OAI: Texas Auto Insurance Complaints Highlighted by Record-Low Numbers

August 10, 2012 (PRLEAP.COM) Business News
A recent report from a Texas insurance group showed regulators there received a record-low number of auto insurer complaints last year, highlighting the insurer-related grievances submitted by consumers in a state that has seen shrinking complaint figures for almost a decade, according to Online Auto Insurance.

The report, compiled by the Insurance Council of Texas (ICT) and released Monday, showed that 2011's total of consumer complaints filed with the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) was the lowest number since such record-keeping at TDI began in 1994.

Consumers who get Texas car insurance can turn to the state's regulators if they have complaints or need to settle disputes with their insurer.

"We'd like to hear from consumers when they have any kind of problem with their insurance companies for two reasons," said TDI spokesman Jerry Hagins, who added that regulators recovered about $25 million total last year that was returned to consumers. "First, we can often help them: we look over their policy with them, we can contact the company and many times we can help resolve the problem. The second reason is that it gives us a sense of problem areas and trends."

The annual complaint figures have steadily dropped since 2002, when the number of complaints hit a record-high of 5,626. That year was an about-face for the TDI, which had seen rising complaint numbers of since 1997.

Last year's complaint statistics were especially significant because more policies were in place in the Lone Star State; in 1994 there were 9.6 million auto policies in effect compared with 12.3 million auto policies in 2011.

The TDI provides a complaint index that uses a ratio comparing the number of policies an insurer has in force to the number of justified complaints related to that insurer that the TDI receives. Consumers can use those indexes to see if they are making the right choice about getting a policy with an insurer.

The index scale on which insurers are scored has a 1.00 average, with scores higher than 1.00 meaning the insurer had more complaints than average.

According to an analysis of the 2011 complaint index by OnlineAutoInsurance.com, 249 complaints were filed against Old American County Mutual Fire, the highest total number of complaints for a single major Texas insurer that year. The company also showed a relatively high index score of 3.83.

State Farm, which had the highest Texas policy count with 3.1 million last year, had a relatively low complaint index at 0.31. Other insurers scored lower but did not have nearly as many policies in place.

Indexes for other large insurers came out relatively positive as well. Farmers Texas County Mutual came in with an index of 0.57, Progressive County Mutual had an index of 0.71 and GEICO clocked in with 0.69-all better than average.

For more on this and related issues, head to http://www.onlineautoinsurance.com/texas/ for access to an easy-to-use quote-comparison generator and informative resource pages.