If you have a complaint against your insurance carrier, which could include such claims as: having your claim wrongfully denied; having your insurance policy wrongfully canceled; or for some other type of violation whether it is for your health insurance, accident insurance, or homeowners, life insurance or annuity policies, you may be able to obtain assistance without the need to hire a lawyer. In 2012, the Connecticut Insurance Department assisted consumers with their insurance policy complaints and recovered $8.7 million on behalf of policyholders and state taxpayers.
The Connecticut Insurance Department's mission statement is to protect consumers through regulation of the industry, outreach, education and advocacy. The department recovers an average of $4 million a year on behalf of consumers and regulates the industry by ensuring insurance carriers adhere to state laws and regulations and are financially solvent to pay claims.
The state's consumer affairs unit received more than 6,100 complaints and inquiries in 2012, including over 2,000 complaints and inquiries from residents with questions about health and accident insurance. More than 1,000 of these complaints were categorized as "unfair claims practices" from failing to make prompt payments to claims of false advertising. Gerald O'Sullivan, the unit's program manager, stated "many people don't realize that we’re here to offer free assistance." Consumers, with complaints or inquiries can contact the unit by phone, online or through the mail.
Kathy Walsh, the unit's supervisor for health insurance issues stated that the most common violation is not paying claims on a timely basis. State law requires health insurers to pay claims filed electronically within 20 days or begin paying interest. That time period is extended to 60 days for claims filed on paper. Of the $8.7 million recovered by the state, the breakdown of the funds is as follows: $2.1 million for health and accident insurance claims; $790,000 for homeowners and farmers claims; $409,000 for fire and commercial policies; $407,000 for automobile policies; $241,000 for life and annuity insurance policies; $76,000 for general liability insurance; and $62,000 for miscellaneous claims.
Commissioner Thomas B Leonardi stated that the department "is here to help consumers fight wrongful claim denials, unjustified costs or policy cancellations and other issues that affect everyone's bottom line. Household budgets are under enormous stress and every dollar matters. Carriers must adhere to state insurance law and when they don't the Department can and does step in to help, recovering money that rightfully belongs to the policyholder while holding insurance companies accountable."
Although it is always a good idea to first consult with an experienced insurance law attorney to get your questions answered. You should also inquire from your lawyer about engaging the assistance of the State Insurance Department. If you have been advised to deal directly with the State Insurance Department you can file complaints and inquiries by visiting their website at www.ct.gov/cid/.
Richard P. Hastings is a Connecticut personal injury lawyer at Hastings, Cohan & Walsh, LLP, with offices throughout the state. He is a member of the CT DMV Commissioner's Advisory Committee on Teen Safe Driving. He has been named a New England Super Lawyer and is the author of the books: "The Crash Course on Child Injury Claims"; "The Crash Course on Personal Injury Claims in Connecticut" and "The Crash Course on Motorcycle Accidents." He has also co-authored the best selling book "Wolf in Sheep's Clothing- What Your Insurance Company Doesn't Want You to Know and Won't Tell You Until It's Too Late!" He can be reached at 1(888)CTLAW-00 or by visitingwww.hcwlaw.com.