The Consumer Assistance Bureau assists consumers who are having difficulty with an insurance issue. Consumers may submit complaints involving insurance companies, adjusters, agents, or other insurance industry staff members concerning the issuance or cancellation of policies and the processing of claims. We process complaints in two ways: First, we attempt to assist the consumer in resolving their disputes in a fair and impartial manner; secondly, the Bureau determines if there has been any violation in the New Mexico Insurance Code or the insurance policy provisions.
If you would like to file a formal complaint against an insurance company, please go to the section titled “file a complaint”. Follow the prompts, answer the questions, and submit any documents that may be helpful to your complaint. After submitting this complaint form, a copy of your completed form will be sent to the insurance company, agent or adjuster in order to obtain a written response. Upon receipt of this response, the case will be reviewed and if necessary, referred for further investigation by the Civil Investigation Bureau.
The Consumer Assistance Bureau does not have the regulatory authority to determine damages or making settlement decisions on your behalf. The Bureau cannot give you legal advice or act as your representative. You may wish to consult with a private attorney to explore what rights of action or other options you may have based on the facts of your particular case.
Auto, Home & Renters Insurance
Shopping Tips for Automobile Insurance
Select a Financially Strong Insurer
It is important to shop around to get the best price for the coverage you need. Talk to several representatives from a number of different companies. Tell them what your insurance needs are and ask them what their company will charge to cover you.
Once you have narrowed down the companies you are considering, call your state department of insurance and find out if the company is permitted to do business in your state. If they are not, do not buy the insurance and tell your department of insurance that the company is trying to do business in the state.
Check with rating agencies for a financial analysis, grade or rating of the insurance companies. These are conducted by several private companies and are only opinions. However, they can provide you with some information about how private analysts view the financial stability of a particular insurance company. Ratings are available at most public libraries or on the Internet.
Check the company’s complaint record. You can obtain aggregate complaint information through the NAIC’s Consumer Information Source.
Your state may also publish a complaint study indicating the number of written complaints your insurance department receives against an insurance company.
Remember, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Lowering Your Auto Premiums:
- Shop around and compare prices
- Take the highest deductible you can afford
- Older cars, consider carrying only liability coverage
- Review your policy periodically/update coverage
- Maintain a good driving record
- Before buying a car, determine the cost of insuring
- Pay your premium well in advance of the due date.
- Ask about discounts
- Multiple cars on a policy
- Good student drivers under age 25
- Airbags and other safety equipment
- Low mileage accident-free record
- Completion of driver education courses
- Mature driver (between 50 and 65 years of age)
- Anti-theft devices
- Auto/home insurance with the same company
The Basics Of Condo And Co-op Insurance
If you think insurance for your condominium is covered by your association fees, think again. Typically, your monthly condo fees are used to fund a building insurance policy. This generally provides coverage for perils outside of your unit like the building’s structure and covers liability if someone is hurt on the property outdoors.
But if your unit is robbed or damaged, building insurance will not provide coverage for your personal possessions. You also don’t have protection from personal liability if someone is injured inside your unit. To protect your belongings and yourself, you need to purchase a personal home insurance policy for condos (called an HO-6).
Insuring The Building
Condo and co-op owners should first review their association’s master insurance policy to find out what that policy covers, and what it doesn’t. In most cases, that building insurance policy should cover physical damage and liability for common areas such as the hallways, roof, basement, elevator, boiler and common walkways.
In some cases, the building association’s insurance policy also covers the standard fixtures in each unit. The condo owner might only be responsible for personal property inside the unit and for any additions or alterations made to the original structure. In other situations, the building policy covers only the bare walls.
Insuring The Condo And Your Belongings
Under the general terms of HO-6 condominium owner coverage, your policy should cover your personal property from the following perils:
- Fire or lightning
- Damage caused by aircraft
- Windstorm or hail
- Riot or civil commotion
- Damage caused by vehicles
- Vandalism or malicious mischief
- Volcanic eruption
A basic condo/co-op policy should also provide liability protection for incidents such as someone tripping and falling while inside your unit.
If your co-op or condo building is damaged by an insured disaster or its members are sued, and the cost of that damage is not fully covered by the association’s policy, this type of coverage would pay for your share of an assessment charged to all unit owners.
What Affects the Cost of Homeowners Insurance?
Like auto insurance, the cost of homeowners coverage depends largely on where you live. Crime rates vary from community to community and so does the access to your local fire department, police department, and water supply. These factors help determine the protection class. Along with the value of your house, the following factors determine the rates you pay for homeowner’s coverage.
Type Of Construction: Frame houses usually cost more to insure than brick.
Age Of House: New homes may qualify for discounts. Older homes may not qualify for preferred programs. Insurers may require older homes to have updated heating, plumbing, wiring and roofing.
Local Fire Protection: Your home’s distance from a fire hydrant and the quality of your local fire department determine your fire protection class.
