Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Important tips for insurance consumers

Editor's note: During National Consumer Protection Week, OIC is offering tips to help protect insurance consumers in Washington.

Today, we are sharing tips with Washington insurance consumers based on questions and complaints we’ve received over the years. These tips are general and are intended to help you avoid common insurance pitfalls.

  • If you are having a problem with your insurance company or agent that you can’t get resolved, we recommend that you call us about it as soon as you are having the problem. We do get calls from people who wait years (yes, years) before they call us. By that time, it’s very hard to untangle the issues. We will try, but it’s significantly more difficult. Contact us at 1-800-562-6900 or on our website. The sooner you contact us, the sooner we can determine how we might be able to help.
  • Do an annual review of your policies and what possessions you are covering. A lot can happen in 12 months—did you remodel your home? Buy a car? Sell a car? Buy a boat? Have a birthday? Any of these things could affect your insurance premium. For homeowner or renter insurance policies, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) has a home inventory checklist available as a PDF or as an app.
  • Many people have their auto and home policies with the same insurer. However, many do not. If you change address or have any other issue that might involve both policies, be sure to contact both insurers to discuss your situation and make any needed changes to policies.

It’s important to be an informed consumer, and we are here to help. OIC’s website has a wealth of information about auto, home, health and life insurance for Washington consumers at www.insurance.wa.gov. Our consumer site is tablet- and mobile-friendly.