Del. Regulator Plans Online Shopping Service, More Consumer Help

February 15, 2006

Delaware Insurance Commissioner Matt Denn asked for additional staff to investigate complaints against insurance companies and agents as well as fund an Internet insurance rate comparison service that would be the only one of its kind in the country.

Denn’s proposed Fiscal Year 2007 budget is funded completely by fees and examination charges to insurance companies and agents and contains no taxpayer money from the state General Fund, he told members of the Joint Finance Committee.

“As you will recall, last year I withdrew a request from the prior commissioner for General Fund revenue for FY06,” said Denn, who took office in the middle of the budget cycle a year ago. “For FY07 and into the foreseeable future, I see no need for taxpayer money to be used to run the Department of Insurance.”

Highlights of Denn’s presentation and request include:

Over the last year, the department has hired a new consumer services director and converted three existing job positions to consumer investigators in order to better handle consumer cases.

The Commissioner requested the creation of two additional consumer investigators in order to handle the increasing caseload of complaints and questions being generated by the department’s increased focus on consumers.

Travel expenses for the department were cut 33 percent from previous years and the savings used to fund consumer activities.

The department has begun development of a website to compare sample insurance premiums from all Delaware insurance companies, which would be the most extensive in the country, starting with auto and homeowners insurance. Auto insurance rate comparisons must be based on hypothetical customer profiles of age, gender, driving record, vehicle and other factors and most states provide fewer than 10 sample profiles. In order to create comparisons that are more likely to reflect a consumer’s experience, Denn said the Delaware site is being designed to incorporate more than a hundred profiles.

In addition, Denn said the site is being developed to allow consumers to “request a personalized quote from one, two, a few or all of the companies in Delaware.” No other state insurance department provides such a service.

The commissioner requested the creation of one new staff position to create and maintain this extensive website service and to manage the rest of the department’s recently expanded web site as well.

“We are also working on some other ideas as to how to use one-time funds we have available during the current fiscal year in a way that benefits policyholders, and I will be asking for full General Assembly approval for those,” he said. “I have accomplished many of my goals over the last year, though there is still plenty I want to do.”

Source: Delaware Insurance Dept.

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