The Montana State Auditor's Office recently announced up to 3,645 Montanans could be eligible to recoup money from a short-term health insurance scheme that ran from 2012-2016.
The auditor's office came to a $284,500 settlement with call centers, insurance companies and individuals who used fraudulent sales tactics to sell insurance policies to Montanans.
The auditor's office oversees securities and prosecutes fraud in Montana in order to protect consumers. The case was originally filed by the previous auditor's office and continued under current Auditor Matt Rosendale's administration.
Kyle Schmauch, communications director for the Montana State Auditor, said the case had been in the hopper since 2016.
"We got the names and addresses of these 3,600 people from company records," Schmauch said, though the auditor's office is unsure how many of them were sold policies under false pretenses or with misleading sales tactics. He estimated the number of people affected could range from a couple dozen to a couple thousand.
The auditor's office sent letters to the potentially affected Montanans, who will need to respond by Nov. 9 to be eligible for the restitution payments.
"We won't know the details until we get the letters out," Schmauch said.
Until the numbers are known, the timeline for payment to affected Montanans is in limbo.
"It will take at least a month, it could take up to a handful of months, but it will be less than six months," Schmauch said, adding that the timeframe will hinge on the number of people affected.
Schmauch also said the companies and individuals involved in the case had either changed their business practices or stopped doing business in Montana.
"You have to be really clear with their customers with what they're buying," Schmauch said. "Otherwise you're going to have a problem with our office."
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