NC, / / Wired PR News – Press Release //The North Carolina Department of Insurance (DOI) announced last month that several hundred thousand dollars will be returned to some auto insurance policyholders after it was discovered that a carrier operating in the state had overcharged some premiums. How the authorities heard about and resolved the issue emphasizes the critical role played by state regulators.
According to the DOI, 1,803 North Carolina car insurance policyholders will receive a total of $680,718 in refunds and credits as a result of an investigation into the coverage provider’s premium miscalculations, which affected some policies in effect between July 2005 and July 2008. The investigation was undertaken after the department received complaints from consumers, and it was revealed that the company had been wrongly factoring rental car costs into property damage claims totals — a practice that is prohibited by state regulators.
The insurer began processing credits and refunds soon after being made aware of the error, according to the DOI, which characterized the incident as a mistake.
The case underscores the vital function that state insurance departments play as overseers of the industry and protectors of consumers. Without the departments’ consumer-protection divisions, policyholders would be on their own to understand the complicated guidelines that govern insurers’ activities and to settle discrepancies that they may have with their coverage providers.
And North Carolina consumers often do turn to their state regulators to help resolve these types of issues. Property and liability companies in 2009 collected nearly $2.7 billion in premiums in the state, and car coverage consumers filed 2,077 complaints with the department, according to the state’s most recent consumer-complaint report.
Consumers in any state can use these annual complaint reports to help evaluate which insurers to go with. By looking at the ratios, prospective policyholders may get a better understanding of the level of customer satisfaction that they can expect from a carrier. Consumers, however, should focus on the ratio rather than the number of complaints, since the ratios weigh the total number of complaints against the number of premium dollars collected. Company A could have hundreds of more complaints than Company B, for example, but the complaint ratio may actually be nearly identical if Company A also had collected, say, 30 times more premiums than Company B.
To learn more about NC car insurance issues, consumers can go to http://www.onlineautoinsurance.com/north-carolina/ where visitors will also be able to quickly generate side-by-side rate estimates from a variety of carriers.