Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Texas Department of Insurance: Be Careful When Buying Insurance

The following is a message from the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI).

With changes in the health insurance market, some people might use the changes as an opportunity to steal your personal information, identity, and money.

TDI licenses insurance agents, brokers, and companies. You can use an agent or broker to help you shop for health insurance. To check on an insurance agent’s or a company’s license, call TDI’s Consumer Help Line at 1-800-252-3439 or visit our website at www.tdi.texas.gov.

Currently, the federal government oversees navigators and counselors that help consumers shop for insurance in the federal marketplace. To verify a navigator or counselor is certified by the federal government, call the federal marketplace at 1-800-318-2596 or visit www.healthcare.gov.

Follow these other tips to protect yourself as you shop:

  • Beware of phony health insurance websites or exchanges set up by scammers to collect your personal information. Make sure the insurance company you buy from actually exists and is licensed.
  • Don’t be pressured into changing coverage. If you already have comprehensive health insurance through your employer or through Medicaid, Medicare, CHIP, or TRICARE, you are not required to change plans.
  • Be cautious of unsolicited emails, phone calls, letters, or anyone who comes to your house uninvited. Do not give your Social Security number or personal information to anyone you didn’t contact. This includes responding to phone calls, letters, or emails.
  • Ask questions if you don’t understand something and take notes. Write down the names of the people you talk to and what they tell you. Get their phone numbers, addresses, and email addresses.
  • Make sure the insurance you’re buying meets your needs. Some insurance policies include only limited benefits.
  • Take your time to decide. Don’t buy anything from anyone who tries to talk you into making a quick decision.
  • Don’t be pressured into buying coverage. No one should call you or bill you for a tax penalty. You are not required to have an insurance card. You can’t go to jail for not having insurance.
  • Don’t sign anything you haven’t read and don’t fully understand. 

For answers to general insurance questions or information about filing an insurance-related complaint, call the TDI Consumer Help Line between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Central time, Monday-Friday, or visit our website at www.tdi.texas.gov.

Insurance fraud is a crime in Texas. To report suspected insurance fraud, call 1-800-252-3439 or file a report online at http://www.tdi.texas.gov/fraud/.

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