The state insurance department expects to field more complaints about insurance companies as more and more people are affected by the drought or issues related to it. The department has seen it happen with other natural disasters—an uptick in the number of complaints filed by consumers. Officials say it’s natural for people to file more claims during disaster periods and follow with more complaints when they and their insurance companies don’t agree.
Last year the department mediated complaints that produced $19-million more for consumers than insurance companies originally offered. More than one-fourth of that amount was linked to the Joplin tornado.,
The department’s director of consumer complaints, Matt Barton, says that people who are hurting understandably want to be made whole as soon as possible.
Barton says damaged consumers face a lot of inconvenience, making the department’s role as a mediator more important. He says the department gathers information from the consumer and the company, and while the department has no authority to force a company to pay, it can determine if the company has operated in line with state regulations.