HELENA, Mont. – Under Commissioner Monica Lindeen’s direction, the Montana Commissioner of Securities and Insurance (CSI) Office achieved considerable success in 2009.
In 2009, the Securities Division at CSI took action against 16 respondents for violations of the Montana Securities Act. The division successfully negotiated settlement agreements with 21 respondents to pay a total of $121 million in restitution to Montana investors, and ordered fines totaling almost $2 million for violations of the Act.
Additionally, Commissioner Lindeen obtained an $80,000 grant from a national non-profit organization, the Investor Protection Trust, which funded a consumer-education tour entitled Securities Fraud – How to Smell a Rat in late September to seven cities and towns in northeastern Montana. The tour will continue in May 2010 to southeastern Montana.
In the late fall, CSI was handed a large victory when the Montana Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision in favor of the Securities Division regarding a past matter that clearly articulated the Division’s role in protecting investors. The first line of the decision reads “It requires but little appreciation…of what happened in this country during the 1920’s and 1930’s to realize how essential it is that the highest ethical standards prevail in every facet of the securities industry.”
The Montana Supreme Court decided with the Commissioner in two other cases this year regarding insurance. One case upheld the office’s authority to review certain insurance policy forms for compliance with Montana law and to approve, disapprove, and withdraw prior approval of insurance policy forms. The Court also upheld the Commissioner’s authority to require health insurers, regulated by the Commissioner, to comply with Montana law regarding subrogation. Subrogation is the legal process by which an insurance company, after paying a loss, seeks to recover the amount of the loss from another party.
In 2009, the Insurance Division at CSI handled over 1200 complaints from Montana consumers. The division was able to recover money on 426 of those complaints, which resulted in $3 million paid to consumers. The division has seen an increase in the number of illegal health plans being offered individuals and small businesses and expects this trend to increase in 2010. CSI handles complaints from all lines of insurance being sold to Montanans.
Commissioner Lindeen encourages Montanans to call her office before purchasing any new insurance or securities product to verify the legitimacy of the product and the company. CSI is responsible for licensing and regulating securities and insurance producers in Montana.
Consumers can call the office at 1800-332-6148 with questions regarding securities or insurance.