N.J. Dept. Posts Insurance Company Reviews

September 7, 2004

Residents wanting to learn more about an insurance company they do business with can now access market conduct information online. Sixteen insurance company examinations are on the New Jersey Department’s Web site and available for public review.

“The Department protects consumers in the marketplace in a variety of ways,” Commissioner Holly Bakke said. “The market conduct examination is a valuable consumer protection tool used to determine whether consumers are being treated fairly and to correct improper company business practices.”

As a result of the current exams, $18.6 million was returned to policyholders and companies paid $275,000 in fines.

The Department’s Market Conduct Unit within the Office of Consumer Protection Services conducts on-site reviews of insurance company business practices to determine if they are in accordance with New Jersey laws. The unit examines life, health, property/casualty and managed care companies, with specialty lines being reviewed as appropriate.

Based on the examination, the Department issues a report that includes findings and recommendations to correct company procedures that adversely affect consumers or do not comply with New Jersey laws. Significant infractions may result in administrative actions including fines, payments to consumers or additional benefits to policyholders.

In addition to being able to read or download a market conduct report, visitors to the Department’s Web site will be able to see at a glance whether the Department made recommendations, ordered a company to remediate a situation or business practice, or was fined.

Today’s posting includes reports on the following companies: JIMCOR E&S, Physicians Health Services, State Farm Indemnity, Colonial Penn, Proformance, Metropolitan Life Insurance Co., Hanover Insurance Co., Horizon Healthcare, Selective Insurance Co., The Turner Group, Allstate New Jersey, Metropolitan Property/Casualty Insurance Co., Prudential Property/Casualty Insurance Co., Liberty Mutual Fire Insurance Co., Chubb Insurance Co., and K. McCoy Agency.

“Consumers would not be aware of market activities that may be improper or place an unfair burden on them had it not been for our examinations of companies’ practices,” Bakke said. “The use of market conduct reports promotes fair competition and protects consumers from violation of their rights under the state’s insurance laws.”

Market conduct reports are just one way in which the Department monitors the insurance marketplace. It also monitors companies’ financial solvency, follows up on consumer complaints received by telephone, letter and e-mail, and interacts with consumers on a daily basis through its consumer centers based in Newark, Camden and Trenton.

In the first six months of 2004, the Department opened 6,070 complaint investigations and finalized 5,341, recovering $2,197,579 for consumers.

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