Allstate, Mercury, CSAA ordered to reimburse extra auto premiums
California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara has ordered three insurance companies – Allstate Northbrook Indemnity Company, Mercury Insurance, CSAA Insurance Exchange – to reimburse or take legal action for the excess premiums they collected from California auto insurance customers.
According to a statement from the commissioner’s office, the three insurers insure about 20% or a fifth of all California drivers.
The California Department of Insurance (CDI) said further analysis of the data sent by insurers shows these three companies have the largest gap between what they originally reimbursed drivers and what they should have reimbursed consumers.
The data collected by the CDI showed that from March to September 2020, insurers reimbursed an average of 9% of car premiums. However, the department’s analysis found that they should have paid almost double that – 17% – within seven months.
The three insurance companies named in Lara’s order have 30 days from October 5, 2021 to respond, according to a statement from the commissioner’s office.
“Last year when the pandemic broke out, millions of Californians stayed home to save lives. We have driven less and have reduced the risk to other drivers on the road. And that’s why I instructed insurance companies to give money back to the drivers, ”Lara said. “New data shows that these three insurance companies have the largest gap between what they did and what they should have done in order to offer their policyholders further premium relief.”
“Californians drove much less during the pandemic but continued to pay premiums for pre-pandemic auto insurance. Holding on to an undeserved windfall won during an unprecedented crisis, insurance companies are forced to repay the deductible they accumulated after COVID changed everything, added Douglas Heller, insurance expert for the Consumer Federation of America.
Lara had ordered all property insurers operating in California to reimburse reasonable insurance premiums shortly after Governor Gavin Newsom’s order to stay home during the March 2020 COVID-19 pandemic outbreak. But as the pandemic persisted, the commissioner said the reimbursement mandate was extended through June 2020 and beyond, “as the conditions warrant”.