According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) as of August 2019, there were over 100,000 complaints filed against providers and closed in 2018. Luckily, each state has a Department of Insurance (DOI) to assist consumers who’ve had their claims mishandled.
How do I file a complaint against an insurer?
Follow these steps to file a complaint with your state’s DOI:
Go to the NAIC website
Under Consumer complaints select your state and hit Go
Follow the instructions on your state’s page
Wait to hear back about your complaint
What information do I need to provide?
What you’re required to fill out will vary by your state, but there are some basics that you’ll likely need regardless of where you live. Keep the following handy when you’re going to file a complaint:
Your name and contact details
Address and phone number
Date of the loss
Agent or adjuster’s name
Policy start date
Policy cancellation date, if applicable
Details of the complaint
Any supporting documents
Your state’s DOI may be under another name
Not every state’s DOI is actually called the Department of Insurance. Some are the Insurance Department, Division of Insurance or — in Colorado’s case — the Department of Regulatory Agencies.
Each of these departments serve a similar function and will be where you file your complaint.
A few steps are generally required before you take your complaint to your state’s DOI.
Try to settle things directly with the insurer. Negotiating with your insurance provider is probably your best first step before filing a complaint. If you have an issue with the amount being paid out, billing, renewal or an adjuster’s assessment, those are disputes that can likely be handled without the state’s involvement.
Talk to your independent agent. Your agent has more of a vested interest in seeing your case settled than your state’s DOI, and you may be able to get a faster resolution than if you filed a complaint.
What can my state’s DOI do?
Your state’s DOI office is limited in how much action they can take against the insurance provider. For the most part, the DOI can’t do much more than investigate the complaint and ask for an answer from the insurer.Complaints filed against insurers with the state also become public record. That means others looking into the provider can look up the details of the complaint and how it was resolved.
What if I’m unsatisfied with the resolution?
The state won’t be able to provide legal advice, make liability decisions or address any issues that don’t have legal backing. That means if you’re unsatisfied with the resolution, you may need to speak with an attorney if you believe further action is necessary.
When will I hear back about my complaint?
The complaint process is different depending on the state you’re in, and that includes processing times. You’ll probably need to be patient when it comes to waiting for your complaint to be processed and closed. With the possibility of your state handling hundreds of other complaints, it may take some time for it to be processed.
To get an accurate read on how long it will take to get a resolution, email or call your state’s DOI. You may also be able to get an update on the status of a complaint you already filed.
How do I check complaints against an insurer?
As mentioned above, complaints filed against providers with the state become a matter of public record. An annual report can typically be found through your state’s DOI with information on how many complaints were filed for what type of coverage and against which insurance providers.
You can also use the resources provided by NAIC on its website. You’ll be able to select the report type and view how many complaints were filed against a company by state and coverage type.
Go to the NAIC website
Type the company name, select the type of insurance and your state and click Search
The time it takes to file a complaint can be significantly cut down by using online tools and having the appropriate documentation ready. Be sure you understand what your state’s DOI can and can’t do for you before you file, and be prepared to wait for a resolution.
Frequently asked questions
Each state has a slightly different process for accepting complaints. You may be able to file online depending on how your state handles complaints against insurers.
Whether a lawyer is necessary depends on your specific situation. If you believe the insurance provider has violated state law, it may be worth consulting with an attorney.
Check your state’s DOI page. You’ll likely find information on how to contact the department and inquire about your complaint.
No, your state’s DOI likely doesn’t provide legal representation. If you’re looking to file a lawsuit against the insurance provider, you’ll typically need to hire an attorney on your own.
Willam Eve is the country manager for Finder's Canada operations. He has previously held the positions of group publisher of insurance for Finder Australia and lead publisher for the Finder global team. William has a Bachelor of Communications from the University of Technology Sydney, Australia. He loves the challenge of launching Finder into new markets while helping grow Finder’s global team.
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