Amount Of Coverage: The amount of coverage you buy for your house, contents and personal liability will affect the price you pay.
Deductible Amount: Your choice of a higher deductible will reduce the price for homeowners insurance.
Discounts: Insurers offer lower prices for such things as insuring your home and car with the same company and installing deadbolt locks or alarm systems.
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Emergency Preparedness: Ready Gov
Renters Insurance: To Purchase Or Not To Purchase
It’s important to protect the things you value. Life insurance protects your loved ones, auto insurance protects your car and health insurance protects your good health. But what about renter’s insurance? As with any additional insurance purchase, it’s important to evaluate coverage and research your options. Here are some tips from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) to help determine if renter’s insurance is right for you.
To Purchase or Not to Purchase?
As with any insurance policy, you should evaluate the benefit of coverage on an individual basis. Your landlord’s coverage will take care of damage to the building’s structure. However, if you want to protect your personal belongings, you may want to consider buying a renter’s insurance policy. In addition to personal belongings, some policies will also cover living expenses if your apartment or home is uninhabitable due to damage.
Which Form is Right for You?
There are two standard renter’s insurance policies:
- The Broad Form covers personal belongings against specific events, such as fire or theft. This is the most commonly purchased renter’s policy. Typical coverage under this form includes damage from fire, lightning, explosion, smoke, vandalism, theft and water-related damage from property utilities.
- The Comprehensive Form provides coverage for a range of events unless specifically excluded by the policy. Considering the potential amount of coverage, the premiums for this policy may be higher. The location also may be considered when choosing your form. If you live in an area prone to violent storms, such as hurricanes, consider purchasing a comprehensive policy that specifically addresses storm damage.
Actual Cash Value Vs. Replacement Cost
One important factor to look for when shopping for renter’s insurance is “actual cash value” vs. “replacement cost” coverage. While it may not affect your short-term premiums, it may make a large difference in your claim submission
Actual cash-value coverage, as the name implies, will reimburse you for the cost of the property at the time of the claim, minus your deductible. It’s important to account for depreciation when considering this coverage option. For example, if you lose an audio system that was purchased five years before the claim, you will be reimbursed for the current value of the system. This may result in a lower claim payment than you expect. Replacement cost coverage, on the other hand, will reimburse the full value of the new audio system – after you purchase the new system and submit your receipts. While the up-front cost is greater, you are more likely to receive accurate compensation for your possessions.
If you have unusually expensive items, such as fine jewelry or an art collection, you may consider adding a “rider” to provide extra coverage. Your agent can help you determine if an additional rider is needed.
Does Everyone Need Renter’s Insurance?
It’s always a good idea to take precautions to protect yourself and your belongings. But, not everyone needs renter’s insurance. Dependents, such as college students, are automatically covered under their parent or guardian’s policies. On average, a dependent is covered for up to 10 percent of the parent’s policy. Double check with your insurance agent regarding the specific provisions of your policy.
From Homeowner To Renter
As the economic downturn continues, more and more people are losing their homes to either foreclosure or financially motivated downsizing. In fact, foreclosure filings increased by 5% in October, a 25% increase from October 2007.
As homeowners, most people carry a mortgage and, therefore, have no choice but to purchase homeowners insurance as a requirement of their loan. But, for renters, the choice is their own and many people facing financial uncertainty might choose to go without renter’s insurance, even though they have many of the same risks as homeowners when it comes to protecting possessions or being liable for accidents at home. Some of the most common misperceptions include:
Renter’s insurance is too expensive, and I already have enough bills to pay.
The average renter’s insurance policy costs between $15 and $30 per month. Replacing all of your possessions or being liable for an accident on your premises will cost much more.
I don’t have that many valuables; renter’s insurance isn’t worth the cost.
Renter’s insurance policies can cover everything from electronics to clothing to household appliances. Even a minimal number of items could add up to thousands of dollars’ worth of merchandise, which can all be covered in a basic policy.
My landlord has insurance, so I’m already protected.
Your landlord has insurance for structural damage to the building, and might even be protected against damage caused by tenants. However, this coverage does not extend to your personal property, nor does it protect you from being liable for damage you might cause to the building inadvertently (e.g., a kitchen fire or a plumbing mishap).
Consumers used to have homeowners insurance may not understand the differences between the two types of coverage. Talk to your insurance agent or company about the property you want to protect and the property hazards you would like to be insured from. Your agent can give you coverage policy specifics based on your state and the type of policy you want.
The Consumer Assistance Bureau processes complaints against most insurance companies involving:
Our office does not receive nor have records of any policies purchased. In locating a Life Insurance policy. We would recommend that you try the following link: Life Insurance Policy Locator Service.
Contact Consumer Assistance Bureau
Office of Superintendent of Insurance
PO Box 1689
Santa Fe, NM 87504-1689
Office of Superintendent of Insurance
1120 Paseo De Peralta
Santa Fe, NM 87501