Dec 28, 2022
Because insurance is controlled at the state level, each state and the District of Columbia each have their own insurance departments specifically designed to assist individuals like yourself. One overarching responsibility, regulating insurance to protect customers, is within the purview of each department. To achieve this goal, they serve multiple functions, including the licensing of insurance companies and agents, the regulation of insurance policies and rates, the review of the practices of insurance companies, and the provision of services to customers through education and the resolution of complaints.
Although there are numerous parallels, how the states choose to perform these functions is quite different from one another. For instance, while many state insurance departments have websites, the products and services found on such websites vary greatly.
Recent research evaluated the usefulness of these websites for clients and found that the average insurance department scored only 60% on characteristics including the availability of complaint data, premium comparison tools, consumer education, and customer service.
This research implies that you could reside in a state with a comprehensive insurance department website. In such a case, you will discover the resources you need to obtain answers to a good number of your insurance queries, in addition to other information. If the information you need is unavailable on your state's website, you may contact the relevant department by phone or email. In any scenario, the Department of Insurance in your state can assist you with the following matters and questions.
The insurance department should be able to assist you if you have a question about your policy or a claim or if you need help understanding the fundamentals of car, house, health, or life insurance. Many offer customer service hotlines that were established particularly for this purpose. Most of them also include insurance buying guides, a dictionary of insurance words, and a section for frequently asked questions on their websites to educate customers.
In addition to providing an insurance buyers guide or offer advice on selecting the appropriate insurance, some insurance departments also show pricing comparisons and exchange complaint data.
These tools for comparing rates differ from requesting a quotation since various criteria determine the cost of an insurance policy. However, they may assist in locating carriers in your ZIP code that have a history of providing customers with reduced pricing. Additionally, several of these bodies collaborate to exchange complaint data from insurance companies. This indicates that you can evaluate the number of complaints received by each insurance provider and use them as criteria when selecting a carrier.
It is the responsibility of state insurance departments to investigate complaints lodged against insurers, and the majority of state agencies enable you to lodge complaints against insurers online. It's possible that the complaint is directed at an insurance company, an agency, or even just a single agent. The following are examples of common complaints: unfair claims rejections, delays in claim processing, a refusal to provide insurance, exorbitant fees or penalties, unfair settlement offers, higher premiums without notice, unfair policy cancellations, and accusations of fraud.
On their own websites, every state has a license lookup function. This enables you to verify the current licensing status of an insurance agent, firm, or both by entering the name of the entity in question. You will also be able to discover, in many instances, whether or not the agent or firm was subject to any enforcement proceedings that were taken against them.
Call your state's insurance department if the website needs to include the tool or information you are looking for. The person on the other end of the line may, in many instances, provide answers to your queries. If they are not, they should be able to point you in the direction of someone who is.
You can call or escalate request, just as you would, with any other customer service if you do not believe you are receiving the answer you are entitled to. And since your tax dollars help finance this department, you should feel empowered to ask for any services it may be missing because you helped pay for them with your money.