Geico to Refund $7.5 Million to Overcharged Washington Customers

NU Online News Service, Dec. 22, 9:40 a.m. EST

Warren Buffett’s Geico has been ordered to give back $7.5 million to more than 25,000 to active and former policyholders it charged in Washington.

The automobile insurer has also been fined $100,000. Another $50,000 fine has been suspended so long as Geico adheres to the terms of a two-year compliance plan, which includes multiple audits, says Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler, in a statement.

Kreidler says the auto insurer, part of Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, reported a computer database error to the Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner on May 26.

The total number of overcharged customers, 25,267, represents about 7 percent of Geico’s customers from Aug. 24, 2009 to June 2011.

When refunding the money, Geico must include 8 percent interest per year. The refunds, many of which have already been paid, average about $300, Kreidler says.

Geico must submit a corrective action plan, outlining steps it took, and who was involved in making them, to avoid future overcharging.

Geico’s 2011 third-quarter premiums earned were up 8.3 percent to $3.91 billion, The insurer booked a pre-tax underwriting gain of $114 million compared to $289 million a year ago.

The Berkshire Hathaway group of insurance companies was the sixth-largest provider of personal auto insurance in Washington with 7.2 percent of the market share in 2010, according to SNL Financial.

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