WA IC Levies $360,000 In Fines Against Insurers

                               Olympia, WA (CompNewsNetwork) - Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler issued $360,000 in fines in the first quarter of 2010. He also revoked the licenses of two insurance agents.

“It's important that insurance companies and agents follow the rules, and our job is to make sure that happens,” said Kreidler.“Consumers count on that, and so do competitors.”

Last year, Kreidler's office collected a total of $407,600 in fines. In 2008, the total was more than $1.2 million.

Fines collected by the state insurance commissioner's office do not go to the agency. The money is deposited in the state's general fund to pay for other state services.

Fines imposed from January through March 2010 include:

  • Regence BlueShield, Asuris Northwest Health, and Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon were fined $200,000, with $75,000 suspended, for violations including failing to provide coverage for prostate cancer screening.
  • National Union Fire Insurance Co. of Pittsburgh, Pa. was fined $150,000, with $50,000 suspended, for violations including issuing blanket coverage to groups that are not eligible.
  • Regence BlueShield, of Seattle, was fined $100,000, with $50,000 suspended, for failing to properly notify consumers of appeals decisions.
  • National Union Fire Insurance Co. of Pittsburgh, Pa. was also fined $50,000, with $10,000 suspended, for issuing policies with coverage dates prior to state approval of the policies.
  • National General Insurance Co., of Maryland Heights, Mo., was fined $25,000, with $10,000 suspended, for using the number of credit inquiries on some consumers' credit reports to set premium prices. (Washington banned this practice in 2003.) The company also refunded a total of $82,192 to consumers.
  • Farmers New World Life Insurance Company, of Mercer Island, was fined $13,500 for violations including failing to implement the company's own standards and procedures for juvenile life insurance.
  • Austin Mutual Insurance Co., of Maple Grove, MN, was fined $10,000 for issuing policies that weren't in accordance with what the company had filed with state regulators.
  • State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co., of Bloomington, IL, was fined $6,500 for accepting applications for long-term care insurance from several agents who had not completed required classes on long-term care insurance.
  • North Coast Life Insurance Co., of Spokane, was fined $5,000 for issuing a dividend while maintaining a negative earned surplus.
  • Industrial Alliance Pacific Insurance and Financial Services Inc., of Vancouver, British Columbia, was fined $5,000 for violations including failing to keep agent information current.

In addition, Casey R. Ingels and Builders Risk Surety & Bond Co. Inc., of Las Vegas, NV were ordered to stop transacting unauthorized insurance business in Washington state.

Kreidler also disciplined insurance agents, including:

  • William S. Bennett, Jr., of Bellevue, whose license was revoked. Bennett pleaded guilty in federal court to one count of theft of government funds.
  • Charlotte Sandford and Charlotte M. Sandford Insurance Agency, of Castle Rock. License was revoked due to failure to remit premiums and use of customer cash premium payments for personal use.

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