Insurer fined $100,000

A company that issued thousands of medical insurance policies to college students has been fined $100,000 for charging unapproved rates, as well as other violations.

Indiana-based Unicare Life and Health Insurance Co. has agreed to pay the fine.

Between mid-2004 and mid-2009, Unicare sold thousands of medical insurance policies to students at community colleges, technical schools, colleges and universities across Washington state. Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler’s office later determined that there were substantial problems with the coverage. Among them:

• For more than six years, the company used unapproved methods to set its rates.

• Unicare continued to wrongly cite a policy exclusion for 5 years after the law had changed to ban insurers from using the exclusion.

• Unicare allowed unlicensed insurance agents to market and sell the policies. The primary company marketing the policies was not licensed to do business in Washington until June 2009. At that point, it had been selling the policies for four years.

The company was unable to respond to Kreidler’s requests for supporting documentation on rates at specific colleges, saying that the documents were prepared by employees who no longer worked there.

Fines collected by the insurance commissioner’s office do not go to the agency. The money is deposited in the state’s general fund to pay for other state services.

The policies included international students at the University of Washington, Washington State University, Bellevue Community College, Seattle Pacific University, Shoreline Community College, Tacoma Community College and South Puget Sound Community College, among others.

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