The Texas Department of Insurance reported that more than $56 million was returned to Texas consumers during the past year as a result of actions by TDI’s Consumer Protection Division, a record amount for the agency.
The money came from premium refunds and additional claim payments to consumers that were recovered through TDI investigations of complaints against insurers and agents. TDI’s Consumer Protection staff resolved more than 24,000 insurance complaints last year.
More than 1,800 of those complaints and $26.9 million in payments were related to insurance claims from Hurricane Rita, which struck the Texas coast on September 24, 2005. Rita followed close on the heels of Hurricane Katrina, which struck neighboring Louisiana on August 29, 2005. TDI sent close to 300 staff members to areas affected by the two storms.
Working in teams, TDI staff volunteered at Disaster Recovery Centers to provide direct, one-on-one assistance and information to people affected by the storms. Disaster volunteers also delivered water and ice to those without power, answered inquiries via TDI’s toll-free Consumer Help Line, developed Internet resource pages, resolved disaster-related insurance complaints, inspected property damage, conducted educational outreach events, and joined staff from state and federal agencies at the State Operations Center.
In addition, two teams of TDI volunteers from Consumer Protection were dispatched to work at the Louisiana insurance department in February and March to assist Louisiana consumers with outstanding complaints and insurance problems arising from Hurricane Katrina.
“The Consumer Protection Division is the leading edge of our disaster response efforts,” said Insurance Commissioner Mike Geeslin. “They can hit the ground running when a special situation arises and deal with a multitude of issues and problems. They represent the very best in public service and apply that same dedication to meeting the needs of consumers year-round.”
Consumers may contact TDI’s Consumer Protection Division through the agency’s Consumer Help Line at 1-800-252-3439. Phone lines are staffed from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Central Time, Monday through Friday. Consumer information and publications are also available on the TDI Web site at www.tdi.state.tx.us.
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