Weekly Wire Services

Montana’s office of Securities and Insurance recovered nearly $700,000 in payments due to insurance consumers last month. July’s exceptional returns bring the office’s year-to-date total to nearly $3 million returned to consumers.

“From life and health insurance to auto and homeowners insurance, our team handles it all. When things go wrong, a simple call, letter, or email to our office can set things right again,” said Monica J. Lindeen, Commissioner of Securities and Insurance. She also mentioned the office is one of the smallest agencies in state government.

Montana’s government watchdog for the insurance industry, the office helps families and small businesses settle disputes with insurance companies. Most often, consumer complaints stem from disputes over contract language or unique protections in Montana law. From January through July, they resolved nearly 1,000 consumer complaints across all lines of insurance, and nine out of 10 cases were settled without litigation.

Over the past year, Lindeen has expanded the office’s ability to address consumer complaints with improved technology, community education, and a special focus on tracking appeals through the full process. As a result, insurance experts at Lindeen’s office are better equipped to address complaints from Montana’s third largest industry.

“We’ve traveled all over the state to make sure Montanans know we’re here to help,” said Lindeen. “When disaster strikes, no one should have to worry about fighting with their insurance company to make things right again. That’s where my office comes in.”

Over the last three years, her office has seen a gradual increase in the amount of money recovered for insurance policyholders in Montana. The Commissioner’s office recovered $3.1 million in 2009 and $3.7 million in 2010. With nearly $3 million recovered in just the first half of 2011, they’re on track to continue the upward trend and return even more money to Montanans.

Montanans with questions or complaints about their insurance should call the office at (800) 332-6148. For more information about insurance products, including consumer guides to common types of insurance like health, home, and auto insurance, visit csi.mt.gov.