The Seattle-based insurer is being sanctioned by the commissioner’s office for the third time in four years.
For the third time since Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler took office four years ago, his office has sanctioned Trupanion pet insurance.
The animal health insurance company was fined for a number of different behaviors and activities.
Trupanion Managers USA, a unit of the publicly traded Trupanion pet insurance company, was fined for a number of its marketing activities. These include:
• Paying an unlicensed website for pet insurance marketing and lead generation,
• Exceeding the $100 gift limit in exchange for referrals
• Paying $245,000 to five unlicensed reps for pet insurance policy sales to animal shelters and veterinary clinics.
Insurance commissioner’s office spokesperson, Kara Klotz, explained that regulations require that insurance companies work exclusively with licensed agents.
“If you’re working with an unlicensed professional and they do something bad that harms you, we don’t have recourse,” said Klotz. “If your (licensed) producer has violated state laws, you can go on our website and see exactly what they did.”
Trupanion pet insurance has also violated the regulations on three other occasions in four years.
Trupanion Managers faced a $150,000 fine back in 2016. At that time, the penalty was for having brought in $3.3 million in premiums via unlicensed producers. Again in 2016, its sister company, American Pet Insurance Co. was hit with a $250,000 fine for charging rates in an inconsistent way as well as for mishandling complaints from its policyholders.
“I would say it’s not incredibly common for us to have follow-up actions,” said Klotz. “We don’t want to have to keep fining them.”
Trupanion agreed with Kreidler’s complaints. They referred to the errors as being clerical mistakes. Darryl Rawlings, CEO of Trupanion pet insurance, said that it did indeed pay $133 in gifts to a veterinary clinic, which clearly exceeded the $100 permitted by the insurance commissioner’s regulations. The insurer also paid an unlicensed producer called Reviews.com
“That was a mistake on our part,” said Rawlings regarding the gift to the veterinary clinic. “We totally knew the rules.” He went on to agree that “This one website was providing a level of detailed information that requires a license.” However, he added that: “We were not aware of that. We would have told them they’re not allowed to do it. In that case it was an oversight on our side.”