California policyholders historically have a very involved and protective Department of Insurance. Those wishing to file California consumer complaints about slow-paying, wrongfully denying, or simply just bad insurance companies have a fairly easy method to do so.

The quickest and easiest way to file a complaint with the California Department of Insurance (CDI) regarding your insurance company is to visit, and select “File a Consumer Complaint Online.” Alternatively, you can call the CDI toll-free consumer hotline at 1-800-927-HELP (4357), and a representative can help you file your complaint.

What Does the California Department of Insurance Do?

The CDI reviews your complaint and contacts the insurance company for their response. They won’t necessarily act as a judge or issue a binding decision, but they can mediate communication and work towards a resolution. However, filing a complaint can be helpful in documenting the issue and potentially prompting further action from the CDI if they discover a pattern of similar problems with the same insurance company.

But what happens when the CDI doesn’t assist a consumer beyond collecting information about their complaint? You still have resources: In 2020, Merlin won a suit against the CDI for not meaningfully investigating a company’s refusal to cover the loss of a client’s home in the 2017 Tubbs fire.

How To Write a Complaint Letter Against an Insurance Company in California

Before filing your complaint, make sure you have all relevant information on hand. Collect your policy documents, any communication records, like emails, texts, or phone calls, and any claims paperwork. It’s also important to be specific in your complaint; the more details you provide, the easier it is for the CDI to investigate.

Make sure you also review your policy for any deadlines that the insurance company has included in it. Missed deadlines have been the downfall of many a California policyholder with an otherwise strong suit against their insurer.

We at Merlin usually call for giving the insurance company and its claims personnel a fair and quick chance to fix things because anybody can make a mistake.  If, however, you’ve tried this route without results, you feel you’ve been treated unfairly, or the appraiser hasn’t valued the damage correctly, we’re here to help you navigate the process.

California already makes it fairly easy to file a complaint online: Just follow the directions on the website. If you prefer to submit a hard copy, they also have templates according to the kind of complaint you are filing (health insurance complaints have a different form than auto insurance complaints, for example). Completing the process in hard copy can delay the process, however, and the CDI recommends you use their online forms.

How Long Does an Insurance Company Have To Investigate a Claim in California?

Once the consumer has submitted a complete proof of claim with all supporting documents, in California, an insurance company generally has 40 days to investigate a claim and either accept or deny it. The insurance company can request an extension if they need more time to investigate.

One thing that can extend the timeline for reimbursement is if the insurance company asks you for further information or documentation and must wait for you to provide it. In that case, it’s good to comply to the best of your ability; not only do you demonstrate good faith, but you are collecting documentation in case you need to pursue a complaint down the line.

How To Contact the California Department of Insurance Claims Service Bureau

There are several different ways to contact the CDI: The easiest way is to go to their website at You can also write, telephone, and visit in person. Contact information for these methods is below.


Consumer Hotline: 1-800-927-4357
TTY:  1-800-482-4833


California Department of Insurance
300 South Spring St.
South Tower
Los Angeles, CA 90013

Visit in person:

300 South Spring St.
South Tower
9th Floor
Los Angeles, CA 90013

8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday to Friday, except noted holidays

Further Resources on Insurance Coverage Law

Navigating the complexities of insurance claims can feel overwhelming. Whether you’re facing unpaid claims or simply filing for the first time, our eBooks equip you with the crucial information you need to advocate for yourself with confidence.

Why Merlin?

Are you fighting an insurance company that won’t pay up on claims? With nearly 40 years of practice and $2 billion in recovered claims, our team stands by your side to ensure you can face any insurance challenge with confidence. Contact us today for a consultation, or read more about how we’re your trusted advocate.