Thursday, May 10, 2012

Insurance company turned down your claim? We may be able to help.

Often when consumers call us with insurance problems, we suggest that they file a complaint with our office. And it's not uncommon for people to say something like “Why should I bother? I already called the insurance company, and they gave me their answer.”

First off, don't give up. Filing a complaint with our office can still help.

Here's why: When we receive complaints, we send the paperwork to our contact people at each insurance company. These are usually higher up in the insurance company than the front-line staff who answer customer service questions. Because of their position in the company, the insurance workers we deal with often have more discretion to consider all the factors and make a decision on your claim.

Also, state law says that when an insurance company receives a complaint from our office, the company needs to investigate the issue and respond to us in a timely manner. Sometimes, just the process of having another person from the insurance company take a closer look can lead to a resolution.

Finally, these complaints give our office a window into what’s going on within an insurance company, so the time that you spend filing the complaint can help us see a bigger picture. In the long run, that can help a lot of consumers in addition to you. In some cases, complaints by just a few individuals have led to investigations that resulted in refunds to hundreds of people. (Here's an example of that.)

So if you need help -- and live in Washington -- give us a call at 1-800-562-6900 or send an e-mail to (If you live elsewhere, here's how to find your area's insurance regulator.) Our services are free and we won't try to sell you anything. We're the government agency that regulates the insurance industry in Washington state.