CHARLESTON, WV -- West Virginia Insurance Commissioner, Jane L. Cline, announced today that the West Virginia Offices of the Insurance Commissioner completed five (5) West Virginia market conduct examinations during the 2007 calendar year. Market conduct examinations are conducted routinely and also by referral. These examinations focus on the business practices of insurers and producers and are designed to monitor marketing, advertising, policyholder services, underwriting, rating, and claims practices. The adopted reports are public record.
Of the five (5) West Virginia market conduct examinations, four (4) were routine and one (1) was a "target examination" based on the findings of a consumer hearing that revealed the company committed an Unfair Trade Practices Act (UTPA) violation. In total, these five (5) West Virginia market conduct examinations resulted in $43,500.00 worth of fines. Below are the details of the exams:
Highmark WV, DBA Mountain State Blue Cross Blue Shield, was fined $5,000.00 for failure to timely respond to the Insurance Commissioner regarding complaints, failure to abide by small group guaranteed issue requirements and improper filing of bona fide associations plans. Panhandle Farmers Mutual Insurance Company of WV was penalized $1,000.00 for failure to send notification to terminated producers. West Virginia Insurance Company was fined $6,000.00 for allowing business from un-appointed agents and for sending improper denial notices on claims. Municipal Mutual of West Virginia was penalized $7,000.00 for improper cancellation of insurance policies, failure to notify producers terminated for cause and allowing business submitted from agents not appointed by the Company. State Auto Property and Casualty Company was fined $24,500.00 for failure to send necessary notices of delay to Third Party Claimants and improper claims denial notices.
Commissioner Cline stated, "Market Conduct Examinations are an important tool the WV Offices of the Insurance Commissioner uses to proactively ensure that policyholders and claimants are being fairly treated by their insurance companies. Each of these companies entered into agreements to take corrective action on deficiencies identified by the examiners. In some cases, this included making additional payments to claimants or offering to restore policies which were previously cancelled."
Jason L. Butcher