Insurance Claims: You Must Spend Money to Collect Money

March 31, 2009

Insurance claims are getting more and more complicated. Insurance companies are on a mission to increase their profits. That may mean that your insurance company will deny claims, delay claims and defend claims to beef up their bottom line.

The fabled management consulting firm of McKinsey and Company was retained a short time ago by three of the largest Property/Casualty companies in the world. That would be Allstate, Liberty Mutual and State Farm. McKinsey’s mission…as always…is to show companies how to earn more profits. Their final report recommended “The Three Ds”…defend claims, deny claims and delay claims.

All three companies have used this strategy aggressively to boost profits for their shareholders. Concurrently, all three have experienced higher than ever complaints of claims handling. Other companies have noticed the higher profits, and will likely follow suit.

I’m leading with that part of the story to show you that the claims experience you may look forward to…or have had…or are experiencing right now…is not a mistake, or an isolated incident.

So, what can you do when you have a claim?

First: understand that you cannot just trust the insurance company to take care of your claim for you. They are protecting THEIR money. The moment you file a claim, you become their adversary. If you allow the insurance company to handle your claim for you, you are a fool. They will cut corners and pay the absolute LOWEST amount possible to get you to sign a Full Release and close the claim. You will leave hundreds or even thousands of dollars on the table that you could have collected.

Second: just because you have a deductible on your insurance policy doesn’t mean that the deductible amount is all you’re going to have to spend. You need to realize that you might have to spend some extra money to collect the money you’re entitled to collect.

Like what?

– $50-$200 to have your attorney review ALL the documents the insurance company asks you to sign.

– $50-$200 to get an independent appraisal of your car if it’s been damaged.

– $50-$200 to get an independent restoration contractor’s estimate of your real estate property if it has been damaged. Many restoration contractors will do an estimate for free, but be prepared to pay for it.

– $50-$200 to have your attorney supervise your recorded statement with the adjuster.

– $50-$200 for an Independent Medical Examination if you are injured in an accident that was not your fault.

These are just a few of the claims expenses you should EXPECT to pay on your own behalf. Your policy states that it is YOUR RESPONSIBILITY to prove your claim.

But cheer up!! Spending a small amount of money to prove your claim will usually result in you collecting hundreds or even thousands more dollars in your claim settlement.

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Insurance Claims Adjusters: Five Secrets of Getting Your Way With Claims Adjusters

January 21, 2009

Insurance claims adjusters are, for the most part, very nice people in a tough job. They are caught in between the insurance company that wants them to control the claim settlement amount, and you, the policyholder or claimant, who wants the very highest settlement amount possible.

But I’m not nearly as concerned about them. If they don’t like their job, they can quit. Nobody is forcing them to be claims adjusters.

I’m mostly concerned about you, the policyholder.

The book that I wrote, “Insurance Claim Secrets REVEALED!” shows consumers all the ways that they can take control of their insurance claims, and add hundreds or even thousands more dollars to their claim settlements. Many of the strategies in the book are confrontational. But you can learn to confront honestly without unpleasantness.

Insurance companies have games and scams that they use to delay claims and minimize settlements. Policyholders and claimants are usually placed under financial hardship when they have an insured loss. Few of the people I’ve ever met who had a claim could afford to repair or replace their damaged goods out of their bank account. Most of the time, people depend upon the restitution they receive from the insurance company.

Insurance companies know this, and rely upon it. They know that delays will place pressure on policyholders and claimants, and that makes them more willing to accept lower settlements.

Back in September 2008 I wrote and posted an article about “Dealing with Adjusters.” It has been one of my most popular articles. Thousands of people have read it. But today I want to put a spin on that article and make an even more obvious point.

When you are dealing with claims adjusters, make sure that you are ALWAYS pleasant, well-mannered, and polite. You can’t control them, but you CAN control YOU.

You need to “nice them to death!” Make sure you are doing the following:

1. Speak calmly whether in person or by phone, no matter what your level of frustration may be.

2. Make your requests for payment, documents or any other requests politely, and make them in writing.

3. Be firm but respectful when you are using a claim strategy. Being demanding will only make the adjuster feel threatened, and he will want to resist your demand to prove he cannot be controlled by you.

4. When you write a letter, be sure that you are polite and respectful. Simply state what you want them to do and remember to say “please” and “thank you”…just like your mother taught you.

5. Do not, under any circumstances, lose your temper! Words said in anger are impossible to retract. You can apologize as much as you want, but better to say things for which you will not have to apologize. Be in control. If you feel like blowing up at your adjuster, end the meeting or phone conversation and come back another time to finish your business.

I promise you that you will never regret maintaining your composure when you are immersed in the claims process.


