana policyholders depend on agents to assist them in securing one of the most important purchases many of us will ever make and a breach of that trust will not be tolerated in Louisiana,” said Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon in a written statement. “I urge any consumers who have information about Mr. Sias or MSJ to come forward.”

According to the letter sent to MSJ, the cease and desist order prevents Sias from acting as an insurance producer in Louisiana. The state insurance agency has also suspended the agency’s license and is moving to revoke its Louisiana Insurance Producer license.

Sias, who ran for the Lafayette City Council in 2019, said the Louisiana Department of Insurance is required to issue the cease and desist order whenever two complaints are made in a year’s time. He said the two complaints have been addressed.

The first complaint, Sias said, came after the customer’s check was misplaced and after the client closed the policy. Sias said MSJ issued the customer a refund, and the complaint was closed.

For the second complaint, Sias said MSJ did not get a customer’s refund check to them in time. But the customer has been refunded, he said.

MSJ has 30 days to request an appeal.

MSJ was fined in January for a complaint made in Aug. 2019, which said that business mailed a customer’s property insurance premium check to the wrong address. When MSJ issued a refund to the customer, the check was returned for insufficient funds. The insurance business gave the customer a cashier’s check with the refund.

The business was fined $500 and suspended for 30 days for the August 2019 complaint.

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