One of the nation’s largest insurance companies has agreed to pay a $95,000 fine and rebate dozens of Montanans to resolve a dispute with the office of Montana Insurance Commissioner Monica Lindeen, which alleged the company was shortchanging Montana auto accident victims.

Chief Legal Counsel for the Montana Insurance Commissioner, Jesse Laslovich, said Safeco was playing the numbers, using a tactic called 'comparative negligence'.

"With comparative negligence, they were able to assess fault on the consumer a certain percent," Laslovich said. "For example, if you're in an accident, they say you're 25 percent responsible, so we're reducing your claim by 25 percent. In the cases we looked at, that reduction was not supported factually. Obviously, Safeco thought there was some exposure there which is why they paid a fairly large fine of $95,000, and they refunded money back to the 15 families we identified that were taken advantage of."

Laslovich said the company will now be very closely monitored in the future to ensure that the practice does not occur again.