Archive for the ‘Insurance’ Category
Before your eyes glaze over, your head goes into free-fall, allow me to point you to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) database of insurers who have been in receivership. This newly initiated project to get all state insurance commissioners to supply data on insurance providers licensed in their states, now contains historical data and will expand to include balance sheet information of active receiverships. The strangely named, Global Receivership Information Database (GRID) –since, I think, it’s just national — is “a voluntary database provided by the state insurance departments to report information on insurer receiverships for consumers, claimants, and guaranty funds.”
Information from more than 1,200 receiverships, provided by state insurance departments in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, are housed within GRID. This includes such information as receivership contact information, relevant court orders and docket numbers, ongoing tasks, distribution of assets, claims-liability details, business activity and deposits.
The other NAIS database, Company Search for Complaint and Financial Information, is a search by insurer name, which only provides the states in which the company is licensed and statistical information on complaints. NAIS points you to the state map with links to state insurance commissioners to get details on actual complaints. Problem is, many states don’t have that information at their Web sites, so you’ll have to make a state Freedom of Information Act request.
Texas gives an extensive explanation of the information in their complaint files, provides the records, but in a form that’s cumbersome to use. Their database of disciplinary actions against insurers and agents is searchable, covering 1996-2008.
Does your state have complaints against insurers online?
Here we go again, another incident involving a private investigator that tarnishes the reputation of an entire profession all in the name of making a quick buck.
A local Ohio newspaper is now reporting that a worker at the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation has allegedly admitted to selling the Social Security numbers and other non-public personal information of injured workers’ to a private investigator.
The private investigator has not been identified, but the case has been referred to the Cuyahoga County prosecutor’s office for possible criminal prosecution.
While it doesn’t appear that the information provided was being used for identity theft, the bureau is still notifying 49 injured workers whose personal information appears to have been was compromised.
These incidents only provide legislators with more ammunition to exclude licensed private investigators from legitimate access to valuable personal information.
One can only hope that those PIs who are willing to break the law, or forget about professional ethics, are caught and punished.
What do you think about this incident?
The International Association of Insurance Fraud Agencies links to state government insurance agencies, insurance fraud associations and international organizations. In the U.S., the same government agency can be responsible for investigating individuals who defraud insurance companies as well as dishonest insurance representatives who steal from or otherwise defraud the consumer. This site covers both types of resources.
The Coalition Against Insurance Fraud delivers consumer fraud alerts and research papers to journalists. The Coalition also has brief summaries of various insurance scams.
The Fraud Prevention Checklist is an interactive guide to assessing a company’s vulnerability to fraud, provided by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners.
Get insurance company financial profiles and data on the types of policies they issue, from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.
Consumer education and tips on email scams, mortgage costs, tainted drugs and identity theft prevention are at the federal government Federal Citizen Information Center, Consumer Action Web site. The site also has a complaint form letter and a list of all the federal agencies to which you direct your complaints, with topical indicators (i.e. “Airline Accessibility or Discrimination” or “Telephone Service”)
Some states list enforcement actions at their Web site. The Maryland Insurance Administration regulates Maryland insurance companies and agents. It issues public orders of actions it takes against agents, agencies and brokers, cataloged to 2003. Search all enforcement actions by keyword from the Google search engine using this query but replacing “keyword” with your terms.
The Google project to assist 4 state governments – Arizona, California, Utah and Virginia – in their indexing of public records is explored in Google Burrows into State Government Data, written by Barbara Quint. This project will daylight more state government records, including personal information records, which are public records currently available, but not through a search engine.
Would you like to be able to search by name, business name or address through all the California Department of Consumer Affairs license records in one Google search, for free? This won’t replace the all-in-one search of professional license records available through proprietary databases, which often archive historical data not at the government sites, but it will be an advantageous supplement.
So, I went on a mini mission to see how best to search for a personal name across all California professional license records. I formulated queries of last names only, first and last names, – with and without quotations – single words and also names in reverse order. There wasn’t enough of a pattern in the results that I could say which records can be reached through the search engine at this time. But take a look at these results to get a sense of where this project is headed and just how significant it could become as more states participate.
After many trial runs I settled on this simple query for the word/name “Wren”. It returned results from the Division of Workers’ Compensation Medical Unit physician complaints, Alcoholic Beverage Control licenses, Engineer and Land Surveyor license holders, and license and personnel details from the Contractor State License Board and the Department of Real Estate.
A search at the State of California search engine, powered by Google, returned mostly PDF and Word files, not the dynamically generated content in the license records.
See also, Find public records in the deep Web, PI buzz.
The North Carolina Industrial Commission maintains an updated directory of links and addresses for workers’ compensation agencies, including worker compensation courts, and vocational rehabilitation, administrative hearings, oversight and appeals boards. In addition to the detailed listings for the U.S. Department of Labor and all 50 states, there are links to other regions: American Samoa, Guam, Navajo Nation, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.