Trupanion said the problems happened years ago and the company is working to make sure they don’t occur again.
Trupanion, a Seattle company that is one of the nation’s largest pet-insurance providers, has been hit with a $150,000 fine for violating a slew of state laws and regulations several years ago.
Washington State Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler found Trupanion did not cancel policies in a timely manner after pets’ deaths, used the wrong company name when communicating with customers and refused to sell insurance to people without an email address. Kreidler announced the violations last week after an examination in September prompted by consumer complaints.
Kreidler outlined several other problems at the company: It charged unapproved rates about 600 times; it was inconsistent about refund policies; it failed to track complaints from consumers; it used false advertising and gave out discounts “in a discriminatory manner.”
It also employed unlicensed salespeople.
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“That’s a big one for us,” said Steve Valandra, a spokesman for the insurance commissioner. “That’s always a big red flag for anybody.”
A spokesperson for the underwriter, American Pet Insurance Company, which Trupanion owns, said in a statement that the problems occurred from 2012 to mid-2013, when it was a much smaller organization.
“Since then, we have collaborated closely with the Washington Office of the Insurance Commissioner to remediate and eliminate each of the identified issues, and we have improved our processes to prevent a repeat of the violations,” the statement said.
The company said it’s also working on an audit plan with the insurance commissioner as part of the agreement to pay the fine, and noted the violations were only an issue for its customers in Washington state.
If the problems resurface, it could be fined an additional $100,000.
“We’ll be monitoring that for a couple years to make sure they’ll be doing what they’re supposed to be doing,” Valandra said.
Trupanion, whose headquarters is in Georgetown, says it is the second-largest company of its kind in the country, with about 275,000 registered dogs, cats and other pets.
Valandra said the $150,000 fine is bigger than normal but noted it has issued a $1 million fine to a different, human insurance company in the past.
Trupanion went public about two years ago, and its shares closed Monday at $14.87, near the top of its 52-week range of $6.27 to $16.88.