Documents show secret understandings by Farm Bureau about Barton Mutual
The independent agents who are interveners in the Barton Mutual receivership case recently received copies of documents from the Department of Insurance, Financial Institutions and Professional Registration in response to their official requests. These documents show secret understandings by Missouri Farm Bureau (MFB) that were not disclosed in the Plan of Rehabilitation filed with the court and have not been repudiated by the rehabilitator.
The Order Approving the Plan of Rehabilitation dated Dec. 14, 2011, states that "other than expressly found otherwise in this order, no rights, duties, priviledges or obligations of Barton, Cape and Gateway will be abrogated or amended by or as a result of the implementation of this plan." This shoud have protected the agency agreements. Click here to see the order.
But a letter dated Oct. 13, 2011, from MFB Chief Financial Officer Randall Campbell to the department's chief financial examiner stated it was MFB's intent that "Barton's policyholders will be served exclusively by MFB's current statewide network of captive agent/employees." Click here to see the letter.
In a subsequent letter dated Nov. 7, 2011, MFB stated, "It is contemplated that after a transition period, all Barton agent agreements would be terminated and that MFB would be the sole agent for Barton." Click here to see the letter.
Other communications released by the department show there were data transfers of Barton Mutual policyholder information to MFB agents. The documents also show that department officials created phone scripts for Barton Mutual employees to contact policyholders who exercised their "opt-out" rights after receiving privacy nhotices in an apparent attempt to change their minds. The documents also show that department officials approved of Barton Mutual and MFB disregarding "opt-out" notices if the form signed and returned by the policyholder was incomplete in any way (without warning the policyholders or the independent agents about such a strict interpretation and the need for letter-perfect compliance).
What the future holds for Barton Mutual remains to be seen, but recent disclosures should leave no doubt about who should be held responsible if the rehabilitation fails.
MAIA will continue to keep members informed as to any future developments in this matter.