November 27, 2012
Jefferson City, Mo. -- Attorney General Chris Koster said today his office has reached a $399,400 settlement with NRRM, LLC, a St. Peters-based seller of vehicle breakdown coverage that has been doing business under the name “StopRepairBills” since late 2009, and is now advertising under the name, “Vehicle Protection Center.” The settlement requires that the company reform its business practices.
“This settlement is a strong message to the service contract industry that companies must comply with Missouri law and must make adequate disclosures to consumers,” Koster said. “Our office will prosecute businesses that ignore their responsibilities of honesty and fair dealing with consumers.”
According to Koster, NRRM was formed in the merger of National Dealers Warranty and Auto Warranty Protection Services. The settlement resolves allegations that in operating a call center to offer vehicle breakdown coverage, NRRM:
The injunction entered today by Jackson County Judge Edith Messina requires the company to reform its business practices in the offer and sale of vehicle service contracts. It also completely prohibits the sale of “additive contracts,” which were sold as though they were vehicle service contracts but were structured as “product warranties” to try to avoid being regulated under insurance and service contract laws. NRRM sold this contract by arranging for the delivery of a bottle of ordinary oil additive; the accompanying contract provided very limited breakdown protection and had no relationship to the performance of the product in the bottle.
The consent judgment establishes a restitution fund of $187,200 intended to provide a full refund to Missouri consumers who were sold this additive coverage. The settlement also provides the state $25,000 in costs that will be used for consumer law enforcement. The judgment imposes civil penalties and forfeitures in the amount of $187,200 and allows for potential future recovery for other complaints.
“Missouri law says consumers have a right to see a written service contract and agree to its terms,” Koster added. “Customers who purchase vehicle repair coverage by telephone often later realize the significant limits to coverage in the written contract. It is important for Missouri consumers to protect themselves by carefully reviewing vehicle service contracts to make sure they contain the provisions promised.”
Missouri law now requires that both motor vehicle extended service contract sellers and providers of such contracts be registered with the Department of Insurance. Missouri law also requires that motor vehicle service contracts made with consumers clearly and conspicuously describe the consumer’s right to cancellation, among other rights.
“Most sellers of these extended service contracts must have a license from the Missouri Department of Insurance,” said Insurance Director John M. Huff. “We encourage consumers to contact our department to make sure the seller is licensed and authorized to do business in Missouri.” Any Missouri consumer who was defrauded in his/her purchase of coverage from Stoprepairbills should submit a complaint to the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection hotline at 800-392-8222 or online at ago.mo.gov. Koster and Huff encourage consumers to verify that a business is licensed by calling the Department of Insurance at 800-726-7390 or visiting insurance.mo.gov. Consumers with complaints about service contracts should also call the Department at 800-726-7390 or visit insurance.mo.gov.