The Colorado Division of Insurance recovered about $38.4 million for Colorado consumers during the last fiscal year.
In a Tuesday news release the agency, which is housed under the Department of Regulatory Agencies, announced $38,475,615 was reclaimed in the 2017-18 fiscal year.
DOI’s investigation of consumers’ complaints against insurance companies netted about $11.4 million of the funds recovered, which was highlighted in its annual Complaints Against Insurers report, according to the release.
That amount was a 34 percent increase over the approximately $8.5 million recovered in the 2016-17 fiscal year.
“Being a resource for Colorado consumers is a key part of our mission,” Interim Insurance Commissioner Michael Conway said in the release. “Answering people’s questions, investigating their complaints, helping people get their claims paid and restoring coverage when it was improperly cancelled — these are areas where we can really impact lives.”
Consumers will receive their portion of funds recovered in additional claim payments, overturned denials and refunds to policyholders, the release said.
Health insurance companies had the largest amount recovered, at $3,672,165, then auto insurance at $2,289,259. Other complaints with recovered funds were against life insurance companies at $1,823,882 and homeowners insurance at $1,437,613.
The agency said offering the reason why a claim was denied or how insurance coverage works is as important for consumers as recovering money.
“In addition to monetary recoveries, investigations can also result in the reinstatement of coverage after improper cancellations or non-renewals,” the release said. “There is no dollar value for such reinstatements, but they are another example of how the DOI helps Colorado consumers.”
The DOI opened about 3,100 complaints during the 2017-18 fiscal year, the release said.
“The number of complaints closed by the team — meaning that the complaint was investigated to its conclusion — was 3,282,” it said.
Similar to previous years, auto, health and homeowners insurance made up the majority of complaints.
“The Consumer Services team is committed to helping the people of Colorado,” Bobbie Baca, director of consumer services for property & casualty insurance for the DOI, said in the release. “As the report shows, we investigate complaints and return money to people, but we also answer questions about insurance terminology and processes, and even simple inquiries like, ‘Can my insurance company do that?'”
The agency also returned more than $4.3 million to Colorado through the Life Insurance Policy Locator, which is a tool developed by the National Association of Insurance that recognizes lost policies.
Through its Market Regulation section, DOI also recovered $22,682,010 for Colorado consumers.
That section examines insurance companies licensed or registered in the state to ensure compliance with laws, rules and regulations, the release said.
“When people think about insurance, they think about premiums,” Conway said in the release. “But the Division’s work goes beyond just reviewing premiums. We’re working to make sure that Coloradans are treated fairly by the industry and that they get what they have paid for in their insurance. I am extremely proud of the work our team did to recover $38.4 million for Coloradans last year.”
Anyone with questions can contact the consumer services section of DOI by phone at 303-894-7490 or 800-930-3745; via email at DORA_Insurance@state.co.us; or visit DOI’s website at colorado.gov/pacific/dora/division-insurance.