August 3, 2020
OLYMPIA, Wash. – As of Aug. 1, all insurers in Washington state that take action against a policyholder must include information in the notices about the right to appeal and how to contact the insurance commissioner’s Consumer Protection division if they need assistance.
“Insurance companies interact with us daily and understand our role,” said Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler. “And for the most part, they do right by their policyholders. But we’re well aware that many people have never heard of our services. We hope this new requirement will help educate people about our role in consumer protection and the free services we provide.”
The new rule applies to all insurers doing business in Washington state. Any insurer that takes an adverse action against a policyholder must include the following language in a written notice:
"If you have questions or concerns about the actions of your insurance company or agent, or would like information on your rights to file an appeal, contact the Washington state Office of the Insurance Commissioner's consumer protection hotline at 1-800-562-6900 or visit www.insurance.wa.gov.
The insurance commissioner protects and educates insurance consumers, advances the public interest, and provides fair and efficient regulation of the insurance industry."
An adverse action includes:
- Denying a claim.
- Paying a claim for the less than the amount the policyholder submitted.
- Rescission, cancellation, termination or nonrenewal of a policy, unless initiated by the policyholder.
The requirement to include the above language does not apply when a policy is scheduled to end or if a policyholder is cancelled for not paying their premium.
Last year, the insurance industry collected $47.2 billion in premiums in Washington. Kreidler’s office received more than 6,000 consumer complaints and recovered nearly $14 million for consumers from issues with billings, refunds and claim-handling.