San Diego

A consumer representative wants insurance department Web sites to provide more information about specific insurers.

Daniel Schwarcz, an associate professor at the University of Minnesota Law School, talked about department Web site content here at a consumer liaison forum at the spring meeting of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, Washington.

Schwarcz is a “funded representative,” meaning that the NAIC provides funding for him to represent consumer interests at NAIC meetings.

Schwarcz said insurance departments should provide information about topics such as how well individual insurers pay claims, how often they are sued, and how often judges and juries have found bad faith.

The only information of that type that departments now provide consists of reports on complaints submitted to state insurance departments, Schwarcz said.

Most of the site information aimed at consists of educational materials, such as explanations of what insurance covers, or discussions about how much life insurance an individual should buy.

Althought this type of information is useful, Schwarcz said, consumers also need to know how reliable the coverage they buy really is.

Gregory Squires, a consumer representative from George Washington University, said the NAIC also should look into how insurers treat consumers of difference races.

The data show that there is a discrepancy in how people of different races are treated, Squires said.

Sonja Larkin-Thorne, a Connecticut-based consumer representative who worked in the insurance industry for over 30 years, reacted to Squires’ comments by saying the focus should be on consumer education, not race.

Every person of color who submits a claim does not get treated poorly, Larkin-Thorne said.

“I have a problem with everything coming down to race,” Larkin-Thorne said.

Squires said that, just because everyone of color does not get treated poorly, that does not mean there is not a problem.

Not all candidates of color are discriminated against when they apply for jobs, but that does not mean labor laws protecting minorities should be eliminated, Squires said.