Three Insurance Depts. Recovered More than $15 million in 2011

The amount of money recovered for consumers in 2011 by regulators in Louisiana, North Dakota and Arizona totaled more than $15 million, officials in those states recently reported.

Each state in the U.S. has an insurance department charged resolving disputes over claims and business conducted between insurers and policyholders. Many of those resolutions result in settlements or refunds for consumers.

Louisiana regulators returned more than $5.3 million to consumers in 2011 from about 13,200 inquiries and 3,400 complaints. Of the recovered funds, the state’s Office of Property /Casualty returned the second-highest amount of almost $1.7 million.

In North Dakota, regulators reported that they handled 7,200 phone inquiries and 214 formal complaints, recovering more than $5.6 million from those cases. The total included $1.4 million in “suspicious claims.”

Regulators there dealt with 75 complaints about auto insurers, by far the highest amount compared with other coverage types. Monies recovered in auto-related disputes was the second-highest dollar total, at about $66,100, compared with $69,700 recovered from disputes over homeowner’s coverage.

Regulators in Arizona recovered more than $7.5 million in 2011 from about 9,000 complaints from consumers. Audits of insurers in the state resulted in an additional $278,990 in consumer restitution and $873,000 in fines and penalties against insurers.

The reasons for complaints were largely because of delays in claims or claims processing, making up 35 percent of all inquiries, followed by in inadequate settlement offers, which made up about 1 in every 10 complaints.

Arizona’s breakdown of complaint types aligns with national data that showed that, between 2009 and 2011, the majority of complaints stemmed from consumers upset with denial of their claims or delays in their reimbursements, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC).

Consumers who get car insurance quotes online or through an agent may typically look to the cheapest company as their choice, but a company’s history with state regulators is just as important. Rock-bottom prices may mean higher customer dissatisfaction with claims at that company, so consumers should check this listing of state regulators and contact their state’s department for more background on the complaints and inquiries filed against their insurer.

About John Pirro
John Pirro is a licensed fire and casualty insurance agent specializing in various aspects of the auto insurance industry. He worked in the auto body repair industry before taking a reporting position at Online Auto Insurance News.

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