Massachusetts motorcyclists get insurance refunds

Motorcyclists who had insurance through three companies in Massachusetts will get refunds from hundreds to thousands of dollars under a settlement agreement between the state and the insurance companies. State Attorney General Martha Coakley announced that her office has entered into settlement agreements with Safety Insurance Company, Liberty Mutual Insurance Company and Quincy Mutual Fire Insurance Company to resolve allegations the companies overcharged consumers.

The Massachusetts Motorcycle Association (MMA) is spearheading the effort to ensure that all motorcyclists entitled to refunds get them.

"The AGO (Attorney General’s Office) has reached out to the motorcycling community, through the MMA, out of concern that the insurance companies might not be able to identify and locate the riders," said MMA Chairman Dave Condon. "All riders are encouraged to contact the MMA directly for assistance in expediting your refund."

To qualify for a refund, you must answer "yes" to the following questions:

1) Did you buy motorcycle insurance from the Safety, Liberty or Quincy insurance company?

2) Did your motorcycle insurance policy contain the collision or comprehensive options?

3) Did you buy this optional motorcycle insurance at any time during the years 2002 to the present?

If you answered "yes" to all three questions, then you may be due a refund, with 6 percent interest, and are urged to send your contact information to the e-mail address: MyRefund@MassMotorcycle.org. Or, mail the information to MMA, Attn: MA AGO Insurance Settlement, P.O. Box 378, Brimfield, MA 01010.

The contact information will be shared only with the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office Insurance and Financial Services Division and the named insurance carrier, Condon said. The information should include your name, address (past and present), telephone number, e-mail, and the year, make, model and VIN number of the motorcycle or motorcycles that were insured.

Alternately, the AGO has worked with the three insurance companies to establish the following hotlines: Liberty (800) 569-5411, Quincy (800) 899-1116, and Safety (877) 951-6416.

Coakley said average refunds are expected to be $300, with some consumers receiving thousands of dollars. Tens of thousands of policies may have been involved.

The settlement resolves allegations that the insurance companies overcharged consumers for motorcycle insurance by using incorrect motorcycle values to calculate premiums. The settlements, which return $11.1 million to consumers, stem from an investigation that the AGO began more than a year ago after a consumer filed a complaint with the office’s Insurance and Financial Services Division.

"We are pleased that Liberty, Quincy and Safety cooperated with our investigation and worked closely with our office to reach settlements that return the alleged overcharges to affected consumers," Coakley said. "However, it remains troubling that these overcharges occurred, and these cases certainly underscore the importance of transparency in auto insurance rating.

"Both consumers and regulators need to have access to information showing how premiums are to be calculated so that consumers can be protected and are not overcharged," she said.

Auto insurance companies are required to calculate premiums by following the rules in their rating manuals. The settling insurers’ rating manuals required the insurers to use current motorcycle book values to calculate the collision and comprehensive premiums charged to consumers, Coakley said.

But rather than using current book values to calculate premiums, the settling insurers calculated premiums for a 1999 Harley-Davidson Road King Classic based on a $20,000 value in each year between 2003 and 2008, she said. In fact, the insured motorcycle’s book value was significantly less than $20,000 in 2003, and by 2008, the motorcycle’s value had depreciated to less than $12,000.

Yet, the consumers were still being rated in 2008 as if their motorcycle had a $20,000 book value, Coakley said.