Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Department of Insurance recovers $63.8M for consumers in 2010

California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones said Monday the California Department of Insurance recovered $63.8 million last year through consumer complaint investigations and market conduct examinations of Golden State insurance companies.

In 2009, the department recovered $89.1 million -- 28.4 percent more than 2010’s tally. The department said about 20 percent of the 2009 total came from resolving cases where investigations started in 2007 or 2008 involving huge wildfires.

“I’m proud to announce that our hard work has led to us recovering more than $63 million for consumers for calendar year 2010,” Jones said.

The bulk of the money recovered, more than $52.3 million, came from consumer complaint investigations completed last year. Another $10.7 million came from audits by the DOI’s Market Conduct Division. Finally, $565,000 came from market conduct penalties, which are returned to the state’s general fund.

The CDI’s Consumer Services and Market Conduct Branch has two divisions – one focused on helping consumers directly and the other on auditing insurance companies’ actions. The consumer services unit operates the Consumer Communications Bureau, which handles the (800) 927-HELP consumer hotline; the Claims Services and Rating and Underwriting Services bureaus investigate and resolve complaints filed with the Department by consumers and others, officials noted.

The consumer hotline annually receives 200,000 calls.

The Market Conduct Division examines insurance company claims, underwriting, rating and marketing practices to ensure they are complying with the law and regulations, the department said.

Read more: Department of Insurance recovers $63.8M for consumers in 2010, down from 2009 | Sacramento Business Journal