KTUU (Anchorage) -- The State of Alaska prohibits automobile insurers from charging drivers more money for a policy based solely on a lapse in coverage. But 2Investigates found a major insurance company is quoting higher rates to military members in Alaska who had a break in coverage due to deployment.
We researched rate quotes using GEICO's instant quote generator, available online. Using the same driver profile, we compared rates in four Alaska cities, changing only whether insurance had been continuous or stopped due to deployment. KTUU found rate hikes totaling hundreds of dollars per year for drivers based in Juneau, Wasilla, Anchorage, and Fairbanks.
we don't know if an insurance company is not applying all the discounts or hearing to our checklist and our regulations regarding underwriting unless someone calls and tells us
Our sample profile was a 29-year old member of the Alaska National Guard who was single, had a private-sector job, rented his home, financed his car, and had a clean driving record.
Alaska's insurance director told KTUU that a 1993 enforcement order states that “Failure to maintain continuous automobile insurance coverage, when this failure does not result in violation of the Mandatory Insurance Act AS 28.22, may not be used as a rating factor."
Wing-Heier also said that the division's internal checklist further explains that “To the extent that an insurer’s rating plan necessitates evaluation of prior insurance history, these insureds must be treated in a manner that can be demonstrated to be neutral”.
KTUU received an email late Tuesday afternoon from GEICO Corporate Communications responding to a phone call we'd placed earlier the same day seeking comment. The email did not directly address our findings. But the company did express its support for the military and said it strives "to go above and beyond" to meet the needs of its active-duty and retired military members.
The company also wrote that it would "...be happy to look at any and all specific instances where a deployed service member feels he/she is being treated unfairly."
Wing-Heier told KTUU anyone who's tried and failed to resolve a rate discrepancy directly with their insurance company, can file complaints with the Alaska Division of Insurance online or by phone by calling (907) 269-7900.
"We don't know if an insurance company is not applying all the discounts or adhering to our checklist and our regulations regarding underwriting unless someone calls and tells us," Wing-Heier told KTUU in a follow-up phone call from Juneau.
Wing-Heier said companies that repeatedly fail to come into compliance with insurance regulations may face fines, or, in worst-case scenarios, be banned from operating in Alaska.
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