Each state has an agency to regulate and police that state’s insurance industry. This agency is called the Department of Insurance, Division of Insurance, Insurance Bureau, or something similar. Each state’s Department of Insurance “DOI” protects the public interest and ensures the fair and equitable treatment of the insurance consumer. Each DOI also confirms insurance carriers operating in their state are operating responsibly and financially able to pay claims.
If you have insurance related questions or issues, check with the Financial Services Division within your own state’s Department of Insurance. They will be able to provide sources of help. For instance, you can:
- Locate information on individual insurance companies and agents. With this information, the financial stability of a company can be assessed to determine its ability to pay claims. An insurance company’s financial rating and creditworthiness (which affects the ability to pay claims) is found at ambest.com. This site may help you make a more informed decision regarding which company you wish to purchase a policy from. A low rated company might take more shortcuts and find ways not to pay a claim in comparison to a more reputable and well-ranked company.
- Search companies to compare rates. Make sure you are comparing the same coverages and deductibles between companies. Of course, make sure proper coverage is being considered based upon your individual needs.
- Find ratings of insurance carriers and whether they have any regulatory actions against them. The DOI tracks complaints filed against all insurance carriers and uses this as a guide to take action and investigate the standard claims practices of those violating the rules.
- Report any fraudulent actions.
- File a complaint against an insurance company if they are treating you unfairly. Most states have easy-to-use insurance complaint forms online. Be careful to include the correct name of the company and relevant information; otherwise, it will take longer to process. Remember, be guided by facts when filing such a complaint, not your personal feelings, which may be biased and not be strictly correct. Consider discussing any potential action with your attorney or having your attorney file a complaint on your behalf. Filing a complaint does not guarantee results. The DOI might not take immediate action. They might not take any action at all. The DOI may base their involvement on whether it is a 1st party claim (your own insurance carrier) or a 3rd party claim (the at-fault party’s insurance carrier). Regardless of whether you get the results you want; the insurance company will have a complaint on its record. The number of complaints received by a particular company is tracked and may lead to a future investigation of all complaints as a whole. Keep in mind, rules vary by state.
We hope this glimpse into the workings of the Department of Insurance has been helpful. Should you have any questions or need our assistance, please do not hesitate to contact our office.