Geico has agreed to pay $6 million dollars and implement several changes to its business practices, as part of a settlement with the California Department of Insurance.
The settlement stems from a petition in which the Consumer Federation of California alleged that Geico's online premium quoting system was discriminatory and misleading to consumers.
"Consumers are entitled to a fair estimate, that does not misrepresent material information, and discloses fully what they are getting for their money," said California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. "Insurers must adhere to the letter of law when developing quotes, whether in person or through an online system."
Based on information obtained through extensive testing of the Geico website, the Consumer Federation of California said the insurer misrepresented a $100,000/$300,000 limit quote as being a lowest-limits quote, when in fact, it was not. Consumer Federation of California alleged in their petition that these higher policy limits were only quoted to certain consumers, based on their education level, occupation, and gender.
Though insurers may also offer and sell policies with higher limits, California law requires insurers to offer a minimum limits policy of $15,000/$30,000. Geico's online premium quoting system was inaccurately describing quotes for higher limits as the lowest limits.
Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones issued an order approving the settlement agreement and requiring Geico to discontinue using consumers' education level or occupation to quote coverage limits, and to offer a quote for a $15,000/$30,000 policy to certain consumers for the next three years. The insurer has also agreed to submit to twice-yearly audits of its website for the next three years, to ensure it is complying with the law.