Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Insurers fined more than $580,000 in Washington in 2010

In 2010, we issued more than $580,000 in fines against insurers for a variety of violations, including illegal phone solicitation and overcharging customers.

The Doctor's Company, of Napa, Calif., for example, was fined $104,200 -- with $50,000 suspended -- for failing to file insurance rates with us prior to using those rates.

Metropolitan Casualty Insurance Co., of Warwick, R.I., and several related entities were fined $45,000 with $20,000 suspended after an examination found numerous problems with insurance documentation. Among the problems: $190,704 in overcharges to senior citizens. (The company also refunded the money to the affected policyholders.)

The point of the fines is to ensure that insurers follow the rules. This protects consumers and preserves a fair marketplace.

We should probably also point out that the money doesn't go to our agency. It's deposited in the state's general fund to pay for other state services. In 2009, fines totaled $407,600. A year earlier, the total was more than $1.2 million.

Here's a link to a list of our enforcement actions over the past six months.

And to search more than a decade's worth of past orders and fines -- including violations by agents and brokers -- check out this online lookup tool we built.

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