Coakley settles with insurers over at-fault data

Nick Rees Feb. 17, 2010, 5:37pm

Martha Coakley (D)

BOSTON (Legal Newsline) - Settlement agreements have been reached between Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley's office and five auto insurance companies as part of Coakley's Board of Appeal Enforcement Initiative.

The settlement, which includes Metropolitan Property & Casualty, Liberty Mutual Insurance Company, Peerless Insurance company, Plymouth Rock Assurance Corporation and Pilgrim Insurance Company, relates to the alleged failure by the insurers to update at-fault accident determinations that they reported to a private data collection company. Those reports were made following the state Board of Appeal's overturning of those at-fault accident findings.

An enforcement initiative was announced earlier this month by Coakley's office regarding insurer failures to follow state law regarding the Board of Appeal. The independent Board of Appeal reviews the fairness of at-fault accident determinations made by insurance companies.

Following an initial review, Coakley's office determined that some insurance companies were failing to abide by the 2009 Board of Appeal statute requiring insurance companies to report and use Board of Appeal determinations to set consumers' premiums.

The five insurance companies, as part of the settlements, will reform their at-fault reporting practices and update private database information whenever one of their at-fault findings is overturned by the Board of Appeal. Additionally, the companies will notify the insurance companies that currently insure affected drivers to ensure that those drivers are re-rated accordingly. Payments totaling more than $100,000 will also be made by the settling companies to the state of Massachusetts.

The five insurers will also correct the at-fault determinations that they reported to the privately-operated Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange database, which is used to evaluate customers' driving histories. The insurers will also make payments to former customers who were overcharged by other insurance companies.

The settling insurers use the Merit Rating Board's point system rather than the C.L.U.E. data in calculating premiums for most Massachusetts drivers, which means that the premiums charged to their policyholders were not affected by the erroneous C.L.U.E. reports.

"We are pleased that the settling insurance companies cooperated with our review and agreed to work with our Office to fix this problem," Coakley said. "The Board of Appeal plays an important role in protecting consumers by reviewing and independently determining the fairness of at-fault accident determinations made by insurance companies. If this problem had not been caught and corrected, this incorrect data might have plagued consumers and inflated their premiums for years to come."

More News