Commissioner Downing Offers Tips to Avoid Consumer Fraud

csimt 2021, Fraud, Insurance

In recognition of National Consumer Protection Week, Commissioner of Securities and Insurance Troy Downing reminds Montanans to remain diligent regarding bad actors and con artists. Montanan’s, particularly senior citizens, are advised to alert his agency if they believe they are victims of insurance and investment fraud. It is also important to contact the Commissioner’s office if individuals have been contacted by suspect individuals soliciting unusual investments or insurance policies.

“Con artists are very skilled at convincing their victims to hand over their money quickly. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If you are ever in doubt, contact our office. Never hand over your money to someone you haven’t fully vetted.” Commissioner Downing said.

To avoid becoming a victim, the Commissioner’s office shares certain red flags for consumers to watch for when purchasing insurance:

• You never receive ID cards, a copy of the policy, or a renewal notice after purchasing insurance.
• Your proof of insurance card looks typed rather than computer-generated.
• Your agent (or producer) requests cash-only transactions or requests all transactions go through them (versus the insurance company).
• Your premium never changes from year to year.
• You receive a late or cancellation notice for failure to pay when you have paid on time.
• Your agent acts as a claims adjuster and/or issues payment directly to you.
• You see inaccuracies in information related to driving history or other underwriting details.
• You receive a certificate of insurance for an established homeowner’s policy instead of a renewal directly from your company.
• Your agent requests money or loans from you not related to a policy purchase.
• Your agent is constantly rewriting coverage or annuities.

Things you can do:

• Confirm with the Commissioner’s office that the insurance company (and/or the agent) are licensed to sell in Montana at https://csimt.gov/find-a-professional/
• Request copies of all documents you sign, as well as a copy of the policy.
• Don’t sign a document or contract with blank spaces or vague terms. Read and understand what you are signing.
• Always get a premium receipt when paying an agent directly.
• Contact your insurance company directly to confirm your policy is active and premiums have been paid.
• Read claims and explanations of benefits statements closely and check for errors.
• If you have a concern or want to file a complaint, please contact our office for assistance at 406-444-2040.

“I’ve tasked my agency with prosecuting bad actors to the fullest extent of the law. If you plan to defraud Montanans, know we will do everything in our power to hold you accountable.” Commissioner Downing goes on to say, “It’s not worth jail time and fines just to make a quick buck by defrauding someone.”

Watch Commissioner Downing and Investigations Bureau Chief Ted Bidon discuss what to look out for when purchasing insurance HERE.