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Westmont Wire

Texas Doubles Auto Insurance Assessment Fees

In an effort to boost funding for trauma care centers throughout the state, the Texas Legislature passed House Bill 2048, doubling its motor vehicle assessment fee. The new law, signed in June, amends Tex. Rev. Civ. Stat. Art. 4413(37) to increase an insurer’s assessment from $2 to $4 per motor vehicle.
 
Taking effect on September 1, insurers may choose to pass the fee onto policyholders, but the Department of Insurance will require insurers that decide to pass on any of the fee to submit a rate and rule filing. Of the increased assessment, 20% will be directed towards vehicle theft prevention, 20% will go to the general fund, and the remainder benefits Texas trauma facilities and emergency medical services.
 
For any questions about Texas House Bill 2048, or for inquiries regarding assessments, licensing and contracting, please contact Westmont Associates.

California Supreme Court Upholds $27.5 Million Penalty Against Mercury Insurance

On August 16, the California Supreme Court denied an appeal by Mercury and thus upheld a $27.5 million fine issued by the Department of Insurance against Mercury Insurance Company.  The California Court of Appeals previously denied the appeal on May 8, as reported in a May 10 Westmont Wire.

The Department of Insurance found Mercury to be in violation of Proposition 103 due to its charging unapproved agents fees of $50 to $150 in addition to Mercury’s approved rates to over 180,000 automobile insurance customers. Mercury collected these charges from September 1999 to August 2004 and attempted to justify them by incorrectly claiming that their agents were actually brokers. The Department found that merely labeling these agents as brokers did not change their status under Prop 103. They concluded that the scheme violated consumer interests by incentivizing agents to place business through Mercury instead of competitors.

For any questions about the California Insurance Department’s decision, or for inquiries regarding compliant agency and broker strategies, licensing and contracting please contact Westmont Associates.

North Carolina Adopts Changes to Its Surplus Lines Regulations

 

House Bill 220, recently signed into law by the Governor of North Carolina makes significant changes to North Carolina’s surplus lines requirements.

HB 220 removes the North Carolina Surplus Line Association’s obligation to submit an annually updated list of surplus lines licensees. The Bill also requires that the record of each contract which a surplus lines licensee places and maintains in its office, include a copy of the compliance agreement. Furthermore, HB 220 provides for a complete repeal of N.C. Gen. Stat. § 58-21-80, removing a surplus lines licensee’s quarterly reporting requirement. Reporting is no longer required to be on standardized forms prescribed by the Commissioner.

Additionally, HB 220 modifies the Department of Insurance’s ability to suspend, revoke, or refuse to renew a license. Under the amended N.C. Gen. Stat. § 58-21-95, the Department may no longer impose such penalties on a licensee for removing their office from North Carolina. The Bill further clarifies the Department’s powers to suspend or revoke a license by removing “Failure to maintain the required bond” from the list of punishable offenses and replacing that with “Failure to pay the stamping fee to the stamping office”. A bond is no longer required in North Carolina.

For any questions regarding House Bill 220, or for surplus lines regulatory inquiries, please contact Westmont Associates, Inc.


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