HELENA, Mont. – When Troy Peissig shot a hole-in-one at a Missoula Country Club golf tournament, he won a special $18,000 prize. But almost two years later and despite multiple witness accounts, Peissig hasn’t seen a dime of the prize money.
The tournament’s sponsor had purchased insurance to cover the prize payment from Hole-In-Won.com, a web-based company that markets itself as “the first golf insurance company on the Internet.” Seven months after Peissig shot his hole-in-one, however, the company’s CEO, Kevin Kolenda, denied the claim and refused to pay the prize money.
Last week, the Montana Commissioner of Securities and Insurance charged Kolenda with felony insurance fraud and misdemeanor selling insurance without a license. Court documents filed by the Commissioner allege Kolenda took nearly $1,000 in premiums from the tournament’s sponsor with no intention of covering the prize.
“Whether you’ve got life, auto, health, homeowners, or even golf insurance, my office is here to help you,” said Monica J. Lindeen, Montana’s Commissioner of Insurance. “Call my office before you buy and make sure you’re working with a reputable, licensed insurer. Choosing a licensed insurer can help you avoid companies where denying claims is par for the course.”
In his letter to the tournament sponsor denying the claim, Kolenda said the hole was too short, which violated the terms of the policy contract. Kolenda noted the Missoula Country Club’s standard score card lists the hole’s length at 130 yards, well below the 165 yards required by the contract.
In its complaint against Kolenda, the Missoula Country Club told investigators from the Missoula County Sheriff’s office that the hole was lengthened for the August 2010 tournament. Interviews with witnesses and satellite images reinforced the Club’s claim that the hole was long enough on the day of the tournament. Investigators say Kolenda ignored witness statements and evidence provided by the tournament host in denying Peissig’s prize money.
The Missoula District Court issued a warrant for Kolenda’s arrest last week at the request of the Commissioner’s office and the Missoula County Attorney.
In 2009, the Connecticut Insurance Commissioner fined Kolenda more than $5.9 million for selling insurance without a license, false representation of insurance products, and unfair insurance practices.
To learn more about the Hole-In-Won.com case or other legal actions at the Commissioner’s office, visit“csi.mt.gov/legal. To report suspected insurance fraud, call the Commissioner’s office at 1-800-332-6148.