Some of the insurance brokers and carriers under investigation in New York Attorney General Eliot L. Spitzer's probe of steering and bid-rigging are major players in the Washington area insurance market.
Marsh & McLennan Cos., the New York-based firm that Spitzer charged last week with soliciting fake bids and accepting kickbacks from corporate liability carriers, is the second-biggest insurance broker in the metropolitan area, according to a ranking of premium volume by the Washington Business Journal.
No. 1 Aon Corp. and No. 3 Willis Group have been subpoenaed by Spitzer's office but have not been charged.
American International Group, which was cited but not charged in the Marsh complaint, was the largest property and casualty insurer in the District, fifth in Maryland and seventh in Virginia last year, according to statistics provided by the Insurance Information Institute, a trade group.
Ace Ltd., another firm cited but not charged, is among the top 20 carriers in all three jurisdictions. The Marsh complaint cited e-mails from executives at AIG and Ace in which they discussed providing sham bids to help Marsh steer complaints elsewhere.
Both companies have renounced paying the "contingent commissions" -- bonuses for high-volume or high-quality business -- that Spitzer blames for the alleged bid-rigging.
Spitzer and regulators in California and Connecticut say they are looking beyond corporate casualty and liability insurance to health, life and automobile insurance, although none have brought fraud charges in those categories.
AIG was third in the District and fifth in Maryland in the life and health insurance category, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.
The Metropolitan Life Insurance Co., third in Maryland and fourth in Virginia and the District, and Cigna Corp. -- third in the District -- have acknowledged receiving subpoenas, but it is not clear whether Spitzer is simply seeking information or building a case against them. Aetna, a big area health insurance provider, has also said it received a subpoena.
Other major Washington area carriers may survive the scandal unscathed. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co., which is tops in property and liability insurance in Virginia and Maryland and fifth in the District, does not use brokers and sells to the public through agents who offer only its products. Allstate Insurance Co., which is also in the top five in both Virginia and Maryland, has a similar arrangement.
Many of the region's big life and health insurance carriers, including Aegon USA Inc., Anthem Inc. and New York Life Insurance Co., said they have not been subpoenaed by Spitzer's office. Several large regional brokers also said they have not heard from New York.
"I hope we don't," said Alan J. Zuccari, president and chief executive of Hamilton Insurance Agency in Fairfax, which is ninth in the region. He said contingent commissions have declined since 2001 and are now a very small part of the business.
Staff researcher Richard Drezen contributed to this report.