Is it Time to Come Out of Your Cave Yet?

By Mark Goldwich

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Unless you’ve been living in a cave, you know emails are very much in the news lately. Private
emails, business or government emails, mixing the two on multiple devices via multiple servers have been a hot topic lately.  Not to mention whether or not these emails (and text messages) can, should or must be saved, and for how long, and by whom, have been discussed and dissected nearly non-stop for the past week or so. And it doesn’t look like there is an end in sight to neither the topic nor the controversy generated by it. My goodness, if it weren’t for Ferguson, MO flaring up again, and Iran going nuclear, you can imagine how we would all be hearing about Emailgate 24/7?

“How does this have anything to do with insurance claims?” you might ask. Because, like so many aspects of our daily lives these days, more and more correspondence is done by a keyboard and transmitted electronically these days than by the U.S. Mail. Insurance companies and their adjusters often have email addresses, and most allow these representatives to communicate with their customers electronically. Personally, I think this is a very bad idea for insurance companies or adjusting firms, and few are limiting this activity.

Why is it bad for insurance company representatives to email or text a claimant?  I would respond by noting the obvious, that electronic communications are fast, but permanent (unless you have a private server and limit access to it). It is too easy to quickly respond to an email or text, sometimes without thinking it through, or doing any serious fact-checking. And once someone hits “send”, they can’t get it back.

Besides, if you are the insurance company, you don't want anything happening quickly. As I often
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say, time is the insurance company's best friend. Time is always on their side. Time is what gets claimants to grow so frustrated with the process that they are willing to accept a lower settlement, or to prefer to walk away with no money at all, rather than to continue to fight for what must seem like an eternity. I’ve seen it myself all too many times. Time is also what causes some claimants to die (literally) before their claims get settled. Do you really think family members, with plates already full of obligations, want to add an ongoing claim dispute they know nothing about to their to-do list? Not likely.

Keep in mind though, if you are the claimant, while you want to take advantage of the speed of electronic communications, you also need to be careful not to send a hastily written communication that can be made part of a permanent record, because you too will be unable toretrieve it after clicking “send”. Naturally, this is another reason you should entrust the claim to a licensed professional who should not be sending emails or texts without giving them proper consideration, and who should not be caught up in the emotion of the moment.

So, my advice to claimants would be, hire a professional to help you with your claim. And if you insist on trying to handle a claim yourself, use electronic media for communications as much as possible, but be sure to put due thought into whatever you put in writing.  Understand that once sent it can’t be undone, and that if you ever say the wrong thing, the insurance company can, and will, use it against you later. Another piece of advice would be to keep copies of all these communications in case you need them at a later date as well.

Case in point: We currently have a client who suffered a significant flood loss. She called her agent,
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who she had multiple policies with for several years. She had a good, one might even say friendly, relationship with her agent. After suffering the loss she contacted her agent who said he would take care of it. Time passed and she kept in touch with her agent, mainly by texting. From her texts with the agent it seemed like there was nothing unusual about the claim. It was just taking a while to get it processed. And then she got the settlement paperwork, which was prepared by the agent, that showed most of the claim was not being paid. In fact, the payment came out to about 5% of the entire claim, or about $4,000 on an $80,000+ claim.

That was enough to prompt her to hire us, and once she did, we quickly learned what was happening behind the scenes. Things that came as a complete shock to her. But the good news was, she had saved all the emails and texts between her and the agent, and while this claim has not yet been resolved, we strongly believe those saved communications will go a long way towards getting this claim turned around for her. All those short conversations tell a story (different from the one the agent was telling).  They show a pattern of behavior, for both her and her agent, that could make all the difference in the world in this “he said, she said” situation.

In this blog we have gone from coming out of our caves to observe current headlines, to advice for insurance claimants on using electronic communications. This included a real-life example of how that advice could be applied to your advantage. I hope you will be able to benefit from this information well into the future. You never know when you’ll need it. And now, back to the news…

Mark Goldwich is president of Gold Star Adjusters, a group of public insurance adjusters dedicated to helping citizens get the maximum settlement for any insurance claim.


  1. What seems to still be in the cave is the antiquated way in which insurance companies deal with claimants. Maybe it takes a caveman to deal with them.

  2. This is so true! They will attach a consent form and if you type in you initials you've sign their agreement. Often times their agreements are long and not easy to understand. Wow!