Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) Stakeholders’ Project or…how TDI works to help consumers interpret complaint data

Audrey Selden (Texas DOI) moderates the session focusing on the Texas DOI’s insurance stakeholders project.
Audrey Selden (Texas DOI) moderates the session focusing on the Texas DOI’s insurance stakeholders project.

Extensive information is available for consumers on all DOI websites, but is it meaningful?  How do regulators help consumers understand and move on the complaint data available to help them make good decisions? Moderated by Audrey Selden, deputy commissioner, TDI and joined by panelists Elizabeth Fuller, Insurance Regulatory counsel, USAA; Melissa Hield, associate commissioner, TDI; and Stacey Pogue, senior policy analyst, Center for Public Policy Priorities; the group learned how the TDI approached and completed a stakeholders’ project designed to help consumers navigate through the massive amount of complaint information available.

(l to r) Audrey Selden (Texas DOI), Melissa Hield (Texas DOI), Elizabeth Fuller (USAA) and Stacey Pogue (Center for Public Policy Priorities) comprise the panel focusing on the Texas stakeholders’ project.
(l to r) Audrey Selden (Texas DOI), Melissa Hield (Texas DOI), Elizabeth Fuller (USAA) and Stacey Pogue (Center for Public Policy Priorities) comprise the panel focusing on the Texas stakeholders’ project.

 

Project need—impact on consumers
Over the years, TDI has made complaint information available to consumers so that better consumer decisions could be made.  Comparative information on carriers had been made available in a variety of iterations. However, significant data doesn’t mean significant information is actually available to the consumer.  Hence, the TDI Stakeholders’ Project was developed to help consumers interpret the data.

Stacey Pogue (Center for Public Policy Priorities) explains the assistance the Center provided throughout the project.
Stacey Pogue (Center for Public Policy Priorities) explains the assistance the Center provided throughout the project.

States are…well, different
Panelists noted that every state DOI had some level of information available for consumers, but never did two states have a consistent manner to portray complaint data.  Even with the NAIC definitions, state laws and/or regulations required different definition and resolution categories.  DOIs also have different ways to seek resolutions.  Regardless of how information is stacked, most state DOIs agreed that consumer information is difficult to access and difficult to use.

What IS the project?
Recognizing some parameters were necessary or the project would simply collapse under its own weight, the TDI stakeholder group first determined what information was most needed and how it was to be presented to help the consumer audience, including the navigation.

The TDI project group reached out to stakeholder groups to help establish most-needed categories.  Once established, the group worked to test how the most-needed information was presented and navigated.  To date, TDI has had significant positive results.  Specifically:

  • TDI proposed a new rule for the definition of justified and unjustified complaints changing the terminology to confirmed and non-confirmed complaints. (Consumers felt the former terminology diminished their complaint.)
  • Interpretive information was made available for consumers to understand the information.  For example, rankings (average, good, fair, poor), a starring system and bar charts were all helpful to make raw information more meaningful—without requiring significant industry knowledge.
  • TDI met with carriers with very high complaint ratios to discuss with them root causes—frequently the root problem was a communication or internal issue about which the company was not aware.
  • Consumer information sheets were developed as a result of stakeholder meetings for education.
  • TDI developed and loaded search engine capabilities to provide carrier information based on products and other variables—not just complaints.  The information was compiled from the profiles required for all companies licensed in the state of Texas (some 1,900).
  • Consumer Connect was established—a program where TDI makes sure the consumer has contacted the company first with a potential complaint or inquiry rather than go directly to TDI.

Elizabeth Fuller (USAA) shares insight from the company perspective, having come from the regulatory sector.
Elizabeth Fuller (USAA) shares insight from the company perspective, having come from the regulatory sector.

Melissa Hield (Texas DOI) provides an overview of the project and expresses the need to achieve widespread input for its success.
Melissa Hield (Texas DOI) provides an overview of the project and expresses the need to achieve widespread input for its success.

Lessons learned:  next steps
The project has been successful so far and is still evolving.  The immediate next step slated is for 2013 when web-based data will be restacked to be even more useful to consumers by using more and better analytical tools.  In addition, TDI is looking at using technology in terms of game theory for consumers to learn more about insurance.

Still more in the future, the TDI will work as a group to determine what should trigger consumers’ radar—what categories should consumers be looking at—such as the question of how companies actually treat their policyholders.  All next steps have one priority—how to engage consumers with just-in-time information to help them make informed insurance choices.

CONTACT INFO

Elizabeth Fuller
Executive Director, Executive Attorney
USAA
9800 Fredericksburg Road
San Antonio, TX   78288
210.456.3693
elizabeth.fuller@usaa.com

www.usaa.com

Melissa Hield
Associate Commissioner
Texas Department of Insurnace
333 Guadalupe Street
Austin, Texas   78701
512.322.4349
melissa.hield@tdi.state.tx.us

www.tdi.state.tx.us

Stacey Pogue
Senior Policy Analyst
Center for Public Policy Priorities
7020 Easy Wind Road, Suite 200
Austin, TX   78752
512.320.0222, Ext. 117
pogue@cppp.org

www.cppp.org

Audrey Selden
Deputy Commissioner
Texas Department of Insurance
333 Guadalupe Street
Austin, Texas   78701
512.475.1760
audrey.selden@tdi.state.tx.us

www.tdi.state.tx.us

PRESENTATION
Click here to view the helping consumers interpret complaint data presentation

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