State Investigators Find All Sorts Of Dirty Tricks At Mercury Insurance

This summer Californians will be able to vote on Proposition 17, which if passed will allow insurers to bypass some legal restrictions on how much they can charge for auto insurance. Mercury Insurance Group is a big proponent of the proposition, but maybe that’s because it’s been possibly sidestepping the law in recent years anyway. Hey, making it legal will just prevent another state report like the one Carla Marinucci at the San Francisco Chronicle obtained, which contains findings that Mercury “has engaged in practices that may be illegal, including deceptive pricing and discrimination against consumers such as active members of the military and drivers of emergency vehicles.”

Here are just a few of the findings in the report, according to the paper:

In its reporting, the state found evidence that Mercury may have violated state laws by:

– Flagging some consumers for higher rates if they had been in an accident, even if it was not their fault.

– Not immediately granting coverage to applicants including military personnel on active duty, “artists,” those employed “in the entertainment industry as actors, dancers, etc.,” and emergency vehicle drivers.

– Raising insurance premiums after its sales agents quoted prices for discounts for which the consumer was not eligible. The department said this was the single largest category of complaints it received about the firm.

– Collecting higher premiums than allowed by law by requiring its brokers to return part of their fees to the company.

– Requesting information about customers’ “national origin,” a practice that the department said “could raise questions about the legality of Mercury’s personal automobile policy cancellation and non-renewal decisions” under state law. Mercury agreed to block such data after the state investigators raised concerns.

State officials said the report uncovered 25 issues or questionable practices by Mercury, seven of which remain unresolved.

“Insurer may have violated law, report reveals” [sfgate.com]