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.
The California Department of Insurance, established in 1868, is the largest consumer protection agency in California. Insurers collect $340 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 website at www.insurance.ca.gov. Non-media inquiries should be directed to the Consumer Hotline at 800-927-4357. Teletypewriter (TTY), please dial 800-482-4833.