COLUMBUS — During National Consumer Protection Week, March 3-9, Lieutenant Governor and Department of Insurance Director Mary Taylor is stressing that Ohioans can best protect themselves by becoming familiar with the basics of insurance and utilizing resources provided by the Department.
“We take our duty of protecting Ohio insurance consumers very seriously,” Taylor said. “The Department can help consumers better understand insurance allowing them to make the best decision for them and their family.”
One of the largest consumer protection agencies in Ohio, the Department saved or recovered a record $24.4 million for consumers in 2012 while assisting more than 190,000 people mainly through its toll-free hotlines, community outreach and counseling. The Department also monitors the financial solvency of insurers, reviews rates, and handles complaints made against insurers and agents.
Taylor shared five insurance tips to help Ohioans protect themselves:
Become Informed: Understanding insurance can make you a more confident consumer and help recognize if someone doesn’t have your best interest in mind.
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 the second biggest white collar crime in the United States costing households nearly $1,000 annually in increased premiums.
- If you’re an insurance consumer and feel you’ve been scammed, call the Department’s fraud hotline at 1-800-686-1578.
- If you’re an insurance or health care professional who knows of someone committing professional misconduct, call 800-686-1578.
- If you’re aware someone has committed insurance fraud, such as falsifying or padding a claim, call 1-800-686-1578.
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 locater tool at www.insurance.ohio.gov.
- Ensure you have adequate insurance protection, inquire about discounts and don’t be rushed into making a purchase.
The Department, in partnership with the Office of the Ohio Attorney General, will participate in statewide consumer protection outreach events in March. The purpose is to help Ohioans understand insurance, protect their privacy, manage money and debt, avoid identify theft and steer clear of scams. A list of events is available at www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov/NCPW.