September 06, 2012
Missouri insurance regulators reach settlement with Allianz over annuity sales
Insurer will change practices, review customer complaints, pay fines
Jefferson City, Mo. - Missouri insurance regulators today announced an agreement with Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America to resolve consumer complaints about improper sales of annuities. The Missouri Department of Insurance, along with regulators in Iowa, Minnesota and Florida, led a nationwide investigation into the company.
The market conduct examination focused on the sales of some annuities by Allianz and its insurance agents between 2001 and 2008. The settlement requires the company to review complaints from consumers who believe policies were misrepresented to them or unsuitable for them. Consumers who have not filed complaints with Allianz can do so until March 31, 2013.
If a complaint is found to be justified, the consumer can choose to receive a retroactive policy cancelation and refund of all premiums paid. The settlement also puts requirements in place for the company's agent training program, complaint handling and annual statements to better reflect the financial performance of annuities.
"Of all the insurance policies available to Missouri consumers, annuities can be the most complex and confusing," said John M. Huff, director of the Missouri Department of Insurance. "Allianz customers can now have their cases reviewed to ensure they've been treated fairly."
Allianz in 2011 sold more than $206 million in annuities in Missouri, making it the state's eight-largest seller of annuities. As required by the settlement, Allianz has paid a fine of $257,000, to the Missouri state school fund.
Annuities are investment products sold by insurance companies. Consumers buy annuities as way to generate interest on their savings, generate income, or both. A consumer pays a lump sum or makes periodic payments to the insurance company offering the annuity. In exchange, the annuity either accumulates value or provides periodic payments to the consumer.
In market conduct exams and investigations, the Department of Insurance reviews insurance company practices regarding the treatment of policyholders. This includes the way premium rates are charged, the way insurers handle claims and other responsibilities under state law. These reviews can result in refunds for consumers, fines and corrections in business practices, as well as other remedies. Since the beginning of 2009, Market Conduct enforcement actions have generated $9.8 million in payments from insurance companies. The money goes toward refunds for consumers, General Revenue and the Missouri State School Fund.
Consumers with questions about Allianz policies or general insurance questions or complaints can call the Department of Insurance Consumer Hotline at 800-726-7390 or file a complaint at insurance.mo.gov.