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New York, April 14, 1999

As part of the New York State Insurance Department’s ongoing effort to best serve the needs of consumers, Superintendent of Insurance Neil D. Levin today announced that the Department has launched an innovative on-line computer system to track and manage the resolution of consumer complaints. The new system, called Consumer’s Information and Imaging Management System (CIIMS), fully automates the complaint processing and workflow of the Department’s Consumer Services Bureau.

"Our imaging system is up and running with great success. Automating the 60,000 consumer and provider complaints the Department receives each year makes resolving complaints easier for all involved – the Department, policyholders, and the insurance industry," said Levin. "We will continue to take advantage of advances in technology so that similar workflow management systems can be implemented in other Department Bureaus as well to increase our efficiency and responsiveness throughout the organization."

CIIMS provides more efficient document processing, routing, and storage system than manual handling. With CIIMS, documents flow electronically from one workstation to another reducing the possibility of lost or misplaced documents and files. The imaging system saves money in terms of file storage space, photocopying and postage. Documents are imaged at the time of receipt, stored electronically and can then be retrieved at the push of a button. The Department is currently working on enabling CIIMS to electronically transmit complaints to insurers for their electronic response back. Complaints and other documents will no longer need to be photocopied and mailed to licensees.

"As the premier insurance regulatory agency in the world we owe it to our consumers to take advantage of the latest computer technology so that we can serve them in the best way possible," said Levin. "The information our Department gives out whether over the phone, through our consumer brochures, or through our many outreach speaking engagements not only helps consumers shop for insurance, but they also learn what their rights are. An informed consumer is always the best consumer."

The Department’s Consumer Services Bureau investigated over 60,000 complaints last year from consumers and providers. The Bureau also responded to approximately 500,000 telephone inquiries for information. The Bureau provides assistance to consumers who are having a problem obtaining satisfaction from their insurance company or agent or broker as well as provides general insurance information.

The Department offers consumer shopping guides to insurance including automobile insurance, life insurance, homeowners and tenants insurance, health insurance, medigap insurance and long term care insurance. Publications are free and can be obtained by calling 1-800-342-3736 or visiting the Department’s website at www.ins.state.ny. The Department can also assist consumers through its TDD for the hearing impaired at 1-800-220-9250 and through its multi-lingual line at 1-800-218-8222 which provides for translations regardless of the native language involved.

The Department’s website also contains health insurance and automobile insurance resource centers which contain premium rate comparisons, complaint rankings of insurers, summaries of important laws, and other invaluable information.

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