FORSYTH — When you pay your insurance premium, you shouldn't have to worry about whether you're covered. But in Forsyth, many are finding they actually aren't covered, even after paying their premiums in full.
Kileen Hagadone, a Forsyth woman, had her insurance producer license temporarily suspended by Montana State Insurance Commissioner Troy Downing on April 6. Her insurance brokerage, Rosebud County Insurance, Inc. (RCII) in Forsyth, also had its license temporarily suspended. Downing determined public safety and welfare required an emergency suspension while an investigation into the matter takes place.
Court documents allege that Hagadone took payments from clients to cover insurance premiums but never directed them to the insurance provider. Downing's office alleged that Hagadone forged signatures and misappropriated hundreds of thousands of dollars from clients throughout Rosebud County, including Chief Dull Knife Community College in Lame Deer.
One of those caught up in the case was Rosebud County Sheriff Allen Fulton.
“I myself have done business with Rosebud County Insurance almost 20 years and never had a problem. Even if I got a cancellation notice in the mail, I would have called Kileen. And she would have taken care of it because she’s been a great agent. But, looks like things have caught up to her and now we’re in this position,” Fulton said on Tuesday. “It’s a total shock. I mean, in my case, I paid her money, she told the insurance company I was paid, and it sounds like they did not get the money from her."
The criminal case is now under investigation, and Hagadone has not been charged criminally.
MTN News reached out to Hagadone requesting an interview, which she declined, but she did provide a written statement: "I know there is an ongoing investigation and I am not allowed to say anything at this time."
Fulton told MTN News this whole insurance ordeal was brought to light just over a month ago on March 14, but he believes this problem has been going on for three to five years.
“About a month ago now, I was informed that there may be some problems with (Rosebud County Insurance). And at the time I’m like, you know, we got to make sure there’s a problem before we make a big deal out of it. And that’s kind of where the people were coming from too. Saying, ‘I paid her some money that’s supposed to be forwarded to the IRS and that didn’t happen,'" Fulton said. “Some people have reported that they had problems three to five years ago. But it was just a, ‘Hey I got a cancellation notice, it was taken care of.’ But this, as of recently, probably the last six months is when everything kind of really came out."
Fulton explained that since Forsyth is a small town, many did not want to believe what was happening with someone they trusted.
“It is (a small town), and that was the reluctance for people to come forward, because they didn’t want to believe there was a problem. And now that everything has kind of opened up, more people are coming forward saying, ‘I got this cancellation notice, I took care of it with Ki, now I found out I don’t have insurance coverage,’ so, that’s where we’re at with it,” Fulton said.
Fulton has personally worked with RCII for almost two decades and was recently informed by his insurance company that his premium had not been paid, although he remembers dropping off $900 in cash in February to Hagadone.
But Fulton doesn't consider himself a "victim" as many of the insurance companies have been very understanding throughout the situation.
"The insurance, my company, said I’m paid and covered. So they more or less didn’t get their money from Ki. So to me, they’re saying, ‘You’re good.’ And a lot of the insurance companies I’ve talked to have been great," Fulton said. "They said, ‘If you can prove that you paid, we are covering you.’ So people shouldn’t panic over that, we just need to know what is out there and what hasn’t been paid forward from Kileen."
Fulton met with two witnesses, named "Witness A" and "Witness B" in court documents, on March 14. The two witnesses were former employees of Rosebud County Insurance and expressed concerns about the day-to-day operations within the company. One of the witnesses recently left the company in March after claiming they had not been paid for the previous two pay cycles.
Downing's office is petitioning the case against Hagadone and Rosebud County Insurance. Rodney Harker and Bryan Stanley, investigators with Downing's office, were brought in to work in conjunction with the Rosebud County Sheriff's Office on the investigation.
Harker, Stanley, and Fulton interviewed several witnesses to build a civil case against Hagadone and RCII. While the full amount of insurance premiums not delivered has not yet been determined, Fulton believes the 30 victims they have already met with are just the beginning.
