My blogs typically expose the tendency of insurance companies to either reduce claim payments, or avoid claim payments altogether. And today will be no different. But today I want to focus on what happens when claims are handled well by an insurance company. It does happen, even if far too seldom (in my opinion … based on decades of experience).
|Image courtesy of commons.wikipedia.org|
I believe the first thing to go right for this insured was to have a contractor who was truly looking out for the insured’s best interest, rather than simply the contractor’s own best interest. The contractor knew if the insurance company did not agree to pay the claim, it would still count on the insured’s claim history, and could even result in the insured losing his insurance with this company, and he would be forced to find insurance elsewhere – and in Florida, that is not always easy.
Once I determined this particular claim should be valid, the insured signed an agreement with me to handle his claim, and the claim was submitted. We provided his insurance company with our contract, a letter of representation, and within just a few days we also submitted our estimate.
Less than a week later, we were meeting with a representative of the insurance company at the insured’s home. This was another thing that went right. Typically, we are lucky to hear from an insurance company within a week of submitting a claim, let alone meeting with them. Often, we don’t hear anything back from insurance companies, especially if the claim was previously submitted and closed with little or no payment prior to our involvement. And when we follow-up with the insurance companies, we often get the impression that if we never called them, they would never have called us, even though we send written correspondence requesting they contact us to schedule an inspection.
|Image courtesy of commons.wikimedia.org|
With that, we proceeded with the inspection. She quickly agreed the roof was sufficiently damaged to warrant a full replacement. Whether or not she would have made that same determination if I was not involved, we will never know for sure. But my experience tells me, probably not. When we discussed the screens, she stated that she did not agree with me on my scope of the extent of the damage to the screens, and she told me why. She also asked me to clarify my position, which I did.
She then did something few adjusters do on a regular basis in this area. She got in her car, and instead of leaving in a huff, she told me she would write her estimate on the spot, taking my estimate into consideration, and see if we could settle the claim right there and then. This is something I did hundreds of times as an adjuster for State Farm, but that was a long, long time ago, and except in storm situations (which this was not), we rarely see this happen today. In fact, most adjusters we meet are independent adjusters, who are third party administrators for the insurance companies (not employees), and they often tell us they are simply acting as the eyes and ears of a “claim examiner” or “claim processor” who will be settling the claim, and that they don’t have the authority to settle the claim or even say what they think is covered (even most of the employed staff adjusters we meet do not settle claims on the spot, and don’t always have the authority to detail what the carrier will and won’t pay for). So this was not only another something that went right, it was quite a refreshing change of pace.
In the end, she prepared an estimate that while less than mine (they almost always are), the contractor agreed was quite adequate, so the insured accepted it, and we were all able to shake on the agreement. The check arrived about a week later - this was the final thing to go right! It’s great when things go right, but especially when it comes to insurance claims, you can’t expect things to go right, or hope things will go right, you have to intentionally plan for things to go right.
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.