Focus and Health Care

Consumers file over 3,100 complaints against insurers

July 12, 2013
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Consumers file over 3,100 complaints against insurers
Consumer complaints against insurers, while still topping the 3,000 mark, were at their lowest level in 2012 for the last six years. Courtesy

Consumers across the state filed 3,184 complaints last year against insurance companies that do business in Michigan, according to a report released by the Department of Insurance and Financial Services late last month.

The number of complaints made last year was actually the fewest since 2007.

Fifty-one percent of those complaints were about how insurers handled or mishandled claims. Another 23 percent were about customer service or the perceived lack of it, while 20 percent were about underwriting issues.

Accident and health insurance firms drew the most gripes last year; 47 percent were directed against those providers. Twenty-three percent were about auto policies. Fifteen percent were over homeowners insurance.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Michigan drew the most complaints with 607; 56 percent of those were about how the health insurer handled claims, and 33 percent expressed dissatisfaction with the its customer service.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield is likely to draw the most complaints. It is the state’s largest insurance company and had nearly 12 percent of the market last year. The firm also drew the most consumer complaints in 2011, when 740 were reported to DIFS.

Companies that offer HMO plans were second in the complaint department with 266 filed last year.

DIFS noted not every complaint it receives results in a determination that an insurer has acted improperly.

Over 4,000 insurance complaints were filed with DIFS in 2008 and 2009. More than 3,600 were made in 2007 and 2010. DIFS said 3,441 were received in 2011. The latest report has the fewest in the past six years.

DIFS creates complaint ratios of insurance companies that consumers can use as a guideline in choosing an insurer.

The ratios are based on comparing the number of gripes received for a firm against the dollar amount of premiums a company writes every year.

The office also recommended that consumers use more than a complaint ratio to select or reject a company.

Cost of premiums, contract benefits, the financial stability of an insurer and the levels of service provided should also be part of the decision.

The consumer guides are available at

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