The ads say you can get insurance for as low as $13, $14, $15 a month. The ads say they’ll even cover you if you have tickets, a DUI or accidents on your record.
Mary Reitzell says the $17 a month insurance ad she spotted in the Pennysaver was far cheaper than the $70 she was paying. Once she got down to the insurance broker’s office?
“They’re like wolves on sheep when you walk in there,” she recalls.
No $17 insurance was available for her. Instead she’d have to pay $80 in up front fees, then $67 a month. That was only if she lied saying she had a husband.
The Better Business Bureau’s Gary Almond says few people would ever qualify for these prices. He says these ads prey on the vulnerable.
“This is really victimizing people that don’t know any better; the young, the inexperienced, the desperate,” Almond said.
We had two of our interns call the ads in the Pennysaver. Neither of them could get the low rates. They were quoted anywhere from $30 to $45 a month. One operator admitted few people get the low rate.
Consumer attorney Stuart Talley calls this false and misleading advertising. His firm says these companies are not buying ads to sell you $15 policies. He says the ads are meant to get you to call, so they can sell you something far more expensive.
“If 1% of the people who call get that price, that’s not sufficient, it’s got to be a real number,” Tally said.
I asked how these insurance brokers can get away with this.
“Anybody can print anything they want. The question is who’s going to do something about it,” Almond responded.
The California Department of Insurance regulates the industry. Once we brought these ads to their attention, they started investigating.
“Our staff will sit down and pour through them with a fine tooth comb to see if there are any violations and if there are we will take all necessary action,” Spokesperson Ioannis Kazanis said.
Mary Reitzel calls these ads a joke.
We reached out to each company with ads seen in our story. Freeway Insurance recently acquired Cost U Less. They say more than 5-thousand consumers have received coverage at the $15 rate. They add that they are perplexed anyone would think their ads are deceptive.