Copyright 2010 States News Service States News Service
May 10, 2010 Monday
LENGTH: 502 words
HEADLINE: INSURANCE COMMISSIONER’S OFFICE HELPED CONSUMERS RECOVER OVER $4.3 MILLION IN 2009
BYLINE: States News Service
DATELINE: MADISON, WI
The following information was released by the Wisconsin Office of the Commissioner of Insurance:
The Office of the Commissioner of Insurance (OCI) recently released its 2009 Insurance Complaints and Administrative Actions report. The annual report provides a summary of the complaints received by OCI across all lines of insurance covering insurer activities such as underwriting and rating, marketing and claims processing. During 2009, over 8,400 consumers contacted OCI to file a complaint. OCI assisted consumers in recovering more than $4.3 million from insurers and issued over $400,000 in forfeitures.
“Consumer complaints are an important tool to assist us in monitoring the insurance marketplace,” said Sean Dilweg, Commissioner of Insurance. “Every complaint that the office receives is closely examined to ensure that consumers have received proper treatment under the law.”
A complaint is defined as any written communication that expresses dissatisfaction with an insurance company or agent. The report lists those insurance companies who have had at least five complaints, had written at least $100,000 of premium in the state and had a complaint ratio that exceeds the statewide average for that specific type of insurance.
The report is available in both English and Spanish and categorizes complaints by the type of coverage – auto, property and casualty, accident and health, life, and annuities, and also by the reason for the complaint – underwriting and rating, marketing and sales, claim handling, policyholder service or “other.”
Not every complaint means a company violated state statutes, but a complaint could be indicative of a developing problem in the market place requiring regulatory attention or that an insurer may have issues, for example, in communicating with its policyholders or training its agents.
Complaints may be filed electronically through OCI’s Web site. Consumers who file a complaint should expect to receive an acknowledgement from OCI within 10 days and, for most complaints, a response within 60 days.
“Although the number of complaints about a company can be used as one factor in choosing an insurance company, it should not be the only factor and consumers should consider other factors such as cost, the company’s reputation for claims payment and customer service and the competence of the agents before making a selection,” Dilweg encouraged.
Consumers interested in obtaining a copy of the 2009 Insurance Complaints and Administrative Actions report or other free publications from OCI can visit the OCI Web site at oci.wi.gov, write to OCI Publications, P.O. Box 7873, Madison, WI 53707-7873, or call 800-236-8517.
Created by the Legislature in 1871, Wisconsin’s Office of the Commissioner of Insurance (OCI) was vested with broad powers to ensure that the insurance industry responsibly and adequately met the insurance needs of Wisconsin citizens. Today, OCI’s mission is to lead the way in informing and protecting the public and responding to its insurance needs.
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