Thursday, October 25, 2007

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Two Auto Credit Insurance Companies Agree to Premium Refunds; AG Files Legal Action Against Another

AUSTIN Attorney General Greg Abbott has reached a settlement with two auto credit insurance companies that sold credit insurance plans to Texas vehicle owners. Under the settlement announced today, the defendants will refund unearned premiums to eligible Texas policyholders.

In a separate case, the Attorney General took legal action against Universal Underwriters Life Insurance Co. of Kansas, which the state charged with retaining credit insurance premiums from customers who paid off their auto loans ahead of schedule.

Media links
Service Life and Casualty Insurance Co. Assurance of Voluntary Compliance
Old United Life Insurance Co. Assurance of Voluntary Compliance
Attorney General's lawsuit against Universal Underwriters Life Insurance Co.

Under the two settlements announced today, more than 46,000 Texas vehicle owners who purchased credit insurance from Service Life and Casualty Insurance Co. can expect premium refunds totaling $14.4 million. Another 6,500 policyholders can expect $1.3 million in refunds from Old United Life Insurance Companies. The premium refunds apply to vehicle owners whose loans terminated between 2002 and 2006.

The action filed against Universal Underwriters requests a court judgment ordering the company to make $2.6 million in credit insurance premium refunds to more than 10,000 Texas policyholders.

Austin-based Service Life and Old United Life of Kansas, which both settled with the state, sold policies that were intended to cover vehicle payments in the event the borrower died or became disabled. The companies’ customers bought single-premium policies which were paid in a lump sum, typically when the customers purchased their vehicles. The full cost of the credit insurance policy was bundled into the buyer’s vehicle loan. The coverage period lasted through the term of the vehicle loan, in some cases as long as six years.

Under the Texas Insurance Code, Service Life and Old United were obligated to refund the unearned portion of the insurance premiums to those customers who paid off their loans ahead of schedule. The companies, however, retained the unearned premiums.

With this settlement, five insurers have now reached agreements with the Attorney General involving credit insurance policies. The Attorney General originally took legal action against eight companies, three of which are still pending. In May, Enterprise Life Insurance Co. was the first company to offer refunds to eligible customers under the settlement agreement with the Attorney General.