You hope that your claim will be handled quickly and professionally and you'll get the desired outcome, compensation related to your claim. When our area was hit by an inland hurricane a few years back, our house took on a lot of damage. Our entire area was hit, so we made sure to call our insurance company immediately to make sure we were first on the list. Luckily, our insurance company was quick to respond and we got everything taken care of promptly.
Note: You can see my post on the storm that hit our area: How to be Ready for an Emergency.
However, sometimes things go wrong and your agent or insurance agency mishandles your claim or you don't get the fair result you expected. In this case you don't have to just settle for what you get, you can report a bad insurance agent or agency through a claim with your state.
The first step when you get a decision that you don't agree with is to try to negotiate a better settlement amount or claim amount with the agent. If you can reach a satisfactory agreement that is often better then the time and energy that will be invested in filing a claim against the agent. However, if your case was just handled poorly or you just can't reach an agreement, then filing a claim with the state is necessary.
Where to Start
Search the state department of insurance website to locate the name and address of who to contact in your state. Some states like NY and CT have consumer complaint forms available for you to use in conjunction with their formal insurance department claim center. You can print and complete these forms to get started. If your state doesn't have forms available online, you can print one from a state that does and use it as a template for your complaint.
If you are having trouble figuring out who to contact in your state you can look up the National Association of Insurance Commissioners and their site will direct you to the appropriate contact in your state.
Filing the Claim
You will want to complete the claim against your agent thoroughly and accurately. This means thinking with a clear head and detailing facts only. It is important to list all events and contacts in chronological order. Include any contact you had with the agent, police, insurance company, doctors or anyone pertinent to your case.
Attach any necessary documents. This could be health records in terms of a health care claim or an accident report if it was a vehicle claim. It's important to hold on to the original documents and just send in photo copies in case they get misplaced and you need to furnish additional copies.
Remember to sign and date your claim before you send it in. Then you will want to send it to your state department of insurance claims.
If you want to achieve satisfactory results, it is important to follow up. Usually two weeks after you submit your claim is sufficient time for follow up. Keep following up ever week until your claim is handled.
Follow Up, Follow Up
A friend of mine who is industry read my post and wanted to add their two cents. I thought it was a good perspective, so I wanted to share…..
More from GFC, Below
Saw you post a few days ago about insurance claims. Being in the business, it struck a chord with me. I could ramble on with many things but a few that stuck out to me about your article/post/whatever was that it assumed everyone who has an issue with the way their claim is handled had a covered loss? Admittedly, I didn't research the context of your article but am assuming you're trying to educate the public. Just wanted to ensure that it was objective! Naturally, email/written text doesn't allow me to provide non-verbals and context to this message. It is all in good fun and nothing that I am losing any sleep over – or you either for that matter. Just some food for thought.
If you didn't receive remarkable customer service or were denied coverage for a covered loss, then there are grounds to file complaints. If the top insurance companies mess up, although I know that with respect to the people I work with and what I believe in my company, it isn't malicious. More so, human error or misinterpretations. I wouldn't bat an eye to file a complaint myself as a consumer if I thought I was treated unjustly or unfairly, especially when I've entered into a contract. But, if you expect insurance to cover general maintenance on your property when your roofer uncovered rotted roof decking once they take hail damaged shingles off your roof – there may not be anything a judge or the department of insurance can do to help you – maintenance isn't covered. Also, there are areas in most insurance policies that outline alternative dispute resolutions – be it appraisal, arbitration, or filing suit. Often times, these are measures sought outside of asking the DOI to step in which is often viewed as the final option when others didn't suffice (I think often times the DOI would agree).
One other thing I thought was interesting was that you filed your claim quickly to get to the top of the list. Certainly can't speak for all insurance companies, but can say based on my experience, this is a general misconception. Most companies assign claims based on severity. The people with more damage generally get inspected first. But there are a lot of subjective items that go into it as well – namely the schedule/location of the assigned adjuster. There are other factors but but just because you file a claim quickly doesn't mean you're going to get inspected quicker – relatively speaking.
Anyway, that is my 2 cents – or a quarter based on the amount I've typed out here! I just sort of felt like reading it, that you were maybe supporting filing a compliant when you didn't get what you thought you deserved when the general concept of insurance is confusing for many. I am by no means saying all insurance companies have unwavering ethics or morals. Since USAA is giving you some props – check out there article about myths in insurance. They list some common ones that any insurance company would agree are out there. Wow – I thought this would be a few sentences and this turned into a book. Now I need to go back and read it again and make sure I've covered everything! Anyway, I seriously wanted to more so give you props for what you're doing and jab at you a little and this turned heavy on the jab (in good fun) and less on the props.
Have you had a bad experience with an insurance agent? If so, share your experience in the comments below.
photo credit: BP America