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Texans likely to receive Farmers auto insurance refunds

For the second time in six months, Farmers Insurance Group has found itself in a giving mood — but only because of violations caused by "human error."

Farmers and its subsidiaries revealed their problems to the Texas Department of Insurance (DOI) on Aug. 4. The companies admit to raising premiums and overcharging policyholders who had been involved in accidents by not removing the surcharge 36 months after the accident occurred.

Farmers also admits that it violated the Texas Insurance Code and the Texas Automobile Rules and Ratings Manual numerous times. Farmers Insurance Exchange, Mid-Century, Texas Farmers Insurance Co., and Farmers Texas County Mutual Insurance Co. — all part of Farmers Insurance Group — likely will refund overcharges to their policyholders.

Bob Huxel, a spokesperson for Farmers, says the insurers hope to know the number of policyholders affected and the extent of the overcharges by mid-September. Huxel says the overcharges were "human error," although he is not sure who is supposed to add and remove surcharges properly.

An administrative hearing is set for Nov. 14, at which the DOI will determine what Farmers will do to remedy the situation. Lee Jones, a spokesperson for the DOI, says a fine against Farmers is possible, but the DOI normally likes to make sure consumers will recoup any losses they had as a result of an insurer's mistake.

Back in March, Mid-Century Insurance Co., a subsidiary of Farmers, announced that it would refund approximately $11 million to Texas auto insurance policyholders because it mistakenly overcharged them.


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