Thursday, January 28, 2016

My insurance premium went up. How can I find out the reason for the increase?

Consumers frequently ask us this question. Your agent or insurer should be able to provide you with an explanation other than “there was a general rate increase.” We recommend that you obtain a policy-specific premium breakdown directly from your agent, and that you ask for a rate worksheet comparison between your old premium and your new premium. 

Every policy is priced differently, depending upon the type of coverage you want and what are called underwriting factors.

Underwriting factors for auto insurance may include:

  • Household/family driver records.
  • Driver(s) age(s).
  • Type of vehicle(s).
  • The number of miles you drive per year.
  • Where you live and/or drive your car.
  • Level of coverage being purchased
  • There may be surcharges or discounts unique to your situation.
Underwriting factors for homeowner’s insurance may include:
  • The age of your home.
  • The materials used to build your home.
  • Your home’s value, as based upon its size and features.
  • Your home’s location.
  • Prior claims or losses for the home.
Read more about understanding auto insurance and understanding home insurance.

Questions? You can contact our consumer advocates online or at 1-800-562-6900.

Friday, January 22, 2016

If you find yourself the subject of an insurance fraud investigation, the best thing to do is cooperate

Our consumer advocates respond to thousands of inquiries from Washington consumers each year. Sometimes, we hear from people who are the subject of an insurance company fraud investigation.

Most consumers we talk to are surprised to find out that insurers have the right and responsibility to investigate potentially fraudulent insurance claims. If an insurance company flags a claim as high risk for fraud, consumers are contacted by the company’s special investigations unit (SIU).

Being the subject of a fraud investigation can be unnerving, and many consumers are bewildered and angered by SIU actions of their insurers. Consumers who contact us generally feel the company is infringing on their rights; however, that is not the case. We advise consumers to cooperate with the company’s investigation; most policies state that consumers are required to cooperate with any investigations, or they forfeit their rights outlined in the insurance policy.

Insurance fraud is a crime in Washington state, so if you are being investigated, it’s best to cooperate and provide any documentation you can to support the facts in your claim.

If an insurance company’s SIU finds evidence that a crime occurred, they forward the case to Commissioner Kreidler’s SIU, which conducts an investigation and works with the state Attorney General’s Office and local law enforcement to prosecute people who are suspected of committing insurance fraud.

In 2015, Kreidler’s SIU received nearly 1,700 fraud referrals and obtained 22 felony guilty pleas or convictions. Approximately 10 cents of every dollar consumers pay toward insurance premiums pays for a fraudulent insurance claim.

Read more about Kreidler’s SIU
Questions? You can contact our consumer advocates online or at 1-800-562-6900.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Medicare offers weight loss program

A new year has started and many of us have set weight loss as a goal. You may be thinking of looking into one of the many weight-loss programs available to consumers. However, if you’re on Medicare, did you know that it pays for obesity screening in some cases as a preventive service?

For people who qualify for the obesity screening, Medicare pays for up to 22 face-to-face intensive counseling sessions during a 12-month period with a primary care doctor who accepts Medicare. Qualifying clients have a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher. 

The Columbian newspaper in Vancouver recently featured a medical clinic that provides this service for Medicare recipients.

If you are interested in this service, first you should contact your primary care doctor to see if he or she offers this type of program. You can read more about the coverage on Medicare’s website.