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Kip Tips

Find Out How Insurers Handle Claims

When choosing an insurance company, check its complaint record to see if other consumers are unhappy with its claims process.

If you're in the market for auto, home or health insurance or are thinking about switching insurers to get a better deal, don't focus solely on premiums.

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"Trying to save a few dollars in premiums can backfire if your insurer give you a hassle at claim time," writes Kim Lankford in the May issue of Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine. She recommends that you check out a company's complaint record through the National Association of Insurance Commissioners' Consumer Information Source (www.naic.org/cis). The NAIC gathers complaint data from state insurance departments for health, homeowners, auto and life insurance.

Here's what Kim suggests you look for in a complaint record:

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Focus on the complaint ratio, which shows the ratio of the company's U.S. market share of complaints to the company's U.S. market share of premiums for the type of policy you're considering.

Compare that figure with the national median complaint ratio of 1.00. It's a good sign if it's 1.00 or less.

If you've had trouble getting your insurance company to pay a claim, see Kim's tactics to help you claim your cash.

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