NAIC Adopts Consumer Complaints White Paper

June 28, 2000

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners has adopted a white paper regarding the handling of consumer complaints by insurance departments. The action came during a plenary conference call yesterday.

The white paper is the result of a charge by the Market Conduct and Consumer Affairs Committee to the Consumer Complaints White Paper Working Group to prepare a paper regarding the handling of consumer complaints by insurance departments, including recommendations for features of an effective complaint-handling process. The white paper provides an accumulation of ideas, guidelines and best practices that can be used by states to evaluate or enhance their current procedures.

“One of the most important roles of state insurance departments is to serve and protect consumers by handling their complaints,” said NAIC President and Kentucky Insurance Commissioner George Nichols III. “Complaint-handling methods deserve attention because the consumer services division of an insurance department serves as the front line of consumer contact,” said Steve Larsen, Maryland Insurance Commissioner and Chair of the Consumer Complaints White Paper Working Group.

“The consumer services divisions are often the initial and sometimes the only contact that a consumer has with a department of insurance, so this paper will be a helpful resource guide in those divisions.”

The white paper provides an overview of the concepts and procedures currently in place for resolution of consumer complaints and is intended to promote dialogue within insurance departments. The paper focuses on the “best practices” for handling complaints and addresses issues such as confidentiality, electronic submission of complaints, complaint-trend analysis and education and training for consumer representatives.

The NAIC Education Division has scheduled a Consumer Assistance Training Program based on the best practices identified in the paper. The CAT is tentatively

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