State AG Coakley reaches $14.6M settlement with Commerce Insurance for motorcycle policies

Thousands of Massachusetts motorcycle owners will receive insurance refunds from the state's largest automobile insurer for overcharges on their policies, state Attorney General Martha Coakley announced Monday.

The refunds come from a $14.6 million settlement with Commerce Insurance Co. filed Monday in Suffolk Superior Court.

Coakley's office says it represents the largest such agreement in the agency's four-year motorcycle insurance investigation. Nineteen companies have now settled with the state, totaling $57.4 million in refunds for more than 150,000 Massachusetts policies.

The attorney general's office says Commerce Insurance will issue refunds to more than 40,000 policyholders. The refunds will range from less than $50 to more than $1,200 and average about $360. The company, which is based in Webster and owned by the Spanish insurer Mapfre Group, will also pay the state $325,000.

Coakley's office accused Commerce Insurance of overcharging customers between 2002 and 2011 by using inflated and un-depreciated motorcycle values.

Dan Olohan, executive vice president and general counsel for Mapfre, said in a statement that the company enacted procedures in 2005 to address the issue. He added that the company has been working with Coakley's office to reach a resolution that was in the "best interest" of its customers

The industry-wide investigation stemmed from a complaint by a motorcycle owner who said he had been charged insurance as if his 1999 Harley Davidson was brand-new for at least five years. Amica, Arbella, Liberty Mutual and Pilgrim Insurance are among the other insurers that have reached settlements with the state.