The Missouri Department of Insurance reports that in 2009 it returned $14.4 million to consumers who filed complaints.
The money was recovered from insurance companies and represents a $2 million increase over the amount recovered in 2008. It was returned as a result of the department’s mediation efforts on behalf of consumers who had filed complaints. The total is the highest ever, according to department records.
The most common reasons for complaints to the department included denial of claims, claims delays, and unsatisfactory offers. The department recorded the most complaints in the following types of insurance: health, auto and homeowners.
Some notable recoveries from the past three months:
- After a fire destroyed their house, a family of four was running into trouble getting their homeowners insurance claim paid. The department got involved, and the insurer has now paid more than $900,000 on this claim.
- A long-term care insurer attempt to collect an $8,600 from a policyholder who believed she had paid her premiums in full. After receiving her complaint, the department found the company had improperly explained the premiums. The company forgave the bill and stopped the collection attempts.
- A homeowners insurance company denied a claim to rebuild a destroyed garage, saying the family had not filed the claim on time. The department’s investigator found the claim was filed on time, but the insurance agent waited to turn it in to the company. The company agreed to pay the $5,500 claim.
For the year, the department fielded more than 4,800 formal complaints and assisted 3,800 consumers in writing and another 27,000 over the telephone. The number of formal complaints is a 20 percent increase over 2008’s total.
Source: Missouri Department of Insurance, www.insurance.mo.gov.
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