Wells Fargo facing insurance license discipline
News: 2017 Press Release
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. and Wells Fargo Insurance, Inc., were served with an accusation by the California Department of Insurance seeking to suspend or revoke its licenses for alleged improper insurance sales practices related to the company's online insurance referral program, which resulted in insurance products being purchased and paid for by consumers without their knowledge.
"Consumers should not be treated like chattel by corporations who take advantage of and abuse the consumers' trust," said Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. "Companies licensed to transact insurance have an obligation to act with integrity, to obtain consumer consent before placing insurance, to disclose relevant and material information, and to comply with all state insurance laws."
The accusation is the result of an investigation opened at the direction of Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, which found that from 2008 to 2016, Wells Fargo customers were issued approximately 1,500 insurance policies without their knowledge or permission. In some cases, employees told consumers to enter their personal information on a policy application merely to receive a quote, but Wells Fargo employees later submitted the application to the insurer to purchase the policy without the consumer's permission.
In 2016, Wells Fargo paid $185 million to federal regulators to settle claims alleging the bank opened fraudulent deposit and credit card accounts. A bank review found approximately 3.5 million unauthorized deposit and credit card accounts opened from 2009 to 2016. Bank employees opened these unauthorized accounts as part of an incentive compensation program that indirectly encouraged improper sales practices and was not adequately overseen by bank management. Wells Fargo is expected to file a Notice of Defense.
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Led by Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara, the California Department of Insurance is the consumer protection agency for the nation's largest insurance marketplace and safeguards all of the state’s consumers by fairly regulating the insurance industry. Under the Commissioner’s direction, the Department uses its authority to protect Californians from insurance rates that are excessive, inadequate, or unfairly discriminatory, oversee insurer solvency to pay claims, set standards for agents and broker licensing, perform market conduct reviews of insurance companies, resolve consumer complaints, and investigate and prosecute insurance fraud. Consumers are urged to call 1-800-927-4357 with any questions or contact us at www.insurance.ca.gov via webform or online chat. Non-media inquiries should be directed to the Consumer Hotline at 800-927-4357. Teletypewriter (TTY), please dial 800-482-4833.