PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — When was the last time you really looked over the paperwork that comes with your insurance bill?
As 3 On Your Side’s consumer reporter Jim Donovan found, it could mean the difference between being covered and being dropped!
Auto insurance, it protects you when you’re in a wreck, pays for damage caused by Mother Nature and can foot the repair bill when you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Lori Tavana figured she was in good hands since she was insured with Allstate.
“I think you are in good hands as long as you read the fine print,” said Tavana.
That’s because Allstate recently dropped her!
Not because of her driving record, but because of an issue with this renewal questionnaire she received last March.
“Everything really stayed the same as far as the vehicle and the drivers. I remember completing it and sending it in,” said Tavana.
But months later, Allstate sent her a letter saying they never received the completed questionnaire and as a result, were canceling her family’s policy.
“Unless we could provide proof that we had in fact mailed it, there was nothing that could be done,” said Tavana.
“We’ve had 179 complaints here at the department, which in all candor, is the only reason why it would rise to my level,” said Tom Considine, Commissioner for the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance.
After receiving so many complaints, his department directed Allstate to make changes to the questionnaire so that customers would realize its importance.
“It’s now highlighted in a big black box on the top, centered in a bold black band that says if you don’t fill out this questionnaire, then you may not be renewed,” said Considine.
In fact, Lori says she saw the warning, and sent in the questionnaire.
“It’s your word against there’s. Until we called you Jim, we were assuming that we would have to find another insurance company,” said Tavana.
After we sent Allstate a copy of the completed questionnaire that Lori had kept in her files, they investigated and agreed to reinstate the policy.
Making it another 3 On Your Side Problem Solved.
“I was happy to resolve the problem because frankly it’s very difficult once you’ve been canceled by an insurance company to try to obtain another insurance policy,” said Tavana.
These type of questionnaires are used for pricing purposes and make no mistake, insurance companies can cancel your policy if you don’t send it in.
While New Jersey now requires that Allstate provide a return envelope with the questionnaire, it’s addressed to a post office box.
My advice, no matter who your carrier is, when you send paperwork back, send it via certified mail with a return receipt requested or fax an extra copy to either the company or your agent and keep the confirmation page.
Reported By: Jim Donovan, CBS 3