Washington Levies Fines for Violations

June 25, 2007

A Los Angeles insurer has been fined $100,000 for multiple violations of Washington insurance laws discovered during a market conduct examination of the company by the Washington Office of the Insurance Commissioner.

Farmers Insurance Exchange and Truck Insurance Exchange, a Los Angeles-based insurer offering insurance for property, vehicle, casualty and other lines of coverage, was fined for violations that occurred in 2004. The agency suspended $25,000 of the fine on condition that there are no further violations and the company fulfills a compliance plan.

Specifically, the company failed to notify policyholders about premium increases, incorrectly rated polices and failed to meet notification requirements for premium increases, non-renewals and cancellations, as well as other violations.

In other enforcement actions, the Washington agency:

* Levied a $5,000 fine against American Commerce Insurance Co., Columbus, Ohio, for violations discovered in a market conduct examination of the company. Specifically, the violations related to maintenance of claim files and the settlement of automobile claims. The fine was suspended on condition that the company not have any more violations for two years.

* Set aside orders revoking the licenses of independent agents Barbara C. Leaverton and Michael R. Leaverton, of Sunnyside, after the couple agreed to pay fines for unfair or deceptive acts and other violations related to the sale of non-approved annuities. They were each fined $7,000, with $3,750 suspended on condition that they have no further violations.

* Revoked the license of Stephen K. Brombach, doing business as Integrity Group Insurance and Financial Services, Marysville, after determining that he was incompetent, untrustworthy and a source of injury and loss to the public. Specifically, the agent took $35,000 from a consumer for investment and failed to return the funds as promised.

Penalties and fines collected by the Insurance Commissioner are deposited in the state’s General Fund where the dollars are used to fund programs for Washington residents. The agency collected a total of $2.2 million in enforcement fines in 2006.

Source: OIC

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