Universal Casualty May Sell Auto Insurance in Missouri Again

April 12, 2010

The Missouri Department of Insurance has lifted its restrictions on Chicago-based auto insurance company, Universal Casualty Co., allowing it to start offering new policies in Missouri again.

Director John M. Huff issued a cease-and-desist order against Universal Casualty in June 2009, banning it from writing new business until it changed numerous business practices. Huff said at the time his department had a large number of consumer complaints and found numerous violations of state law.

At the time the C&D order was enacted, Universal Casualty had more than 13 times the typical number of consumer complaints for a company its size.

Since then, department officials have been working with Universal Casualty to ensure it was addressing the problems. On March 31, the department lifted the C&D order, saying the company had “demonstrated to the Director that it has implemented operational changes necessary to improve its business practices.”

Specifically, the company has agreed to respond to customer claims more promptly, make reasonable offers for claims payments and not make unreasonable demands of customers filing claims, the department said.

Among the Missouri-required conditions met by Universal Casualty:

  • Smaller workloads for its insurance adjusters, allowing them to better respond to and service claims from policyholders;
  • Complaints by policyholders to the Department of Insurance are down dramatically since November 2009; and
  • The company has paid a $100,000 fine to the department for the previous violations of Missouri law.

According to Department of Insurance market share reports, the company wrote $5.9 million in premiums in 2008.

In June 2009 the Indiana Department of Insurance also ordered Universal Casualty to stop writing new policies in the state until the company could demonstrate “improved business practices.” The department fined the company $200,000.

In August 2009, Illinois regulators fined Universal Casualty $200,000, as well, saying the company had failed to adopt and maintain procedures for the prompt investigation and settlement of consumers’ claims.

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