Insurance Company Complaints: Who Are The Top 10 Companies With The Least Number of Complaints?

November 13, 2008

Insurance Company Complaints: Who Are The Top 10 Companies With The Least Number of Complaints?

The New York State Department of Insurance (DOI) just released the 2008 Annual Ranking of Automobile Insurance Complaints. The report has been issued to help consumers find the automobile insurer that best meets their needs. You can use this report to compare the ranking of the insurance company you are doing business with now, or check another company you may be considering.

This report analyzed data collected from 2006 and 2007. It only ranks companies doing business in the State of New York. However, as New York is a heavily populated state, with both big urban centers and big suburban areas, the report can be considered a good representation of insurance company performance nationwide.

How The Ranking Works

The insurance companies are ranked on a complaint ratio. The ratio is calculated by the number of complaints upheld against companies as a percentage of their total private passenger auto business.

Insurers with the fewest upheld complaints per million dollars of premiums are shown at the top of the list. The companies with the highest ratio of complaints are ranked at the bottom.

Other Information to Consider

The ranking of an insurance company is important, but it is only one characteristic that consumers should weigh when considering doing business with an insurance company. Others are:

• Referrals from friends, relatives, neighbors or co-workers about the experiences they had with their insurance companies
• Price of the premium versus perceived value
• Search the Internet for other ideas
• Check your state’s DOI website, which may contain valuable consumer information about companies doing business in your state.

What The Ranking Does and Does Not Contain

• Private passenger insurance is the only type evaluated.
• It only includes the complaints referred by consumers to the DOI. It does not include complaints made directly to the insurance companies.
• Complaints are “upheld” when the DOI agrees with a consumer that an insurance company made an inappropriate decision.
• Information from prior years is included in the tables so consumers can see if the company has improved or gotten worse.
• All companies with at least $10 million in premium in 2006 and 2007 are included in the ranking. Insurers with less than $10 million were included if they had 10 or more complaints against them.

Top Three Most Common Complaints

1. Monetary settlements – settlement amount is too low.
2. Policy terminations
3. Promptness of insurance payments

2007 Auto Complaint Listing (ranked lowest number at top, higher as you go down)

1. Mercury General Group
2. American Express, Amex Assurance, IDS Property Casualty
3. Eveready Insurance Co.
4. Electric Insurance Group
5. Amica Mutual
6. Preferred Mutual Insurance Co.
7. United Services Automobile Assurance Group (USAA)
8. Chubb
9. Utica Mutual
10. State Farm
11. Central Services Group, Central Insurance Group, NY Central Mutual Fire Ins.
12. Main Street America Group, National Grange Mutual
13. Progressive
14. Liberty Mutual
15. Kingsway Insurance Group, Lincoln General Ins.
16. Response Insurance Group
17. Nationwide Insurance
18. American Modern Ins. Group, American Family Home Ins.
19. St. Paul Travelers
20. Unitrin Group, Kemper
21. Erie Insurance Group
22. Berkshire Hathaway Insurance, GEICO
23. Allstate Insurance
24. The Hartford Insurance Group
25. Hanover Insurance, Citizens Ins., Allmerica Financial Alliance
26. Metropolitan Group
27. American National Financial Group
28. Allianz Insurance Group
29. GMAC, Integon, MIC P&C, National General Ins. Co.
30. Zurich Ins.Group, Foremost, Maryland Casualty
31. Hannover RE Group, Clarendon National
32. State Wide Insurance
33. White Mountains Group, OneBeacon, Esurance, Auto One Ins.
34. Countrywide Insurance
35. Safeco Insurance Group
36. American International Group (AIG)
37. Tri-State Consumer Ins. Group
38. Interboro Mutual
39. Infinity Property & Casualty
40. Long Island Insurance

Conclusion

If your auto insurance provider is not shown on this list, it could be that they don’t sell insurance in New York. Or, it could be that their number of complaints is worse than the company in the #40 position!!

Think about this statement, my friends.

The only thing that truly matters about your auto insurance is what happens when you submit a claim. Claims are about KEEPING PROMISES. When the insurance companies don’t keep their promises, the complaints pile up!

So, why would you EVER consider doing business with any insurance company LOWER than NUMBER 10 on the list?

If you are one of the unfortunate people who experience an automobile loss of any kind, you’ll need to know how to handle your insurance claim so that you maximize your recovery. In fact I’ll be so bold to day this: If you submit a claim without using the strategies in my book, you are guaranteed to collect less money that you are entitled to collect. You will need to know how to take control of your insurance claim, and add hundreds or even thousands more dollars to your claim settlement. For more information, check out the website at: http://www.insurance-claim-secrets.com