The Insurance Department is on pace for an above-average year in recovering money for Missouri consumers. The Department has recovered $9.9 million through September. That’s up $3.4 million over the same period last year, and about as much money as has been recovered for a typical year, over the last decade.

Those numbers have been driven up by this year’s severe weather, according to Division of Consumer Affairs Director Angela Nelson. She says $2.3 million dollars has been recovered from claims related to the tornadoes in Joplin, St. Louis and Sedalia. Consumers have made 988 complaints and inquiries about Joplin tornado claims, and insurance companies have paid over a billion dollars in claims there.

This year’s floods do not figure into the total, however, because flood insurance is a federal program.

9,500 written inquiries and complaints have been submitted this year compared to 5,800 in the first nine months of 2010. More than 15,000 consumers found assistance on the phone.

AUDIO:  Angela Nelson with the Department of Insurance says in most cases, insurance companies are not deliberately dodging a claim.  :19

The top reason for complaints is in a company’s handling of a claim. Nelson says that might include a denial, a settlement being delayed or its offer being low. The most common reasons for complaints were denied claims (879), delays by processing (574) or low settlement offers (408). Auto insurance claims prompted the most complaints (652), followed by homeowners’ insurance (493) and health insurance (432).

Those with complaints or questions can contact the Insurance Department at (800) 726-7390 or file a complaint online, here.

AUDIO:  Listen to Mike Lear’s interview with Angela Nelson, Department of Insurance Division of Consumer Affairs Director.  3:45