“Right now, I’m right around 30 (people) that I’ve spoken to, and I don’t think that’s even part of them. I think until people get a notice saying there’s a problem, or even if they had, they still don’t think there’s a problem. That’s why it’s important to call their insurance provider themselves,” Fulton said. “I would strongly encourage (clients) to talk to their insurance company and ask them if they’re currently insured. If they are, if they paid for a year’s worth of insurance, they need to make sure that their premium is for a year and not for a month. What we’re seeing is people have paid (Hagadone) for a year, and only monthly payments are being made (to insurers). So now there probably won’t be any payments being made, and I think we’ll have a lot more victims come forward."
According to documents filed in the civil case in state court based in Rosebud County, witnesses say they handed over thousands of dollars to Hagadone for insurance premiums only to find out those payments were never delivered, or only paid in part. One witness even claims Hagadone financed a loan in his name for a premium that he thought he had paid in full to a different insurance agency.
The witness was instructed by Hagadone on March 21 to pay a full premium of $4,290.41 policies on his shop and his company trucks, according to court documents. Four days later, he received a letter from a lender based in Spokane, Washington, stating his premium was financed, something to which he alleged never agreed, according to court documents.
The man told investigators he believed Hagadone forged his signature on the loan documents. The lender, Tepco Premium Finance Co., told him it believed he had signed loan documents and agreed to an interest rate of 14.97 percent, but he said he'd had no contact with them.
According to the letter from the lender, a down payment of only about $633 was made on the loan, and the signed agreement stated he needed to pay the remainder in monthly installments, court documents state.
The documents also state that the witness told investigators he believed his vehicle was insured by Progressive Auto Insurance, but he was told by Progressive it had no record of any premium ever delivered on his behalf.
One of the largest alleged victims in the ordeal is Chief Dull Knife College (CDKC). The school also gave Hagadone annual insurance premiums two years in a row totaling nearly $200,000 that were never delivered. Instead, the full amount was financed and monthly payments were agreed upon without the college's knowledge.
"The Lame Deer school, Chief Dull Knife College, has had two years' worth of premiums. So $100,000 and then another $100,000 roughly. And no coverage. No claims evidently,” Fulton said. "They paid close to $200,000 in premium that has never been forwarded."
According to court documents, Hagadone never deliver the college's full premium and instead forged loan documents for the roughly $200,000 owed for insurance in 2021 and 2022. The loan underwriter received a notice from Hagadone in December 2021 that the premiums would be financed, not directly paid by the college. Then in January 2022, the underwriter received a notice from the lender to cancel the policy due to nonpayment, even though the college did not know monthly loan payments were required.
The insurance company then canceled the college's policy on April 14, and Downing's office noted that Chief Dull Knife has been effectively uninsured for a year, according to court documents.
Fulton said those unknowingly uninsured evidently did not file any claims while this ordeal took place.
“Well, fortunately, if they didn’t have a claim, nobody knew any different. But the people that have since found there’s a problem, are now trying to pay to make sure they have insurance even though they’ve already paid," Fulton said. "So that’s going to be a financial impact. And that’s mostly businesses here in town, and ranchers and farmers. They have been saying, ‘I don’t care, I’m paying it, we’re sorting it out.'"
And Fulton believes once more learn of these allegations, additional victims will step forward. He urges any clients of Hagadone or RCII to contact their insurance provider directly to confirm the payment was delivered if they have paid a premium.
"Right now, it’s turning into the criminal end to see how much money people are out. And that’s what we’re trying to get to the bottom of, is to find out how much we’re talking here," Fulton said. "And trying to get people insured to make sure that we don’t have a claim and there’s no insurance to back it up."
If you believe you or your insurance were impacted, contact the Rosebud County Sheriff's Office at (406) 346-2715 or email Fulton at email@example.com.
“A lot of the earlier ones thought that it was just accounting mix-ups, payments didn’t get forwarded, whatever the case is," Fulton said, adding, "So it’s just unfortunate where we’re at with the deal."