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California Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner today announced a quarter-million dollar settlement with Mercury Insurance Group for alleged claims handling violations.
"It’s vital that insurance companies put their customers first," Poizner said. "I’m pleased that Mercury has agreed to this settlement, which demonstrates that claims handling violations will not be tolerated in California. Mercury recently announced that it’s reducing rates for policyholders, and I’m hopeful that the company will continue to put its customers first."
The California Department of Insurance (CDI) conducted a review of consumer complaints filed against Mercury Insurance, Mercury Casualty and California Automobile Insurance Companies collectively known as Mercury Insurance Group. Of the 121 files reviewed, CDI found a total of 258 violations occurred from January 2004 through December 2005. The violations involved several of the company’s claims-handling practices, including unreasonable delays in affirming or denying coverage and issuing claim payments.
Mercury Insurance Group will pay the California Department of Insurance $250,000 in monetary penalties, as well as $50,000 for CDI’s legal fees and enforcement costs associated with the case. Also, if Mercury Insurance doesn’t improve its performance standards by having a 15-percent reduction in justified complaints by Dec. 31, 2008, it may be ordered to pay an additional $200,000 in penalties.