For Immediate Release: September 23, 2013
Consumer Complaint Leads to $524,000 Fine for Time Insurance Company
RALEIGH -- Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin announced today that Time Insurance Company has agreed to take corrective actions and pay a $524,000 fine after an administrative investigation by the North Carolina Department of Insurance.
The investigation began in late 2011 after NCDOI received a complaint from a consumer about his dissatisfaction with a health insurance policy he bought by telephone after requesting a quote online.
NCDOI learned that:
- The policy was sold by a recently-incorporated California agency, and the agent who conducted the sale was not licensed in North Carolina or any other state.
- Most policies being sold by the agency were underwritten by Time Insurance Company, a Wisconsin-based insurance company that is licensed in North Carolina.
- For approximately nine months after the agency opened in spring 2011, most of the agents hired by the agency were licensed only in California, and of those that were licensed agents, many were not appointed by Time Insurance Company.
- The agency was using deceptive telephone sales scripts with consumers across the country.
- Approximately 1,500 policies were sold to North Carolina consumers by agents that did not hold a North Carolina agent license and who did not hold an agent appointment with Time Insurance Company. (During NCDOI’s investigation, Time Insurance Company sent letters to these North Carolina consumers in an effort to help them understand the policies they had purchased.)
North Carolina law requires that insurance agents be licensed by NCDOI in order to sell insurance in the state. Generally, agents are also required to be appointed by the insurance companies for which they are selling policies.
As a result of NCDOI’s investigation, Time Insurance Company voluntarily agreed to construct and implement a national corrective action plan and pay a $524,000 penalty in lieu of a formal administrative hearing. The corrective action plan increases the company’s due diligence and monitoring of agent and agency sales activities in order to ensure that only licensed and appointed agents are taking applications for insurance coverage, and that sales and other marketing materials accurately describe the coverage involved.
The $524,000 civil penalty will benefit North Carolina public schools in accordance with the provisions of Article IX, Section 7 of the North Carolina Constitution.