How a personal insurance agent can help you recover from a personal or commercial loss.
The fiercest winds in 50 years caused a lot of damage in Pasadena and Los Angeles on Wednesday.
On the street where I live, I saw at least 2 cars that had been crushed by huge tree limbs that fell on them, smashing the roof and windows. “Comprehensive” auto insurance coverage, also known as “other-than-collision,” is devised to help an insured recover from just such a loss. It also provides coverage from theft. Home owners and business owners whose awnings blew away, or whose roofs were damaged, or windows broken, or who lost business due to a power outage, should be able to recover the loss from their property insurance. Businessowners’ policies even typically provide some coverage for plants, shrubs, and trees (usually limited to $2,500 or less per plant), and may be able to include the cost to replace the trees that were torn from the ground in their claim. The fastest and easiest way to report a claim is to call the insurance company claims hotline directly. My Safeco Insurance clients should call 800-332-3226. Insureds who have bypassed an agent by purchasing insurance online, or directly from the insurance company, must call their claims hotline, and have no other alternative. However, an insurance agent provides a second alternative to contacting the insurance company directly and dealing with the claims hotline. My clients know that they can always call me for assistance with the claim. Having an agent is valuable for (at least) two reasons: an agent has a personal, continual relationship with you and should be familiar with your special situation already. Less time is spent gathering information and correcting misunderstandings. Secondly, an agent is familiar with the “inside contacts” within an insurance company, and can help a client “go up the ladder” if a problem arises and the claim is not handled to the client’s satisfaction. For example, I recently assisted a business client who had experienced an costly auto accident. The dealership, where the Mercedes had been taken for repair, was backed up and not cooperating with the claims department. After several non-responses, and an estimate that was close to the car’s value, the insurance company moved to declare the vehicle a total loss, rather than proceeding with repair. The insured preferred to repair the vehicle. I intervened with both the dealership and the claims department, pointing out to the dealership that they were about to lose the repair business unless they offered better terms to the insurance company. On the claims side, I contacted the manager of the claims department, reviewed the valuation report, noted that the vehicle’s condition was better than the report indicated, and thus a total loss would require a larger settlement than previously thought. The vehicle was repaired, and my client was pleased. The insurance companies that I represent have excellent, fast, and friendly claim departments, and claims are handled to the customer’s satisfaction the first time around, which is why I recommend that clients make their initial report directly to the insurance company. But if the case goes awry, I’m available to assist. Pasadena will be green again, and the residents and businesses who are properly insured will be able to recover from their loss relatively painlessly. That’s what insurance–and an insurance agent–is for.