Insurer agrees to pay off bid-rigging allegations

John O'Brien Oct. 26, 2007, 2:58pm

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - ACE Group Holdings has settled bid-rigging allegations brought against it by eight states and the District of Columbia for $4.5 million.

Governmental entities, companies and nonprofit organizations ended up paying higher premiums as a resulted of the inflated commercial insurance market created by ACE's bid-rigging and price-fixing, the attorneys general of those states claimed.

"The insurance must ensure that Florida policyholders are treated fairly," Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum said. "We will continue our efforts to restore accountability and transparency to insurance markets."

Joining in the settlement were Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Oregon, Texas and West Virginia. It is Florida's second settlement with an insurance carrier that is alleged to have participated in insurance broker Marsh & McLennan's alleged bid-rigging.

Marsh & McLennan was the prime target in former New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer's crusade against alleged bid-rigging in the insurance industry. The company ultimately reached an $850 million settlement with Spitzer.

As a result of the settlement, ACE will disclose any compensation that ACE paid to brokers. Prior to it, ACE reimbursed a nationwide group of policyholders and adopted bidding and underwriting reforms.

"ACE and the plaintiffs wish to resolve any and all issues, allegations and/or claims based upon the acts, practices or courses of conduct that are subject of the investigations," the settlement says. "The plaintiffs find that the AG Settlement Agreement adequately addresses their principle collective concerns and this is in the public interest."

Florida will receive the most under the terms of the settlement, gaining $1,574,315.24. Following Florida are Texas ($1,334,928.03), Massachusetts ($680,951.76), Michigan ($251,958.21), Maryland ($251,630.51), Oregon ($189,475.04), D.C. ($103,703.71), Hawaii ($74,939.23) and West Virginia ($38,098.27).

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