May 22, 2019
Missourians need to be on guard against robocalls offering health insurance
The Missouri Department of Insurance, Financial Institutions and Professional Registration warns Missourians to be aware of the surge of robocalls and other phone scams relating to health insurance products.
Most people have experienced unwanted or unexpected robocalls offering a product, a lower interest rate or a special limited time offer. However, when they receive unsolicited calls from individuals trying to sell health insurance, Missourians should be wary of any promises made.
Most of the time, these calls come from telemarketing centers. Sometimes the callers don’t give complete information, or the purpose of the call is to gather your personal information to use for other purposes. In rare instances, you may receive a call from a telemarketing center that is not licensed and the caller is not a licensed agent.
“I am alarmed at the increase in robocalls to Missourians using spoofed telephone numbers. Most of these are unscrupulous entities from out of state, preying on Missourians with promises of cheap and comprehensive health insurance,” said Chlora Lindley-Myers, Director of the Missouri Department of Insurance. “Missourians need to remember that old saying - if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”
Whether you’re shopping to find health insurance coverage online, a telemarketer calls, or you get an email selling health insurance, there are several important tips Missourians should always follow.
- No matter what – NEVER make a decision or buy a health policy after a single phone call or website visit. There’s no such thing as a limited time offer or a “special” in health insurance.
- Use the Health Insurance Shopping Tool to help compare health insurance policies.
- Make sure you’re always talking to a licensed insurance agent. Ask for their name, if they’re licensed in Missouri AND ask for their license number.
- Research the insurance company BEFORE you buy anything.
- Check the DIFP website to make sure the insurance company (and agent if you’re talking to someone) is licensed.
- Ask the Missouri Department of Insurance if there are any complaints against the insurance company or the agent. You also can check the National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ (NAIC) Consumer Information Search for information about complaints against the insurance company.
- Never give any personal information such as your social security, bank account or credit card numbers until you decide what health plan to buy. You don’t need to give this information to get a quote.
- Avoid clicking on any advertisement links that pop up on websites or social media feeds like Facebook.
- Avoid any websites that require you to create an account before you can see any information about health insurance plans.
With the rising number of robocalls trying to sell health insurance, it’s more important than ever to know the questions you should ask. You should always ask:
- How did you get my information?
- May I have your full name and contact information, please?
- What is the exact name of your company and where are you located?
- Is your company licensed?
- Are you a licensed insurance agent? If so, what’s your license number for Missouri?
- What’s the exact name of the insurance company on the policy and the name/type of policy I would be buying?
- What’s your company’s phone number?
In addition, it’s always a good idea to ask for a copy of the information to be sent to you through the mail. With a paper copy you can take your time to make sure the policy is as described. You also have information in hand to share with the Department of Insurance to make sure the policy is a legal product.
Missourians should be told about all fees up front. Sometimes, agents sell for associations that charge a separate membership fee plus the premium. Asking about the fees from the beginning means you’ll know the total costs.
Legitimate insurance companies and agents won’t rush you to make a decision and should be willing to provide a call back number for follow up questions after you’ve read the plan information.
About the Missouri Department of Insurance, Financial Institutions & Professional Registration
The Missouri Department of Insurance, Financial Institutions and Professional Registration (DIFP) is responsible for consumer protection through the regulation of financial industries and professionals. The department's seven divisions work to enforce state regulations both efficiently and effectively while encouraging a competitive environment for industries and professions to ensure consumers have access to quality products.