Farmers Insurance Group has been fined $1 million following settlement negotiations about how the company handled consumer claims.
Farmers, consisting of Farmers Insurance Exchange, Fire Insurance Exchange, Mid-Century Insurance Co., and Truck Insurance Exchange, agreed to the settlement to resolve a California Department of Insurance enforcement action. The action covered approximately 1,000 violations of the California Insurance Code and Fair Claims Regulations covering the period from Jan. 2, 2002, through Aug. 8, 2004. An investigation by the Claims Services Bureau of the California Department of Insurance found violations arising from some 350 claims handling complaints filed by consumers from 2001 to 2004, according to the commissioner’s office.
The majority of the complaints and violations cited in the December settlement involve claims handling delays; failure to commence investigation of a claim within 15 days; failure to properly notify policyholders of the need for additional investigation time; failure to pay a claim within 30 days after liability was accepted; and failure to respond to the Department within 21 days of receipt of communication from the Department.
The settlement includes an additional $125,000 to be paid if Farmers does not adhere to terms of the agreement and improve its claims handling practices, the department said.
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