Ohio Insurance Director Ann Womer Benjamin announced the Department saved consumers $8.7 million in 2002. The Department’s Office of Consumer Services, which also includes the Ohio Senior Health Insurance Information Program (OSHIIP), is the largest consumer protection unit in the state.
The top 10 categories of insurance consumer complaints received by the Department in 2002 were as follows:
1. Health insurance claim denial (2,146);
2. Health insurance claim delay (785);
3. Unsatisfactory auto settlement offer (660);
4. Auto insurance claim delay (606);
5. Auto insurance claim denial (424);
6. Health insurance coverage (308);
7. Auto insurance cancellation (290);
8. Homeowners claim denial (240);
9. Auto premium & rating issues (230);
10. Life & annuities misrepresentation (224).
While the total number of complaints held relatively steady across most categories on insurance, the number of complaints about homeowners insurance jumped 45 percent compared to 2001. Specifically, complaints regarding cancellation or non-renewal of homeowners insurance increased 57 percent from 2001 to 2002. For both years, the majority of complaints referenced health and automobile insurance: health claim denials, health claim delays, and unsatisfactory automobile settlement offers shared the top three spots for the second year in a row.
“Many homeowners insurers have adopted a hair trigger regarding customers who file claims – in many cases companies have changed their criteria for canceling or non-renewing policies for customers who file claims,” Womer Benjamin said. “It is a troubling trend that we are watching very closely.”
“The homeowners insurance market has not been profitable in Ohio since 1995,” Womer Benjamin continued. “In 2001, insurers paid out $1.28 in claims for every dollar in premium they collected.”
Last year, the Consumer Services Division responded to 137,756 phone calls, interviewed 239 consumers who visited the Department in person, received 10,803 written complaints and responded to 5,518 on line inquires or complaints. Department staff resolved 10,300 consumer complaints during 2002.
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