Thursday, March 21, 2013

Job opening: Deputy insurance commissioner for legal affairs

Due to a retirement, we're recruiting for one of the top jobs at the Office of the Insurance Commissioner: the deputy commissioner for legal affairs.

The person will be responsible for forming the agency's legal positions related to enforcing compliance with the state insurance code and related federal laws, including matters related to insurers, agents, brokers and unauthorized insurance transactions.

He or she will manage a division of 20 employees and serve as general counsel for the insurance commissioner. The division includes staff attorneys and investigators who support the agency's consumer protection mission.

For more, including detailed responsibilities, requirements, salary and application process, please see the full job listing.

Insurance questions: "What's an `examination under oath,' and do I have to take it?"

Q: "My insurer asked me to attend an `examination under oath.' Can they make me do this?"

A: The company has the right to request that you be examined under oath, but it's your decision whether to actually attend and participate. So you can refuse. But keep reading.

Here's the big caveat: As the insured person, you have a responsibility to cooperate with your insurer during an investigation and to provide support for your claim. If you refuse to attend an examination under oath -- these are often known by the shorthand "EUO" in insurance documents -- your insurer has the right to deny your claim and close their case based on what they will call non-cooperation.

The upshot: We recommend that you attend an examination under oath and that you cooperate with your insurer in support of your claim.

After your insurer has the information it's requested and has completed the exam, then it's their responsibility to provide you with a timely coverage decision. If they deny your claim, they need to clearly explain to you why they made that decision.

If you live in Washington state and have insurance questions or want to file a insurance complaint, you can reach us by e-mail or call us at 1-800-562-6900. You can also file a complaint 24/7 through our new online complaint form.

If you live in a different state, here's how to reach your state's insurance regulator.

"An accident drove up my insurance rates, but I wasn't at fault. What's up?"

Some auto insurers base their rates only on at-fault accidents, but others take into consideration all claim activity, whether you were the one at fault or not.

Insurers operate on the statistical principle  that people with current claim activity represent a higher future potential risk than those who have no claims.

Here's the good news: insurers compete against each other, and in Washington we have a particularly vibrant auto insurance market. And rates can vary considerably from company to company, even among similar policies. So -- as we say often -- it really can pay to shop around for alternatives.