January 25, 2022
Nearly $25 million returned to Missouri consumers with the help of the Missouri Department of Commerce and Insurance
Jefferson City, MO - Missouri consumers received nearly 25 million additional dollars from their insurance companies in 2021, thanks to the services provided by the department’s Consumer Affairs Division and Market Regulation Division.
“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 and Insurance. “We are a free resource to help people resolve any disputes they have with their insurance company.”
The revenues were returned as a result of the Consumer Affairs Division’s mediation work on complaints filed by consumers, as well as the efforts of the Market Regulation Division in ensuring insurance company compliance with Missouri insurance laws.
During 2021, the Consumer Affairs Division handled 2,581 formal complaints and assisted nearly 20,000 consumers either through phone calls, written inquiries, or in person at outreach events. Nearly $15M was returned to consumers through the Division. The largest driver of complaints continues to be accident and health followed by 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,” said Consumer Affairs Division Director Carrie Couch. “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.
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.
“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,” says Director Lindley-Myers. “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 comprehensive 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.
The Consumer Affairs Division and the Market Regulation Division are essential components of the Department of Commerce & Insurance. DCI is charged with protecting Missouri consumers through oversight of the insurance industry, banks, credit unions, utilities and various professional licensees operating in the state. For more information on DCI, please visit our website at dci.mo.gov.