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Brown & Brown pays $5.8M to settle probe


TALLAHASSEE, Fla.--Brown & Brown Inc. has agreed to pay $5.8 million to resolve investigations by Florida officials over its acceptance of undisclosed contingent commissions, officials said late Friday.

Under terms of the settlement, reached with Florida Attorney General Charlie Crist, Florida Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher and Florida Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty, Brown & Brown agreed to reimburse approximately $4.8 million to up to 400 cities and counties in Florida.

The Daytona Beach, Fla.-based brokerage also must pay $1 million to the agencies for investigative costs, and it agreed to adhere to stricter compensation disclosure requirements. The settlement does not require Brown & Brown to cease collecting contingent commissions.

"Brown & Brown has fully cooperated with our agencies to reimburse cities and counties of Florida for excess fees and commissions it collected and has agreed to fully disclose all fees and commissions in the future," Mr. Gallagher said in a release.

Brown & Brown denied wrongdoing but agreed to reimburse its clients without any formal action taken by the three agencies, the statement said.

Calls into Brown & Brown for comment were not immediately returned.

Brown & Brown is the latest in a string of brokers to settle charges over its compensation practices with state authorities since New York Attorney General launched his lawsuit against Marsh & McLennan Cos. Inc. in 2004.