Study: State Insurance Department Websites Are Short on Consumer Help

The trillion-dollar insurance industry is largely regulated at the state level — that’s the first place consumers should go for help and information on products such as home, auto and life insurance. But the websites of individual state departments of insurance are falling short on their duties to consumers, according to a new analysis.

The NerdWallet study looked at department of insurance websites for all 50 states and the District of Columbia, scoring each on more than 20 factors to determine which sites were most helpful to insurance consumers. The results: The average insurance department has considerable work to do online when it comes to helping residents navigate the complex world of insurance.

The average rating in the analysis was 60%. The Texas Department of Insurance scored the highest at 98%, and New Mexico’s Office of the Superintendent of Insurance the lowest at 17%.

Insurance department websites were rated on offerings such as updated premium comparisons, updated insurance company complaint data, consumer education resources and the quality of consumer telephone assistance.

These departments “have a lot of information for consumers that no one else has, information that no one else can really help you with,” says Robert Hunter, director of insurance at the Consumer Federation of America and former insurance commissioner of Texas.

Since being notified of the study, several departments have updated their websites, including in New Mexico, where spokesperson Alan Seeley credited the NerdWallet analysis for motivating its consumer-centric updates.

Elizabeth Renter is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: Twitter: @ElizabethRenter.

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