Geico agrees to pay $6 million and change allegedly misleading and discriminatory business practices
News: 2015 Press Release
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Geico, a large multi-line insurer licensed in California, has agreed to pay $6 million dollars and implement several changes to their business practices, as part of a settlement with the Department of Insurance. The settlement stems from a petition in which Consumer Federation of California alleged Geico's online premium quoting system was discriminatory and misleading to consumers.
"Consumers are entitled to a fair estimate, that does not misrepresent material information, and discloses fully what they are getting for their money," said Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. "Insurers must adhere to the letter of law when developing quotes, whether in person or through an online system."
Based on information obtained through extensive testing of the Geico website, Consumer Federation of California discovered the insurer misrepresented a $100,000/$300,000 limit quote as being a lowest-limits quote, when in fact, it was not. Consumer Federation of California alleged in their petition that these higher policy limits were only quoted to certain consumers, based on their education level, occupation and gender.
Though insurers may also offer and sell policies with higher limits, California law requires insurers to offer a minimum limits policy of $15,000/$30,000. Geico's online premium quoting system was inaccurately describing quotes for higher limits as the lowest limits.
Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones issued an order approving the settlement agreement and requiring Geico to discontinue using consumers' education level or occupation to quote coverage limits, and to offer a quote for a $15,000/$30,000 policy to certain consumers for the next three years. The insurer has also agreed to submit to twice-yearly audits of their website for the next three years, to ensure they are complying with the law.
- Link to settlement.
- If Geico fails to comply with the settlement agreement, the insurer will pay an additional $6 million.
The California Department of Insurance, established in 1868, is the largest consumer protection agency in California. Insurers collect $289 billion in premiums annually in California. Since 2011 the California Department of Insurance received more than 1,000,000 calls from consumers and helped recover over $469 million in claims and premiums. Please visit the Department of Insurance web site at www.insurance.ca.gov. Non-media inquiries should be directed to the Consumer Hotline at 800.927.HELP or 213.897.8921. Telecommunications Devices for the Deaf (TDD), please dial 800.482.4833.