Is there a specific organization or body that regulates the life insurance industry?
UPDATED: Sep 1, 2015
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Asked September 1, 2015
Unlike other financial institutions, insurance is not governed by a federal panel of overseers, or even a nationally unified code of law. Instead, insurance is regulated by each state, and insurance companies must be licensed to operate in every state they sell policies for.
Each state has a department associated with insurance companies, and each department is capable of handling inquiries about any type of insurance product, including life, health, and car insurance. The name of the department varies by state, but is usually the Department of Insurance, Insurance Commissioner, or something similar. In some states, the insurance department operates under another department, such as the Department of Commerce, or Department of Revenue. If you search for "state department of insurance" plus your state of residence, you will see the government agency you need to contact.
If you have any questions or complaints regarding life insurance, contact the appropriate Department of Insurance. Basic inquiries do not require any information from you, but complaints or specific questions will require you to identify yourself and the policy, including the issuing insurer, the type of policy, and the policy number itself. If you are having a hard time getting an insurance company to settle a claim or having some other consumer problem with the company, the Department of Insurance is the place to take your grievance to have it looked at objectively.
For the consumer, having insurance regulated at the state level can be a benefit. If insurance companies were allowed to regulate themselves, then each company could charge rates based on, for example, a particular Zip Code. If the industry was regulated on a national level, insurance companies would have less competition. By providing regulation at the state level, insurance companies are forced to compete on the same level, so they have to charge basic rates based on the entire state, and compete with other insurers in each state the company is licensed in.
Answered September 3, 2015 by Anonymous