Department takes enforcement action against bail surety to protect Californians from discrimination
News: 2018 Press Release
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The California Department of Insurance issued a Notice of Noncompliance charging Seaview Insurance Company with allegedly failing to maintain eligibility guidelines for its surety line of insurance resulting in possible discrimination to California consumers. Seaview is the surety for Aladdin Bail Bonds, the largest bail bond company in the state.
After conducting a regularly scheduled market conduct examination, the department found that Seaview lacked specific guidelines for collateral requirements and lacked specific guidelines for down payment of bond premium and payment plans. By not maintaining objective, specific eligibility guidelines, Seaview is allegedly in violation of the California Insurance Code and the California Code of Regulation. This alleged violation results in an inability for applicants to receive equal access to a bail bond creating the presumption that Seaview has applied rates that were excessive, inadequate and/or unfairly discriminatory.
This Notice of Noncompliance requires Seaview to correct its violations and provide proof of a system wide correction within 10 days. If the company fails to do so, CDI will set a public hearing that may result in penalties or corrective action deemed appropriate by the insurance commissioner.
In February 2018, Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones prevailed in a suit brought by a bail agent challenging a regulation prohibiting bail agents from referring, suggesting, or recommending an attorney to arrestees. The court reasoned that the regulation, which dates back to the 1940s, directly furthers important government interests in precluding overreaching and undue influence by bail agents in arrestees' decisions about hiring an attorney, as well as in regulating the conduct of bail agents who are licensed by the Department of Insurance.
In January 2017, Commissioner Jones held a public hearing to examine the bail system in California and to hear from interested parties, including bail industry representatives, law enforcement, bail reform groups, and other stakeholders regarding their perspectives on the current bail system and options for reform.
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.