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Your State's Department of Insurance

The consumer's advocate for all things insurance

What happens if you have a complaint regarding your life insurance carrier, plan, or broker or just want additional support beyond what is offered by your carrier?  That's where the Department of Life Insurance comes into play.  Let's take a look at how this department functions and what questions you can ask there.

First, it's important to understand that the Department of Insurance and their authority is administered State by State.  Each State will have it's own Department of Insurance and different rules/options apply.  You can quickly find your department by typing in to Google, "Department of Insurance" followed by your State.  The other point to notice is that all insurance types are grouped together under one heading.  Each state treats how  these are broken out a little differently but Health and Life can generally be found under a separate license (for the broker) and heading from what is traditionally termed "P&C" or Property and Casualty.  The best way to think of it is that one pertains to insurance that applies to people (health, life, long term care, etc), while the other applies to insurance of property or things (and the liability that may result from them) such as car, home, etc.  Let's take a look at what the Department of Insurance governs as it pertains to life insurance.

The life insurance departments are primarily geared around three key functions.  All are loosely tied to protecting the consumer but in different ways.  The first deals with the insurance carriers and their business in the State.  In effect, the Department of Insurance acts as the authority through which an insurance carrier operates and markets insurance in the State.  Rate increase, practices, marketing etc generally flow under the auspices of the Department of Insurance for that given State.  Depending on the depth of your State's Department, you may find report cards on how the carriers rate in comparison to each other across different metrics such as complaints, satisfaction, network breadth, etc.  This can be a handy tool but as a life insurance broker, we feel there's nothing better than dealing with the carriers day in and day out to know who is worth considering.  There are carriers we just won't deal with even though they are in good standing with the DOI due to their history of being difficult to deal with.  Experience as a life insurance broker with an unbiased approach can be your greatest asset.

This brings us to our second function.  The Department of Insurance also acts as the authority agent for licensing insurance agents and brokers.  They dictate the requirements for obtaining licenses, maintaining licenses (including ethics and continuing education requirements), and disputes or complaints.  You can look up the status of a particular life insurance agent from their website as well as lodge a complaint.  Since most people purchase life insurance through agents, this is an important check to make sure consumers are getting the best representation.  The carrier provide the insurance product but ultimately, it's the agent that helps guide them through the process of finding the right plan and applying for coverage...both of which are multi-faceted and complex operations.

The final piece is tied into the first two in that the core role of the Department of Insurance is to be the consumer's advocate.  This is the place to find information both general and detailed about the market, file complaints or request information regarding carriers and agents, and learn tips and insight into the very complex world of insurance of all kinds.  There may be specific information on how insurance carriers will treat swine flu vaccinations or information pertaining to new flood insurance requirements.  Each State's legislature is constantly passing new laws and bills that govern the way insurance functions in that particular State.  The Department of Insurance is the main point of dissemination for how these bills will affect the residents of that State as it pertains to insurance.  There can be general news alerts as to fraud or scams affecting the insurance market.    There may even be specific information for Seniors regarding Medigap insurance (although a Federal program) or more complex life insurance options such as annuities and whole life. 

The Department of Insurance is a valuable resource to help protect consumers and insure the proper functioning of the insurance market in each State.

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DISCLAIMER   -   Information provided on this page is intended as a general overview.  Your situation regarding life insurance may be different and we strongly          
 recommend speaking with a license life insurance agent.  This information is solely the opinion of etermlifeinsurancequote.com and may not be suitable for you.