Consumer Alert! Do it Yourself Claims Handling

What Do You Pay Your Insurance Premium For?

Washington, D.C. – Insurance experts at the Consumer Federation of America are warning consumers that their insurance companies may ask them to participate more in the investigation of their claims this spring storm season. Software now exists that will link your smartphone or tablet to the adjuster back in the insurance company’s claim office.

How does this work?

You’ll be instructed by the adjuster to download the app on your smartphone or tablet. Once downloaded, there are some additional steps to enable the software. You then will be able to take photos, video and speak with the adjuster. All of that information is then uploaded into your claim file.

Is that a good idea?

“Maybe or maybe not. Insurance companies will use industry buzz words like cycle-time and customer satisfaction but the real reason they are going to encourage you to use this technology is because it saves them claims handling expenses,” said Mark Romano, Director of Insurance Claims Projects at CFA and a National Claims Expert.  “The script you’ll hear from the adjuster will sound something like ‘we can do this together now, if you download the app and I’ll walk you through it or it will take a few days to get someone out to look at the damage.’”

What should a consumer do?

If the damage is very limited and isolated in scope, then this could be an efficient way to get your claim handled. An example would be a tree blown down on a small portion of fence. This tool may also be useful in a liability situation where the adjuster wants to see where someone fell in your home.

Damage that is more widespread or complex requires a comprehensive in-person inspection by trained, experienced claims professionals. You should insist that the insurance company send someone out immediately. You paid the insurance premium for this service.

Be particularly cautious if you use the voice capability component of the software. Whatever you say will be recorded and end up in the claim file. The adjuster may attempt to tie you down on the scope of damage or try to get you to state that the damage might be related to prior maintenance or repair. Those types of comments could adversely impact your claim. “It’s recommend that consumers be either very careful what they say or insist upon no voice recording,” said Mr. Romano.

Regulatory Input Needed

Insurance regulators are struggling to keep pace with claims technology. The CFA recommends that the National Association of Insurance Commissioners review this new technology and develop guidelines for its use. Insurers should not be able to “deputize” their policyholders as claims adjusters since they have no training in how to discover all of the damage or recompense due them in complex claims.

Contact: Mark Romano, 708-525-3975

The Consumer Federation of America is an association of more than 250 non-profit consumer groups that, since 1968, has sought to advance the consumer interest through research, education, and advocacy.