When you file a claim with your insurance company, it can be difficult to be patient to receive an expected paycheck. Like most who have worked in this industry for some time, I have had the misfortune to suffer my share of insurance claims. Rarely have I gone through an insurance claim when a settlement was reached and paid as quickly as I had hoped. This slow and agonizing claims process has always left me frustrated.
However, since becoming an insurance agent and witnessing claims investigations, I have a new appreciation for this slow pace. Before you dismiss me completely, let me share what I learned. It is entirely possible, in fact likely, that you will come to the same conclusion as me.
In 2001, I was involved in a terrible accident. A car slammed into me on the passenger side of my 1994 W900 Kenworth, then sped past me and I “boned” the car. The car spun again, now facing me from the driver’s side, and hit the driver’s side fuel tank, throwing the car into the median. It came to rest under a bridge at the I-5, California 60 and I-10 junction in Los Angeles. A witness stopped and immediately checked the driver of the other car (luckily his injuries were very minor) and then came to see me. He remained at the scene and insisted on giving a statement to the investigating officer. The witness informed the officer that the car literally slammed into the side of my truck as if they had deliberately hit my truck.
The damage to my truck was extensive, but not so bad that I couldn’t fix it myself. I took a week off and replaced the bumper and a wheel; repaired fuel tanks, fenders, etc. ; and got back to work. The claim seemed to drag on, and I wanted to be reimbursed for my loss (repair costs), especially when the witness indicated that it was a deliberate act by the driver of the car. After several months, I finally received notice from my insurance company that the investigation of the claim was complete and that my policy would not pay any medical or property damage to the other driver or the car he was driving. was driving.
The expert’s investigation uncovered several things.
- The car owner was not the driver.
- The car was not insured.
- Several payments to the car lien holder were overdue.
The expert concluded that it was a case of insurance fraud. I didn’t want a claim on my policy (even for uninsured motorist), so I didn’t accept a claim check for reimbursement of my repair costs.
If the insurance company hadn’t thoroughly investigated the claim, with or without an eyewitness, and had simply settled the claim quickly because that big, bad, ugly truck nearly ran over that poor, innocent little car, me and the insurance company would have been victims of insurance fraud. It could have cost the insurance company an untold amount, up to $1 million (my policy’s liability limit), and dramatically increased my premiums for years to come – or put me out of business completely.
In my case it would have put me out of business, because I was already a high-risk independent owner-operator paying almost top dollar for my insurance.
[Related: What goes into calculating your trucking insurance premium rate? Much of it is firmly under your control]
Recently, one of my insurance clients was involved in an accident. They were hit from behind by another truck. The company that owned that other truck filed a claim against my client’s police. They believed my client was at fault. Again, after several months (six or more, I believe), the adjuster from the insurance company completed the investigation. The adjuster denied the claim of the owner of the other truck that hit our client from behind.
In my client’s case, the insurance company had paid and settled the claim with the owner of the other truck, the insurance company would have accepted financial responsibility and paid thousands of dollars for an accident that the client didn’t was not responsible (at fault) for .
In these two very concrete examples, the insurance company is doing exactly what we expect of it: ensuring 100% that they and their policyholders (us, customers) are not victims of someone who tries to defraud the insurance company or make us accept financial responsibility for an accident for which we were not responsible.
What’s most surprising to truck owners is how slow the claim process for a single-vehicle accident is. In these cases, we always want the insurance company to fully investigate the claim before settling. Why? For exactly the same reasons as the two previous examples! If insurance companies don’t investigate every claim thoroughly before paying out a settlement, can you imagine how many cases would be fraud! ? This, in turn, would lead to premiums so high that none of us could afford to buy insurance.
I learned to think of our insurance system as something like our legal system. It’s not a perfect system, but it’s the best we have.
Need help with your own insurance? Call the author of this story: W. Joel Baker — if you have any questions about insurance that you would like to see Baker answer here in overdrive, leave a comment under this story or contact him directly via his websites.