TDI Consumer Protection Recovers $48M for Texans

September 18, 2003

More than $48 million was returned to Texas consumers during the past year as a result of actions by the Consumer Protection Division of the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI), the agency announced today. The money came from premium refunds and additional claim payments to consumers that were recovered through TDI investigations of claims disputes.

TDI answered a record number of inquiries in 2003, responding to more than 650,000 telephone and company profile inquiries through its Consumer Help Line and Internet site, up from 621,000 in 2002. It resolved more than 41,000 complaints during the past year, with an average resolution time of 55 days. Last year, 34,000 complaints were resolved.

“The Consumer Protection Division is the focal point for consumer assistance at the Texas Department of Insurance and these dedicated men and women represent the best in public service,” said Insurance Commissioner Jose Montemayor. “The work the Consumer Protection Division has done over the past year is nothing short of extraordinary, and I’m very proud of their efforts.”

Other record marks for TDI’s Consumer Protection Division included distributing more than 800,000 insurance rate guides (up from 652,000 a year ago) and more than 2.7 million publications (up from 2.2 million last year). TDI also reviewed more than 6,100 insurance advertisements to ensure they were in compliance with state laws and TDI rules. These ads include brochures, phone and sales scripts, agent presentations, newspaper, magazine, radio and TV ads, form letters, illustrations, and Web pages.

TDI’s Legal and Compliance Division also returned money to Texas pocketbooks last year. The division obtained $19,857,601 in restitution for Texas consumers from insurance carriers and agents doing business in Texas last year. That figure does not include the record $117.5-million settlement with Farmers Insurance for unfair and discriminatory pricing practices. The Division also ordered an additional $14,700,597 in penalties.

“The Legal and Compliance staff’s oversight of insurance companies and agents requires tireless dedication and watchfulness,” Montemayor said. “Their work on behalf of all Texans deserves special notice and attention.”

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