June 21, 2010

Missouri Dept of Insurance releases latest consumer complaint numbers

Consumers can search 11,000 complaints online

Jefferson City, Mo. - Consumers shopping for insurance can now take advantage of the latest complaint data released by the Missouri Department of Insurance. The annual complaint index report is posted and searchable at the department's website, insurance.mo.gov under the About Insurers / Agents section. Users can search more than 11,000 complaints and 1,200 insurance companies doing business in Missouri since 2007.

Each company listed in the department's online database is assigned a complaint index number.  The complaint index helps to explain whether a company has a high, average or low volume of complaints for a company its size. A complaint index of 100 is average. An index of less than 100 means a company receives fewer complaints than average; an index of above 100 means a company receives more complains than average.

Using the online search feature, consumers can find a complaint index rating for a particular company, or find rankings of companies with the highest or lowest complaint ratings, sorted by line of insurance, such as auto, home, life or health.

"I encourage consumers shopping for insurance to find out as much as they can about the companies they're considering," said Insurance Director John M. Huff. "The complaint index gives consumers a look at how an insurance company treats its policyholders, mainly when it comes to handling claims."

The complaint index numbers are based on the roughly 4,000 complaints consumers file with the department every year. The department's Consumer Affairs Division mediates complaints and in 2009 returned a record $14 million to consumers who had been unfairly denied claims or overcharged on premiums.

In addition to searching for consumer complaints, Huff says consumers should verify whether a particular agent or insurance company is licensed to do business in Missouri as required by state law. That information is also available at the department's website.

Consumers can also verify licensing, get complaint index ratings, file complaints or ask other questions by calling the Insurance Consumer Hotline at 800-726-7390.