$10 million penalty in Wells Fargo case
News: 2019 Press Release
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Wells Fargo has agreed to pay a $10 million penalty as part of a settlement agreement with the California Department of Insurance. This settlement resolves the department’s accusation alleging improper insurance sales practices related to Wells Fargo’s online insurance referral program. The improper practices resulted in consumers being signed up and charged for insurance products without their consent.
“The Department of Insurance’s investigation found that Wells Fargo was signing up and charging customers for insurance without their consent,” said Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. “Banks and other financial institutions should never be allowed to prey on their customers’ trust without being held accountable.”
Wells Fargo has agreed to not transact any new business during the remaining term of its two insurance licenses, which expire in July and September 2020, respectively. The company also agreed to not apply for a license for at least two years following the expiration of their current licenses. Wells Fargo has provided restitution to all California consumers who were charged premiums, bank fees and other direct monetary losses connected to the unauthorized insurance policies.
$5 million of the penalty is due immediately. If the company ever seeks to return to the California insurance marketplace, it will then pay the remaining $5 million penalty. The Department may also decline to issue a new license.
In November 2017, the department served on Wells Fargo an accusation seeking revocation of Wells Fargo’s insurance license for improper insurance sales practices. The accusation was 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.
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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.