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An Independent Voice When It Counts

While emergency communications are essential in time of crisis, there is little if any focus on the insurance industry's role and lack of meaningful information available to disaster survivors.

There are basically two major forces in democracy that directly affect the public: business and government. The public having an improved, independent voice would in my opinion enhance and improve the third leg of that democracy stool. Most people carry insurance, and in a crisis such as a disaster look to insurance or government for guidance and recovery. However, in modern times there has been a marriage of sorts between business and government when it comes to insurance and quite honestly, business rules. Please see www.disasterprepared.net/whitehouse.html.

I propose having an informed, prepared, insured public, capable of calculating, preparing and adjusting its claims, within its authority already specified in standard insurance policy wording, and the insurance industry to consider those claims submitted. This idea is not much different than the HR Blocks of the world or the public itself calculating and preparing income tax forms, and the government considering those filings subject to review and audit.

"We only want the right to let the market determine the amount we should be paid. . ." The player representative seemed to have no problem justifying what only seemed reasonable. After all, the owners are not limited in the money they can make. So what could possibly be wrong with getting all you can in a free society? The very same thing that is wrong with the insurance industry wanting all they can get from policyholders. You see, baseball and insurance, oddly enough, are immune from federal anti-trust laws. These monopolistic industries legally combine their forces to get their way. However, both have commissioners protecting the public, in a manner of speaking. Under the circumstances it is asking quite a lot of the commissioner system, considering the powers' extended latitude and quest for dominance.

While emergency communications are essential in time of crisis, there is little if any focus on the insurance industry's role and lack of meaningful information available to the insuring public. Crucial information should reach them before too late. It is difficult to think past what you are taught, as each generation becomes more co-dependent, thanks in large part to industry advertising, ironically, paid for by policyholders from their insurance premiums. Would you like to count on your insurance? You can. Most people think they are financially prepared for a disaster simply because they carry insurance. However, the millions of people who suffer from a disaster each year such as earthquake, hurricane, tornado and flood generally have no idea what they should financially expect, even after asking around. Nearly everyone has been left out of the loop. Disaster survivors lack their basic policyholder rights and vital information in their time of need, when they are most vulnerable. And, adjusters take advantage. That is just how it is and for one reason or another there is not yet enough public pressure for government to make a change.

If there is one thing I am sure of, it's that most insurance consumers have not had access to fundamental insurance claim rights and information, such as how to figure, file and settle insurance claims (considerably different than merely reporting a loss), not to mention insurance company timely obligations, responsibilities, and rules that tell policyholders some of what they should expect. Most people carry insurance...why shouldn't crucial information reach them before too late? It should.

I believe that lack of psychological emotional preparedness for disaster, and dysfunction after the disaster apply more broadly than to insurance. I think it has a great deal to do with attitude and a trend over the the last century or so towards people being less self-sufficient and more reliant on others in many ways. When we give up authority in the name of convenience we accede to being led, and that sometimes leads to a walk down the primrose path. That being said, if you lack the basics it makes it impossible to assume the correct attitude for independent thought.

When it comes to disasters there is nothing more basic than the elements of recovery. Those very elements that pertain to insurance took me years of investigation to uncover. Some came to me by research and some came by serendipity. The claim recovery rules that are unknown to virtually everyone, including most insurance adjusters themselves, came as news to me in the mail when someone thought I should have them instead of some other item I had requested from the NAIC, the government entity that makes the insurance rules. And, on another day while doing research in a law library a stranger approached and said, "You might be interested in this," and handed me excerpts from an interesting claims training manual. It laid out insurance industry tactics in dealing with the public and a layman could easily see that companies are out to win, not find common ground. I still have no idea who dropped that kind of information in my lap, or why.

If insurance companies can put their heads together, how about the notion of a phantom coalition: "United Public." There are no additional premiums to pay and membership is automatically effective in exchange for a willingness to participate. The public has never been united in any such union or pact. In a free-for-all, perhaps all we need is to better recognize our own individual authority and collective impact. Insurance consumers definitely have a separate interest to protect, and only through apathy have they gotten themselves in this situation. They have to break free of the co-dependent slogans, and find their independent voice. However, for that to happen they must be prepared to look beyond the veil and realize they are champions to win that rainy day.

© 2012-2013 APB

Please see www.disasterprepared.net/adjust.html for adjusting information.


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