JEFFERSON, Mo. – It was announced that Missouri consumers received approximately $25 million extra from their insurance companies last year thanks to efforts by the Missouri Department of Commerce & Insurance.
The money returned to consumers was due to the mediation work by the Consumer Affairs Division and efforts by the Market Regulation Division that ensured insurance companies were in compliance with Missouri insurance laws, according to a press release.
“One of our primary responsibilities is to protect Missouri consumers and ensure they are treated fairly by insurance companies,” said Chlora Lindley-Myers, director of the Missouri Department of Commerce & Insurance.
“We are a free resource to help people resolve any disputes they have with their insurance company.”
The press release states that the Consumer Affairs Division handled a total of 2,581 formal complaints and assisted approximately 20,000 consumers either through phone calls, written inquiries, or in person at outreach events in 2021.
Almost $15 million was returned to consumers through the Division with the largest number of complaints being accidents, health, and auto insurance.
“The Consumer Affairs Division was able to return large recoveries on several complaints related to life insurance and commercial property and casualty insurance, with one, in particular, totaling over $1 million,” Consumer Affairs Division Director Carrie Couch said.
“The largest recovery came early in 2021. While investigating a consumer complaint, the investigator determined other consumers may have been impacted by a company’s internal billing error. The company researched the issue and determined that nearly $3 million in claims had been processed incorrectly.”
The Department’s Market Regulation Division “focuses on identifying and resolving systemic issues that impact Missouri insurance consumers. In some instances, Market regulation actions may originate from consumer complaints that have been filed with the Department’s Consumer Affairs Division, the press release states.
“In other instances, the issues are identified through a review of insurance company filings and by monitoring insurance company activities in the insurance marketplace. In 2021, the Market Regulation Division recovered $10.8 million. That money went to 32,741 Missouri insurance consumers. Consumers benefit from restitution by receiving refunds from insurance companies for premium overcharges and by receiving payment from insurance companies for claims that were improperly denied or were underpaid.”
Lindley-Myers said that the “Market regulation serves two important roles in the insurance market. The first is to address issues that impact numerous consumers in the market and may involve violations of law that consumers may not know to complain about.“
“The second is to ensure a level playing field for all insurance companies, which encourages competition in the market. Missouri consumers directly benefit from a competitive insurance market when they have more choices in insurance products, companies, and better premiums.”
A list of enforcement and market regulation actions taken by the department is available on the department’s website. Consumers with complaints or questions about their insurance agent or company can call the department’s Insurance Consumer Hotline at 800-726-7390 or visit insurance.mo.gov.