Know Your Insurance Rights

People in a position to file an insurance claim often have to process strong emotions that they might not normally feel: upset, confusion, sadness, anger. There may be physical pain, too, if there was some type of accident involved. The last thing anyone needs in these stressful moments is for someone from an insurance company to make it worse.

Yet it happens. Because some companies care only about minimizing claim payouts, they hire pit-bull adjusters whose raison d’être is to try to write the smallest checks possible. They are trained to be aggressive and matter-of-fact, making you feel like you have no other options. They will use your distress over the situation against you, preying on the human urge to get the bad feelings over with.

What those adjusters won’t tell you is that a settlement offer is just that—an offer. If you don’t think it’s fair, you don’t have to take it. You could try any of the following instead:

  1. Ask for a different adjuster from the same company.
  2. Speak to your state insurance department or commission—they should have a consumer services person to assist.
  3. Hire an attorney to dispute the claim value or, in some states, a public adjuster to do an independent valuation.

You are not powerless. This right to dispute a claim offer is one of many that you should be aware of as an insurance consumer. Here are a few more:

Proper Valuations
If you are insuring expensive items, be sure to have them appraised before you take out a policy; you may find that the limits on your policy are too low to cover replacement. Kelly Klee recommends taking out a Personal Collections policy because you get the full value of an item, not a depreciated amount, at the time of the loss.

New Broker
Did you know that you can fire your insurance broker without affecting your coverage? If the person who sold you your insurance isn’t meeting your expectations, you have the right to switch to a new broker at any time. Just call the insurance company and ask for the name of other brokers who carry their products.

New Insurance
You can also switch to a new insurer at any time. This is true whether you’ve prepaid or not—you are entitled to a prorated refund on any unused amount. So if your prepaid premium was $600 for 12 months of coverage and you cancel at six months, you will receive $300 back. Just make sure to coordinate your timing so that your new coverage starts before your old coverage is cancelled.

Note, too, that an insurer also has the right to cancel your policy. But they can only do so with advance notice and under particular circumstances, such as nonpayment of your premium or if you were dishonest on your application. Even in that case, you would be eligible for a prorated refund, if applicable. Check with your local insurance department or commission to get specific information about the cancellation rules in your state.

The Bottom Line
If your insurance broker or company doesn’t treat you with respect, you should move on. A good insurance broker should be an expert source of information and an advocate for you.

At Kelly Klee, we excel at playing this role for our clients, although we often don’t have to. This is because:

  1. Our agents are insurance experts. They will assess your needs thoroughly and only recommend insurers that are the right fit.
  2. We make sure our insurers and customers agree on valuations of property before any policy terms begin.
  3. Our insurers have a strong focus on customer service. They want your repeat business, not to dissuade you from making a claim by being unpleasant.

If you’re not currently a Kelly Klee client, please contact us at 844.885.1600 or email to see how we can make your insurance-buying experience a good one. Your satisfaction is our priority.

« | »