State Farm, Fla. A/G Crist Agree to Reimburse Customers Who Bought Damaged, Stolen Cars

January 10, 2005

Florida motorists may be eligible for refunds of as much as $20,000 under a nationwide agreement to benefit individuals who unknowingly purchased damaged or stolen cars from State Farm Mutual Insurance Company.

Attorney General Charlie Crist said the agreement is part of a $40 million settlement reached by Crist’s office and the Attorneys General of 48 other states and the Washington, D.C.

According to Crist, Florida was one of the lead states in reaching the agreement, which is designed to compensate thousands of owners of cars, SUVs and trucks across the country.

Affected motorists bought vehicles from State Farm after the company took title to them from policyholders due to damage or unrecovered theft. The titles to the affected vehicles did not properly indicate that they previously had been damaged or stolen, Crist said.

After research into vehicle titles is complete, an estimated 30,000 to 40,000 consumers nationwide may be eligible for payments ranging from about $400 to as much as $20,000. Most payments are expected to range from $800 to $1,850, depending primarily on the current average value of the vehicle and the number of consumers who participate in the compensation program.

The Attorney General’s Office and State Farm will continue to work closely with the state Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles to determine the title status of vehicles in Florida. Consumers who complete a claim form and are approved are to receive a compensation payment from State Farm later this year or in early 2006.

Florida owners of affected vehicles will be sent a letter by Crist’s office with a claim form to complete and return to an independent company that will administer claims. Once all claims are in, the state will finalize the amount each consumer is to receive and will mail checks.

State Farm will also pay $1 million to participating states for consumer education, future consumer litigation, public protection, local consumer aid funds and legal fees and costs.

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