May 17, 2012 9:25 PM by Melissa Anderson (KXLH Helena)
HELENA- 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 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.
Montana Commissioner of Securities and Insurance (CSI), Monica Lindeen, has now charged Kolenda with felony insurance fraud and misdemeanor selling insurance without a license.
Court documents filed by the CSI allege that Kolenda took nearly $1,000 in premiums from the tournament's sponsor with no intention of covering the prize.
"Missoula authorities sent this case to our office because it's insurance related last fall and we've been investigating it and we actually have been trying to talk to the CEO of the company about resolving the issue all winter long. He refused to return our calls and so finally we went to the Missoula District Court and filed charges and they have issued a warrant for his arrest," Lindeen said.
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 that 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.
The Connecticut Insurance Commissioner fined Kolenda in 2009 more than $5.9 million for selling insurance without a license, false representation of insurance products, and unfair insurance practices.
The Hole-In-Won website now carries this message: "the hole-in-one or other prize covered contracts of Hole-in-won, Hole-in-won.com, Hole-in worldwide or Kevin Kolenda are not available in the state of Connecticut or to Connecticut residents".