Analysis: 2011 a Record Low for Texas Auto Insurance Complaints

A recent analysis of the auto insurance complaints Texas regulators received in 2011 showed that motorists there submitted the fewest number of auto-related complaints since regulators began keeping those records in 1994.

The breakdown, released Monday by the Insurance Council of Texas (ICT), tracked the number of complaints that the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) received back to the first year that TDI began keeping records.

In 2011, the state’s consumers filed 1,414 complaints. The highest number of complaints was in 2002, according to the ICT, when 5,626 complaints were filed. The number of complaints has shrunk consistently since then, with the TDI seeing steep drops year after year between 2002 and 2005 and then gradual drops after that.

With 12.32 million vehicle policies in 2011, the number of complaints amounted to about 1 complaint for every 8,700 policies. In 1994, there was about 1 complaint for every 1,820 policies.

“We’d like to hear from consumers when they have any kind of problem with their insurance companies for two reasons: First, we can often help them,” said Jerry Hagins, a TDI spokesman. “We look over their policy with them, we can contact the company and many times we can help resolve the problem. The second reason is that it gives us a sense of problem areas and trends.”

When regulators receive these complaints, they post that state-specific data on their website for consumers to review.

Consumers who shop for Texas auto insurance policies should first reference the complaint indexes to get a feel for prospective insurers’ track records. Most complaints are related to delays in claim payments, according to the ICT, which added in its analysis that there were 325 insurers in 2011 offering personal vehicle policies in the Lone Star State.

“With the complaints that come into TDI, the state agency can show the few insurance companies that are not doing a good job in settling auto claims, and the complaint index ratio is the red flag,” ICT spokesman Mark Hanna said in a statement.

The disputes between consumers and insurers that TDI regulators resolve can often lead to reclaimed or returned payments for the policyholder. Last year, regulators returned close to $25 million to consumers in “additional claims payments and refunds,” according to Hagins.

About Charles Nguyen
Charles Nguyen is an enterprising journalist who reported for Patch.com and the Desert Dispatch and was the editor in chief of the Guardian (the twice-weekly newspaper at the University of California, San Diego) before coming to Online Auto Insurance News.

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