Got an insurance complaint?
Do you think your insurance company has done you wrong? Try your state insurance department when you need some insurance-related justice.
Each state maintains its own insurance commission or department. These agencies are also your go-to resource when you are having trouble with your insurer or insurance agent. While states have their own statutes that define “unfair practices” of insurance companies and insurance agents, they generally take complaints about the following matters:
· Denial of claims
· Slow payment of claims
· Cancellation of policy
· Premium disputes
· Unsatisfactory settlements
Your state insurance agency's Web site will likely have specific details on what qualifies as an unfair practice and how to file a complaint. They generally accept insurance complaints online, through the mail or over the phone. If you are sending documentation to support your claim, remember to never send original paperwork. Here are links to state departments of insurance.
Once the department has received your complaint, it will most likely contact the insurance company or agent to give them an opportunity to respond. The insurer may work to resolve the issue voluntarily or the insurance department may take action if it determines that state law was broken. However, insurance departments can’t represent you in court of you are involved in a legal action against your insurance company.
Insurance departments can, however, fine insurance companies, revoke the license of agents and even revoke the license of insurance companies (in extreme cases).
There are some insurance matters that don’t fall under the jurisdiction of a state insurance department. They include complaints about health insurance at self-funded employers and complaints regarding federal insurance laws such as COBRA, HIPAA and ERISA.
Use insurance company complaint information to shop wisely
The best way to avoid a complaint is to purchase policies from insurance companies that have stellar reputations. Many state insurance departments issue annual reports detailing the number of complaints it has received during the past year for each insurer licensed in the state. This is the best way to get insight into an insurance company’s customer service; no one rates customer service for all insurers, although J.D. Power and Associates provides various ratings of large insurers.
In addition, make sure you’re buying from a company that’s financially stable. Financial strength ratings from Standard & Poor’s are available from Insure.com.