November 23, 2010

Department of Insurance doing more government business online

Innovative use of technology improves services to licensees, makes government faster, cheaper and easier

Jefferson City, Mo. - Responding to Gov. Jay Nixon's call to promote government efficiency, the Missouri Department of Insurance is leveraging technology to make the licensing of insurance agents more efficient, both for taxpayers and licensees.

Insurance agents and agencies can apply for or renew their license at the department's website, rather than mailing in a paper application packet and a check. The department in September launched a new Web page specifically for license renewals, insurance.mo.gov/renewin3. The page outlines three easy steps for renewing two-year insurance licenses.

"Gov. Nixon has directed state agencies to utilize technology at every opportunity," said John M. Huff, director of the Department of Insurance, Financial Institutions and Professional Registration. "Online licensing saves time and money and reduces paperwork, both for our department and for insurance professionals throughout Missouri."

Also in September, the department ended the practice of mailing a six-page renewal packet to insurance agents before their license expires. Instead, the department now mails a postcard directing agents to the "Renew in 3" website. As a result, 95 percent of agents are now choosing to renew online.

The change in the renewal process will save thousands of dollars annually, but the real savings is through reduction of employee time and paperwork.

The improved efficiency of the license renewal system is just the latest example of modernization in the department's regulation of the insurance industry:

  • On Nov. 3, a new licensee lookup system became available on the department's website: users can now find out insurance agent-agency relationships, as well as the affiliation between bail bond agents and their general bail bond agent.
  • As of Nov. 16, users of the department's website can now find data on insurance companies from a new online search feature that combines market share data, consumer complaints, financial exams, market conduct exams, changes in company status and more.
  • Most insurance companies are required to file their customer policies for approval with the department, and more than 95 percent of these documents are now filed electronically.
  • In 2009, the department switched to a Web-based consumer complaint system, eliminating virtually all paper files for consumer complaints against their insurance companies. Complaints can be filed online at insurance.mo.gov or by phone at 800-726-7390.

"One other major advantage of this technology is that our online data is now searchable in a way paper files never could be," said Huff. "So we are improving efficiencies for taxpayers and our industries, as well as strengthening consumer protection through better use of our data."

About the Missouri Department of Insurance, Financial Institutions & Professional Registration

The Missouri Department of Insurance, Financial Institutions and Professional Registration (DIFP) is responsible for consumer protection through the regulation of financial industries and professionals. The department's seven divisions work to enforce state regulations both efficiently and effectively while encouraging a competitive environment for industries and professions to ensure consumers have access to quality products.

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