Montana Regulators Make It Easier for Consumers to File Complaints

Montana RecoveriesMontana regulators have introduced an online form for consumer complaints about insurance after 2011 saw a 27 percent increase in funds recovered for policyholders as a result of wrongfully denied claims and improperly issued policies.

The state Commissioner of Securities and Insurance (CSI) recouped $4.7 million on behalf of consumers of auto, home and other types of coverage last year—a $1 million hike from 2010. CSI officials say the new paperless complaint forms are meant to make it easier for consumers who suspect they are being treated unfairly by their coverage providers to alert regulators.

“Things may change, but there will always be complaints,” Lucas Hamilton, CSI communications director, said in a phone interview. “If there is a case of wrongdoing on the part of the insurance provider or whatever the case may be, we can help resolve that issue in a timely fashion.”

Officials said the complaints are largely the result of improper claims denials, policies for no down payment auto insurance, homeowner and other types of coverage that were misrepresented by companies or issued in error and consumer misunderstanding of contract language.

CSI resolved nearly 1,000 complaints involving all types of coverage from January through July of last year, with officials reporting that 9 of 10 cases were settled without litigation.

“Insurance can be incredibly complicated, so it’s important to get help when you have questions or problems with your policy,” Commissioner Monica J. Lindeen said in a news release.

Until now, Montana residents seeking to air a grievance about coverage-related matters had to file complaints by mail or fax or by scanning a form and emailing it to CSI. The online process is expected to save the state agency and consumers time and resources.

“Going paperless is as good for our budget as it is for our consumers and industry,” Lindeen said.

CSI officials say the online form—available for free on the agency’s public website—supplements other efforts to streamline the complaints process, which have included stepped-up technology and community education.

Montana regulators have seen a steady increase in benefits recovered on behalf of consumers, which totaled $3.1 million in 2009 and $3.7 million the following year.

Officials encourage state residents with questions or concerns about coverage-related issues to contact CSI.

About Matthew Morisset
Matthew Morisset is a proud alumnus of the University of Redlands, where he obtained a degree in English Literature. Utilizing his passion for analysis and writing, Matthew looks for important trends in the auto insurance industry and their implications for consumers and the market as a whole.

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