COLUMBUS — During National Consumer Protection Week, March 2-8, Lieutenant Governor and Department of Insurance Director Mary Taylor is reminding Ohioans about the importance of protecting themselves by becoming knowledgeable about insurance and learning how to detect fraudulent sales pitches and behavior.
“The best defense against scams is to become informed,” Taylor said. “We have a number of consumer resources available that I urge Ohioans to take advantage of and review before making an insurance purchase.”
One of the largest consumer protection agencies in Ohio, the Department has saved or recovered $48 million for consumers over the last two years. The Department also monitors the financial solvency of insurance companies to ensure consumer claims are paid, reviews the rates for insurance products, and handles consumers complaints made against insurance companies and agents. In addition, the agency investigates allegations of professional misconduct and consumer insurance fraud.
Included in the Department’s collection of insurance consumer guides located at www.insurance.ohio.gov is the Be Proactive: Protect Yourself From Fraud publication. It provides information and tips to help people avoid financial exploitation, annuity sales fraud, living trusts fraud, life insurance scams, investments fraud, reverse mortgage scams, Medicare sales fraud, healthcare fraud, online security threats and telemarketing fraud.
Taylor has five important insurance tips to help Ohioans protect themselves:
Become Informed: Understanding insurance can make you a more confident consumer and help you recognize if someone doesn’t have your best interest in mind.
- Utilize the Department’s free auto, homeowners, health, life, long-term care insurance, Medicare and Be Proactive: Protect Yourself From Fraud consumer guides, toolkits, and tip sheets at www.insurance.ohio.gov.
- Follow the Department on Facebook and its Ohio Senior Health Insurance Information Program (OSHIIP) to stay connected on the latest insurance information.
Utilize Trusted Resources: Build a network of trusted advisors that you can lean on if you have important insurance questions and decisions to make.
- Call the Department’s consumer hotline at 1-800-686-1526 for free and unbiased help. Also visit the agency’s website to determine if the person selling you insurance is licensed.
- Tap into your agent’s knowledge base and talk with close family members and friends.
File a Complaint: If you disagree with your insurer, maybe over a claim matter, or have been wronged by your agent, contact the Department.
Identify Fraud, Report It: Insurance fraud is one of the biggest white collar crimes in the United States costing households approximately $1,000 annually in increased premiums. Consumer should watch for scams related to the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
- Fake insurance companies and dishonest people often try to sell coverage that is usually difficult to secure and sell policies that are significantly cheaper. If it seems too good to be true, it usually is.
- Never provide your checking account number to have your premiums automatically deducted unless you are dealing with a reputable company.
- Be suspicious if you are being pressured into giving your credit card number or using the automatic withdrawal payment method.
- If you’re an insurance consumer and feel you’ve been scammed, call the Department’s fraud hotline at 1-800-686-1527.
- If you’re an insurance or health care professional who knows of someone committing professional misconduct, call 1-800-686-1527.
- If you’re aware someone has committed insurance fraud, such as falsifying or padding a claim, call 1-800-686-1527.
Shop Around: No two insurance products are priced the same. It pays to comparison shop for the coverage that best fits your lifestyle and budget.
- Find an agent in your community with the Department’s agent locator tool at www.insurance.ohio.gov.
- Ensure you have adequate insurance protection, inquire about discounts and don’t be rushed into making a purchase.
Important consumer protection information about credit, debt, identity theft, fraud, technology and more is available on the Office of the Ohio Attorney General website at www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/ncpw.