For Immediate Release - May 01, 2014

Financing Company to Pay $200,000 for Prematurely Cancelling Auto Insurance Policies

FIRST Failed to Give Required Notice Before Cancelling Policies of Nearly 200 Massachusetts Customers; AG’s Investigation of Premium Financing Providers has Obtained More Than $484,000 to Date

BOSTON – An Illinois-based premium financing provider has agreed to pay $200,000 to resolve allegations that it illegally and prematurely cancelled certain financed auto insurance policies affecting nearly 200 Massachusetts customers, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced today.  Since 2011, the AG’s Office has obtained more than $484,000 in restitution to consumers and payments to the Commonwealth as a result of its investigation of illegal cancellation practices by premium financing providers.

According to the assurance of discontinuance, filed in Suffolk Superior Court today, FIRST Insurance Funding Corporation issued cancellation requests to insurance companies with an effective date that was the same as the date of the notice, violating a state insurance statute that requires premium financing providers to give at least a 20-day notice to the insurance company that issues the policy.

“Financing companies are required to give Massachusetts customers adequate protections and proper notice of auto insurance cancellations so they can determine a solution for continued coverage,” AG Coakley said. “Our office will continue to track these providers to make sure that they are complying with state laws when dealing with the insurance policies of consumers and small businesses.”

The state insurance statute works in conjunction with other state laws to ensure that customers have adequate time to bring their accounts current before their policies lapse and they are forced to take vehicles off the road or seek replacement coverage.

A premium finance company provides loans that enable people to pay their insurance premiums in installments. The company uses the unearned premium on the policy as collateral for the loan. If a customer misses a scheduled payment, the premium financing provider may seek to cancel the policy. 

Under the terms of the settlement, FIRST will pay more than $140,000 to roughly 200 customers in Massachusetts whose policies were allegedly prematurely cancelled by FIRST or were sought to be prematurely canceled. FIRST will also pay an additional $60,000 to the Commonwealth.  FIRST has also agreed to modify its auto insurance cancellation procedures and bring its notice practices into compliance with state statutes. 

The AG’s Office began its investigation of illegal cancellation practices by premium financing providers in 2011. This is the fourth investigation to result in refunds to Massachusetts customers. Previously, the AG’s Office recovered funds from IPFS CorporationFlatiron and New York-based premium financing provider AICCO.

This matter was handled by Assistant Attorney General Jenny Wojewoda of Attorney General Coakley’s Insurance and Financial Services Division. 

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