11/18/2011 (press release: [email protected]) // Montgomery, Alabama, USA // Gregor McGavin
Alabama Insurance Commissioner Jim Ridling’s recent order instructing all property and casualty insurers statewide to turn over data on damage claims filed by policyholders in the wake of windstorms earlier this year highlights the broad scope of services state regulators perform for consumers.
In addition to regulating the business and financial practices of companies providing Alabama auto insurance, homeowner policies and other coverage, regulators such as Ridling look out for residents by following up on insurers’ handling of claims and other issues.
That kind of effort is important in the aftermath of natural disasters such as the tornadoes and other high winds that swept across much of the Yellowhammer State in April and May. According to local news outlets, more than 120 people died and vehicles, residences and businesses were leveled.
Ridling sent a notice last month to all companies that sell policies in the state, ordering them to provide his department with the number of claims filed by policyholders, the number—and dollar amount—paid out and how many have not yet been settled.
Officials with the insurance department say the idea is to see how well insurers are doing with the claims process and to make sure that Alabamians who suffered losses are being treated right.
Earlier this year, Ridling and state Gov. Robert Bentley announced that insured losses from an April 27 tornado outbreak are expected to exceed those caused by Hurricane Ivan in 2004.
The leaders cited a report from a catastrophe modeling company that predicted losses of anywhere from $1.9 billion to $2.9 billion, compared with the $2 billion in insured damages that resulted from Ivan.
After a tornado or other calamity, it can be even tougher than usual for the average consumer to deal with a large insurer. That’s why regulators are there in every state to help residents settle claims that might otherwise never be paid.
Each state has its own laws protecting residents from unfair treatment. Each also has officials that can help negotiate claim disputes, ensure that companies are engaged in proper business practices and penalize those who violate state laws.
To learn more about this and other car insurance issues, readers can go to http://www.onlineautoinsurance.com/alabama/ where they will find informative resource pages and a helpful rate-comparison generator that can help consumers quickly evaluate their coverage options.