Coakley, motorcycle insurers settle

Nick Rees Mar. 2, 2010, 10:00am


BOSTON (Legal Newsline) - Settlements have been reached by Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley with four auto insurance companies over allegations that they overcharged Massachusetts consumers for motorcycle insurance.

The state's complaint alleged that Metropolitan Property & Casualty Insurance Company, Plymouth Rock Assurance, Pilgrim Insurance Company and the United Services Automobile Association used inflated motorcycle values in calculating premiums for many Massachusetts consumers. As a result of this practice, millions of dollars were overcharged in insurance premium overcharges, she alleges.

This newest settlement is expected to return $9 million to consumers and follows settlements with Safety Insurance Company, Liberty Mutual and Quincy Mutual in January over similar allegations. All told, the seven insurers are expected to return $20 million to consumers and pay Massachusetts more than $1 million.

"We are pleased that these insurance companies will return $9 million in insurance premium overcharges to affected motorcycle owners," Coakley said.

"While we appreciate that these companies cooperated with our investigation, it remains troubling that they systemically overcharged their customers on such a large scale."

Metropolitan Property & Casualty will return $3.5 million under terms of the settlement, with Plymouth Rock Assurance and Pilgrim Insurance collectively returning $3.6 million and USAA returning $2.3 million. Additionally, the insurance companies will make more than $500,000 in payments to the state and adopt conduct reforms.

The state's investigation into motorcycle rating practices began in the fall of 2008 following a complaint from the owners of a 1999 Harley Davidson Road King Classic that had been valued at $20,000 by Safety Insurance company. After the motorcycle was stolen, the company offered $11,000 to settle the claims and tried to refund $1,500 in premiums that had been based on the $20,000 value used from 2003 to 2008.

This complaint led Coakley's office to begin reviewing Safety Insurance and other insurance companies' practices of inflating and un-depreciating motorcycle values to rate coverage.

Many auto insurers operating in the Massachusetts marketplace were revealed to have failed to obtain current book values for motorcycles they insured and instead used inflated and out of date values to calculate premiums, leading to multiple settlements, Coakley said.

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