November 8, 2010
Jefferson City, Mo. – Attorney General Chris Koster said today he is amending his lawsuits against three companies that sold bogus auto warranty products by including the allegation that the companies have been selling insurance without a state license through the sale of additive contracts. The amended petitions partner with the Missouri Department of Insurance and allege the companies violated 15 different state laws. He earlier amended the lawsuit against US Fidelis alleging similar violations.
Koster said the companies engaged in the “additive scam,” whereby the telemarketers sell an auto additive product – such as a bottle of fluid, radiator tablets, battery caps, and air conditioner spray – and promise repair coverage. Consumers were unaware they were buying an additive or device until they received it in the mail. Koster said that by offering additive contracts, the telemarketers have been selling insurance without a state license by selling the transfer of risk. The companies sold the products as auto additives to avoid Missouri’s service contract laws, which provide some minimal protection for consumers.
The companies involved in the lawsuits are:
Koster is asking the court to require the companies to refund any money they received for any illegal contract sold by the telemarketers and to order the companies to stop engaging in the unfair and deceptive practices alleged.
Koster earlier this year held meetings with legislators, car dealers, and representatives of the service contract industry.
“During our task force meetings, it has been made clear that these additive contracts and the limited coverage they provide were developed for the very purpose of evading insurance department regulation and the consumer protections that go along with it,” Koster said. “I’m pleased that the Department of Insurance, under the leadership of Director John Huff, has partnered with us in these lawsuits.”
“If a product has the look and feel of insurance, consumers should contact the insurance department to make sure the company is doing business legally,” said Huff. “We can quickly answer that question at 1-800-726-7390 or insurance.mo.gov.”
Koster encourages consumers who have complaints about additive purchases from any of these businesses to contact the Attorney General’s Office at ago.mo.gov or by phone calling the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection hotline at 1-800-392-8222.