ALBANY, N.Y. — Thousands of automobile owners nationwide will share in a $40 million settlement with State Farm Mutual Insurance Co. over the company’s handling of titles to vehicles totaled in accidents.
About 30,000 consumers nationwide may be eligible for payments ranging from $400 to $10,000, depending on the value of their vehicle. Most payments will be between $800 and $1,850, officials said.
Hundreds of consumers in Washington will be eligible for the payments, according to a press release from the state Attorney General’s office.
The settlement includes 49 states and the District of Columbia. Only Indiana opted out of the settlement.
The case began after State Farm approached the states and indicated that, after an internal review, it couldn’t confirm that it had properly titled vehicles it had assumed after damage or theft, said Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller.
In most states, insurance companies taking ownership of vehicles in such situations must declare on the title whether the car was “damaged” or is “salvage.” That means future purchasers of the vehicle would know it was listed as a total loss in an accident, a fact that can affect its value, said Christine Pritchard, a spokeswoman for New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer.
State Farm’s records showed that it had properly titled about 2.4 million vehicles in recent years, but that a smaller number were not properly titled.
The company is working with state motor vehicle departments to determine who will receive compensation for buying a car they didn’t realize had been in a serious accident.
Current owners eligible for compensation will be contacted by their state attorney general’s office by the fall, authorities said. Consumers should receive the payment later this year or in early 2006.
State Farm will also pay $1 million for consumer education, future consumer litigation, public protection, local consumer aid funds, and attorney fees and costs. Washington state will receive $15,000 of that money.
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe now to get breaking news alerts in your email inbox
Get breaking news delivered to your inbox as it happens.