Georgia Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens has issued a directive to insurance companies after Irma.
He wants them to cut their customers some slack. Actually, Hudgens says he wants them “to exercise leniency in dealing with Georgia residents that may experience difficulty paying their premiums due to Hurricane Irma.”
“I expect insurance companies to be compassionate and understanding when so many of their policyholders’ lives have been severely disrupted,” Hudgens said. “This includes premium payments and nonrenewal notifications.”
Hudgens’ office also indicated that insurers that plan to process what it terms “lawful” cancellation of nonrenewal notices during the time in which Georgia was in a State of Emergency are “encouraged to ensure that policyholders impacted by legal adverse underwriting decisions have sufficient time to address their insurance needs.”
At the same time, the Consumer Federation of America is calling on insurance commissioners in states like Georgia to be a little tougher on insurance companies. The consumer group is asking not only insurance commissioners but FEMA to initiate a public accountability program. Robert Hunter told us these programs can ‘improve insurance company claims handling services.”
“As families rebuild, they deserve a public commitment from the nation’s insurance companies to hold up their end of the insurance bargain and pay claims quickly and fairly,” says Hunter. “Insurance Commissioners and FEMA must play a central role in holding these companies to account by keeping a public spotlight on their customer service over the next several months.”
Hunter says during Hurricane Sandy, data was collected about how claims were being paid. Consumer Federation of America is asking states like Georgia to do the same now.
Hunter says data collected, at least once a week, should include:
• number of claims filed;
• number of claims closed without payment;
• number of claims closed with payment;
• number of claims denied;
• number of claims in suit;
• total dollar amount of disaster claims paid;
• total number of complaints filed.
Hunters says Insurance Commissioners and FEMA should prominently post the data on their websites and update it weekly, so consumers, policymakers, and the media can compare companies and see how their company is doing.
Meanwhile, Georgia Insurance Commissioner Hudgens says Georgians who need help with late payment issues, or who have questions or problems regarding insurance, can call the Consumer Services Division at 1-800-656-2298. Phones are answered from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. You can also visit the website.