Wells Fargo Forced Unwanted Auto Insurance On 800,000 Borrowers
One year after Wells Fargo was busted in the biggest post-financial crisis scandal, when Warren Buffett’s favorite bank was exposed for fraudulently “cross-selling” bank products, including creating millions of credit cards and bank accounts to its customers that were never requested, and which cost the former CEO his job, Wells has just been busted yet again for another major scandal: the NYT’s Gretchen Morgenson writes that more than 800,000 people who took out car loans from Wells Fargo were also charged for auto insurance they did not need, and some are still paying for it, according to a 60-page internal report prepared by Oliver Wyman for Wells execs.
The report, which was prepared by the consulting firm Oliver Wyman, looked at insurance policies sold to Wells customers from January 2012 through July 2016. The insurance, which the bank required, was more expensive than auto insurance that customers often already had obtained on their own.
Wells Fargo automatically imposed the insurance through its Dealer Services unit. Its website says it has more than four million customers and provides a variety of banking services to 14,000 auto dealers around the nation. It says the company’s lender-placed auto insurance “may be considerably more expensive than insurance you can obtain on your own.” The NYT adds that “such policies typically cost more than $1,000 a year, not counting interest. (Customers could pay them in full or finance them over time.) If a car was repossessed, the bank might charge a reinstatement fee of as much as $500, so a borrower could face $1,500 in charges.”
It gets better: the expense on the unneeded insurance (which covered collision damage) has pushed some 274,000 Wells Fargo customers into delinquency and resulted in almost 25,000 wrongful vehicle repossessions. And the cherry on top: “among the Wells Fargo customers hurt by the practice were military service members on active duty.”
Not even bothering to lie, when asked about the revelations in the Wyman report, Wells officials confirmed that the improper insurance practices took place but said the bank was determined to make customers whole.
“We have a huge responsibility and fell short of our ideals for managing and providing oversight of the third-party vendor and our own operations,” Franklin R. Codel, the head of consumer lending at Wells Fargo, said in an interview. “We self-identified this issue, and we made the right business decisions to end the placement of the product.”
In other words, oops: we were busted for doing almost the exact same thing a year ago and we swore it would never happen again, but now that it has happened again, we will make everyone whole, promise.