Dozens of volunteer fire and ambulance companies in the Capital Region will share in millions of dollars of overcharged insurance premiums being returned to hundreds of such volunteer groups statewide, regulators said Thursday.
More than $8 million in illegal premiums will be repaid to about 1,000 volunteer companies by two major insurance conglomerates, including an affiliate of American International Group (AIG), a international insurance giant that played a major role in the 2008 financial meltdown.
The policies covered volunteers who were hurt or disabled while performing firefighting or emergency duties between 2011 and 2017, according to the state Department of Financial Services.
Financial Services Superintendent Maria T. Vullo said the inflated premiums meant volunteer companies were paying “for coverage that did not bear a reasonable relationship to the benefits provided under the policies.”
AIG affiliate National Union Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburgh agreed to refund nearly $3 million in premiums to about 400 volunteer companies, pay a $1.2 million fine, and also report its premium and claims history to Vullo’s office for the next five years.
Arch Insurance agreed to refund $5.3 million in premiums to more 660 companies, pay a $1 million fine to the state, and also report premium and claims histories for the next five years.
State law requires that such insurance pay out benefits representing at least 60 percent of premiums, with the remainder being available to be kept by the insurance company for profit and overhead.
National Union and Arch were only paying out benefits on the volunteer policies reflecting between 20 percent and 30 percent of premiums, and keeping the rest, according to the state settlement.
National Union also filed premium reports with Vullo’s state that met the state’s legal requirements, but then charged the volunteer companies higher rates, according to the state settlement.
In the Capital Region, refunds will be coming to volunteer companies that cover Argyle, Averill Park, Berne, Burnt Hills, Castleton, Rotterdam, Fort Ann, Fort Edward, Galway, Glenville, Guilderland, Colonie, Knox, Maplewood, Mayfield, East Greenbush, Moreau, Niskayuna, Rensselaerville, Rotterdam, Sand Lake, Schodack, Slingerlands, Stillwater and other localities.
National Union/AIG spokesman Matt Gallagher declined comment.
“Arch Insurance Company has been and remains committed to serving the needs of New York firefighter companies,” said spokesman Greg Hare. “We are happy to have worked with the New York State Department of Financial Services to resolve this matter.”
AIG is a multinational finance and insurance corporation with operations in more than 80 countries. During the financial collapse of 2008, the company received a $180 billion federal bailout, and was taken over by the government.
The company returned to fully private control in 2012. In 2017, AIG held nearly 500 billion in assets.
Arch Insurance is part of Arch Capital Group Ltd., a Bermuda-based company with global sales of insurance, reinsurance and mortgage insurance. The company has more than $32 billion in assets, according to its website.