Insurance issues once again tops the list of reasons people contacted Massachusetts’ consumer affairs department. But the 2013 totals – released Wednesday- include a sub-group: business owners fighting for reimbursement after the Boston Marathon bombings.
“The Division of Insurance did take a look at that and we issued a bulletin to insurance companies, advising them that if a business had business interruption insurance, that business loss due to the marathon bombings was something that was covered, and that those claims should be resolved quickly and expeditiously,” says Barbara Anthony, the department’s undersecretary.
Anthony says her staff heard roughly 200 such complaints.
Problems with phone and cable companies where the second and third most common consumer issues in Massachusetts last year. Anthony says her agency is seeing more and more calls and emails from residents concerned or confused about those utility bills.
“We don’t prescribe exactly the way a bill should look,” Anthony says. “In terms of the cable business, for example – there’s so many choices that people have, and so many packages that there are. People are constantly changing their preferences in that regard. So I’m not sure that there’s necessarily a regulatory solution for all of this. The thing is, consumers do have – we have – responsibilities. I mean, it’s our money.”
Other big consumer topics the department dealt with in 2013: problems with home improvement contractors, and car issues – including those involving the state’s lemon law.
For the year, the department helped people and businesses recoup more than $5 million. That’s less than half the total from 2012, when Anthony says there were some large settlements with insurance companies.