July 11, 2013 | Volume 43, Number 27

Apollo medevac coverage falling off

The cost of a medevac flight to Juneau may be going way up.

Apollo Medi Trans, currently under investigation by the Alaska Division of Insurance, is prohibited from selling or renewing its low-cost insurance policies due to a lapsed license to operate in the state, said Marty Hester, deputy director of the Division of Insurance.

Hester said he believes AMT customers whose policies are active are safe for the time being. “If someone purchased a policy when the license was active, then the policy for them should still be honored.”

AMT president Eric Stirling said, “Anyone who is within their term limits is absolutely covered.”

The policies were offered on an annual basis. For reasons that neither the state nor Apollo could explain this week, the company’s license became inactive March 1.

AMT rose to local prominence by offering to cover the cost of medevac flights for about $100 annually. Without insurance, the bill for a medevac flight to Juneau can be $30,000 or more.

Last month, the state fined Apollo Medi Trans Association (AMTA) $20,000 after discovering the company was selling insurance without a certificate of authority, which qualifies as a “fraudulent or criminal insurance act” under Alaska law.

The document detailing the department’s decision, signed on June 21 by Apollo president Stirling, draws a distinction between AMT, which costs $125 a year, and AMTA, which costs $300 a year for coverage in the U.S. and includes several more services.

In addition to the fine, the division ordered AMTA to terminate all of its existing memberships in Alaska and refund all fees paid by Alaska residents since the company’s inception. According to the document, the program currently has about 20 Alaska members.

Neither AMT’s Stirling nor insurance division deputy director Hester would comment on a possible connection between the developments with the two companies.

In an interview Tuesday, Stirling would not elaborate on the difference between AMT and AMTA. “For me to comment to a paper about stuff with the Division of Insurance is not very smart for us at the moment. We still have an issue to resolve.”

Hester said the two entities are “separate and distinct,” and that the division’s order to terminate existing memberships and refund fees applies only to AMTA and not to AMT members.

The agreement with the state also stipulates that AMTA and Stirling “understand and agree that any failure to comply with the conditions of this agreement will be grounds to revoke, suspend, or not renew” AMT’s insurance license.

According to the settlement between AMTA and the division, AMTA was required to submit a report to the division on June 28 documenting the number of AMTA memberships terminated and the amount of the refunds made. Stirling and Hester each refused to provide a copy of the report.

Although the division maintains AMT’s license became inactive March 1, some Haines residents said recently they have renewed policies since then.

Fireman Al Badgley on Tuesday said he renewed policies for 48 Haines volunteer firefighters in May. “Right now if one of our members went, we’re assuming they’re going to get honored. If they don’t, I have a feeling that’s a possibility of a suit,” Badgley said.

State Rep. Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins, D-Sitka, looked into the matter this week. He said he was told by deputy director Hester that the state’s only punitive action involved AMTA and that AMT was repeatedly notified that its state license was about to expire.