Last week I wrote about an insurance claim that actually went right from start to finish (a fairly rare occurrence in my experience). This past week I was reminded of the awful reality of how rare that is, and how terrible it can be when things go wrong (at least until they go right).
|Image courtesy of flickr.com|
Imagine you are the grandmother of 5 children, and you are their sole caretaker and guardian. That sounds pretty tough enough, doesn’t it? Now imagine that the home the 6 of you live in is completely destroyed in a fire…2 days before Thanksgiving! Are you crying, yet? If not, just wait.
Now imagine you contact your insurance company of many years, and they assure you (on the phone) that everything will be alright, and they will send an adjuster out right away. An adjuster does come, but instead of paying you for the loss, or even advancing you some money for a place to live, or for clothes to wear (other than those on your backs), or for your next meal, you are told they will be sending an expert to investigate and determine the cause of the fire, and that you will have to make yourself available for a recorded statement.
During that recorded interview, you are asked about your finances, your medical history, your relationships, if you have a criminal history, whether you are taking prescription medications, where you were and what you were doing when the fire broke out, whether you or anyone you know had anything to do with the fire starting, and just enough other questions to make you feel like a suspect in the arson of your own home (when it wasn’t even caused by arson to begin with).
|Image courtesy of en.wikipedia,org|
Weeks pass as adjusters and investigators inspect the home and consider whether or not to pay any part of your claim. All the while you are forced to live with a relative who has 3 children of their own (that’s now a household of 8 kids for those of you with rusty math skills!). Weeks turn into months, and you don’t hear anything from your insurance company well into January (certainly you have a tear at this point, right?).
It is easy to understand how anyone could begin to lose hope at this point, but fortunately one of the fire restoration companies that came around looking to bid on the job told you about a public insurance adjuster that might be able to help get the claim processed. You contact them, agree to hire them, and finally things start to go right. Within days you get a $5,000 advance so you can move into your own place while your home is being repaired. The mere sight of the check causes you to completely break down. And not long after that, your public adjuster calls to say another $235,000 is on the way.
This is what countless numbers of people go through every year in dealing with their insurance companies. And it is what gives me great pride and satisfaction in my chosen career. I was at a networking event with the adjuster that handled this claim recently, and we told the story of this claim. When we were done, the woman sitting next to me (vice president of a local credit union) was staring at me, with a mixed look of shock and disgust, and said, “I don’t get it, why wouldn’t they just pay her?” to which I replied, “Why would they want to do that?” “Isn’t that the whole reason for insurance?” she asked. “Yes” I said, “but if they paid her, their profits would be less, wouldn’t they?”
|Image courtesy of Pixabay.com|
Obviously, I was toying with her a bit, but she soon realized what I have been saying for years – the smiling faces you see on TV and the catchy jingles you hear on the radio for insurance companies are not what you will likely be faced with when you actually file a claim. You will go from loyal customer to financial adversary. Every penny they pay out in claims is money taken from their bottom line. And they don’t like that.
This story illustrates that things can go very wrong in the course of an insurance claim. But as we have seen, things can also go right, either straight from the beginning or after they started going wrong. Unfortunately, most people will never be told they have the option of hiring a professional adjuster to assist them on their claim. For them, the ending to the story could be just as heart-wrenching as the beginning.
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And this is why I network, promote, talk to people, and use social media blogs. I want everyone to know they don’t have to settle for less than everything they are entitled to. I want them to know they have options, and they don’t have to simply accept poor treatment from an insurance company. They don’t have to hire me. They don’t have to hire anyone. I just want them to know they have the right. I really just want them to know, because people who know make better decisions that lead to happier endings.
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.