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Wednesday, January 9, 2019

SACRAMENTO—Wells Fargo has agreed to pay California $5 million to settle allegations that it opened insurance policies for its customers and charged them without their consent.

The San Francisco-based company agreed to give up its insurance licenses for two years and to pay another $5 million if it ever wants to sell insurance in California again.

Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones accepted the settlement on Wednesday. He says company representatives issued about 1,500 insurance policies without the consent of customers. The settlement is part of a massive fake-accounts scandal that has tarnished the reputation of one of the nation's largest banks.

Wells Fargo spokeswoman Catherine Pulley says the company has worked to make things right for customers and earn back their trust. It previously stopped issuing new insurance policies.

More than 92 percent of California is considered abnormally dry, or in moderate, severe or extreme drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, a project of several federal agencies and University of Nebraska-Lincoln. That's up from 56 percent a year ago.

California typically gets about two-thirds of its annual rainfall between December and March.

A storm is expected to drop snow and rain on much of Northern California, including the Sierra, this weekend and into next week, the National Weather Service said Thursday.

At Phillips Station, a water measurement site near Lake Tahoe, officials on Thursday measured 25.5 inches (65 centimeters) of snow and a snow water equivalent of 9 inches (23 centimeters)—about 80 percent of average for the early January survey.

“We still have three wet season months ahead of us, so there's time for the snowpack to build and improve before it begins to melt, which usually starts happening around April 1,” Michael Anderson, climatologist for the water department, said in a statement.