DCBS Media Release
January 4, 2002
Oregonians urged to get smart about insurance
Although a majority of Americans feel they have about the right amount of insurance, only 28 percent say they understand their coverage very well, according to a recent national survey. That's why the Oregon Insurance Division and the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) are encouraging consumers to get smart about their coverage during national Get Smart Week, Jan. 14-18.
Oregon residents are urged to visit the Insurance Division's Web site (oregoninsurance.org) or contact the division to request free consumer publications. Also available on the division's Web site is an interactive quiz allowing visitors to gauge their level of insurance knowledge.
"When it comes to insurance, knowledge is your best policy," says Oregon Insurance Administrator Joel Ario. "Get Smart Week is about making sure your family is properly covered. We believe the Insurance Division is your best resource for insurance-related questions and concerns. Get Smart Week is the perfect opportunity for us to connect with consumers and encourage them to get smart about their coverage."
To gauge Americans' understanding and perceptions of their insurance coverage, the NAIC, a voluntary organization of state insurance regulators, commissioned a national telephone survey of 1,021 adults. Respondents were asked a range of questions based on the various types of insurance coverage they may have, including life, home, auto, health, personal liability, disability, and others.
Majority feels annual insurance review a good idea
When asked about annual reviews of insurance policies, the vast majority (83 percent) feel it is a good idea. The survey found older adults are least inclined to review and update policies yearly.
"It's understandable that reviews are a higher priority during the years when a family is growing," Ario says. "But changes in the insurance industry are frequent and significant. Older adults need to be careful not to overlook changes that may benefit them."
For 90 percent of respondents in all age groups, a primary benefit of having insurance is peace of mind. However, not all are convinced their coverage is adequate. Overall, the survey found perceptions of coverage adequacy are linked to a household's financial resources. Thirty-two percent of households with less than $15,000 annual income feel they have too little coverage. This drops to 16 percent in households with incomes of $50,000 or more.
At the same time, the survey found most Americans don't take advantage of the services offered by their state's insurance department. Only half of adults were aware of a specific insurance department in their states and only 14 percent had ever contacted the department for help.
Although Americans find peace of mind in having insurance, they want to understand it better, Ario says. "The Oregon Insurance Division is here to help them do that."
How consumers can "get smart" about insurance
According to Ario, there are several steps consumers can take to get smart about their insurance coverage.
"We recommend consumers know what kind of coverage they need before they shop around. It's up to consumers to watch out for their own best interests."
Other recommendations from the Oregon Insurance Division include:
"The Oregon Insurance Division is a terrific source of unbiased information," Ario adds. "You may not have the coverage you need. You may have more than you need. You may feel you've been treated unfairly when shopping for insurance, or you may just want help understanding how different kinds of insurance work. No matter what your situation is, we are here to help you get smart about insurance."
The Oregon Insurance Division is located at 350 Winter St. NE, Salem, 97301-3883. To contact the Consumer Protection Section, call 503-947-7984 or 1-888-877-4894 (toll-free in Oregon). The e-mail address is email@example.com. Information to help consumers increase their insurance knowledge is available on the division's Web site (oregoninsurance.org)