( Note: This guest blog is by Liberty Ritchie, a licensed legal intern at our Oklahoma City office )
Insurance companies took over $ 6 billion in premiums from Oklahoma last year. 1 This money should work for you, but all too often it feels like you are being ignored or dragged along by your business instead. The process of filing an insurance claim is a daunting maze of bureaucracy, small print, adjustment of shuffling, and endless "standby" phone calls. The claims system seems designed to be confusing and leaves policyholders frustrated and too often underpaid.
The Oklahoma Insurance Department was created to help consumers navigate this system and hold insurance companies accountable for their business practices. The OID mission is to "protect Oklahoma consumers by monitoring the financial stability and market behavior of Oklahoma insurers." One of the ways it does this is to investigate complaints from Oklahomans about insurance companies, agents and adjusters. In 2020 alone, OID received 2,391
Visit the OID website to submit a complaint. Click "Submit a Complaint" under the "Consumer Help" tab. This will take you to a portal where you can fill out a confidential online form or print a hard copy that you can email to the OID offices at 400 NE 50th St., Oklahoma City, OK. The form can be used for complaints about claims on car, home, commercial, life and health care, service guarantee, title insurance or employee compensation.
The OID complaint form contains all the information the department needs to process your complaint and initiate an investigation. First, fill in your name, address and the best way to contact you once your complaint has been received. Then you provide general information about your insurance company, insurance and loss. Finally, describe why you are submitting a complaint: Did you request that information be ignored only? Was your claim rejected incorrectly or underpaid? Do you feel that your agent made a mistake when you bought the policy? The complaint form has a section for you that describes what happened in detail, why you think OID should investigate and what you want the insurance company to do. Copies of policies, letters, telephone logs or other documents related to your complaint should be sent to the OID Department by fax at (405) 521-6652 or by email. None of the information you provide will be publicly available, so feel free to provide anything you think could help the OID investigate your complaint. The most important thing is that you keep a complete copy of your complaint and all documentation submitted because no one, including the policyholder who submits the complaint, can get a copy from the OID. OID is not obliged to provide a copy of a complaint through an Open Records Request and it is immune to lawsuits seeking copies of complaints. 2
Once your complaint and all its documentation have been submitted, the OID will assign your file to a damage analyst. Your analyst will send a letter to your insurance company to let you know that a complaint has been filed and ask for their side of the story. Under the Oklahoma Act, the insurance company must respond to the claims analyst within 20 days of receiving the letter. The analyst will then evaluate all the information provided to determine if the insurance company has violated state or federal law or violated industry standards. Once the analyst decides if and how the OID can help you, he or she will send you a letter describing how the decision was reached and possible next steps.
OID is not a court – it can not make conclusions about the facts or order an insurance company to pay you. The purpose of the OID is to investigate, make recommendations and, if your complaint stems from a breach of insurance law, proceed with appropriate sanctions against the infringing company. If you have any questions or concerns about your insurance claim, do not hesitate to contact Merlin Law Group.
1 Oklahoma Insurance Department, 2020 Annual Report, (2021), https: // www .oid.ok.gov / wp-content / uploads / 2021/01/2020-Annual-Report- Full-Version.pdf.
2 Section 306 of the Insurance Code states that files from the Consumer Aid / Claims Department, including complaints and requests for assistance from insured persons, and insurance agency and business registers, shall not be public registers and shall not be disclosed except in connection with the Commissioner's disciplinary proceedings. .