A claims story with a happy ending
Cedric Stephens, Insurance HELPLINE
READER: Thanks for the advice you gave me after my car was rear-ended by a truck in March 2014. An ICWI representative gave me the option of claiming directly from the truck's insurer or from my policy. I grappled with the decision - this was my first accident and I was unfamiliar with the claims process. After I spoke with you I decided to make a claim on my policy. I was out of pocket for quite a few months. I had to fund my excess, pay the rental of another vehicle and face an increased premium since my insurance had become due during the course of the claim. It all worked out in the end as BCIC (though dragging on the process for quite a bit) eventually resolved ICWI's claim against them. In October my expenses - car rental, excess, additional loss of use and medical - were reimbursed. ICWI recomputed my premium and issued a refund for the increased premium I had paid which resulted in me earning a no-claims discount at the end of the policy year. This has been a very eye-opening experience. Things started out a little rocky I am very satisfied with the level of service that I received from ICWI, especially Samantha Henry. Once my file was handed over to her the process went smoothly and 'she held my hands all the way'. In retrospect, the experience was not as bad as I had feared given all the horror stories I heard. Another plus on my side was that the truck was adequately insured.
HELPLINE: I now understand why some persons - my wife included - like stories with happy endings. Your claims story, unlike the many that I receive, has a happy ending. It created warm, positive feelings - like those in a movie where the bad guys get their just deserts.
I really appreciate the fact that you found the time to telephone me last week to tell me about the outcome of your claim and also took the time to write about it and to 'big up' your insurance service provider. Unhappily, your experience is not the norm.
A gentleman wrote me a few days after we spoke. His experience was the exact opposite of yours. The circumstances of the collision was identical to yours - his vehicle was rear-ended by a car in February 2013. Both vehicles were insured by the same company. Nearly two years later the claim still remains unresolved.
Your claims service bar is set too low!
Marriage counsellor, Charlie Bloom, writing in Psychology Today, says by "keeping our expectations low we may hope to prevent disappointment, but this strategy holds some serious dangers. Limited expectations generate a modest vision of what is possible and they can easily become self-fulfilling prophecies".
While these remarks were made within the context of relationships, I strongly believe that they also can be applied to expectations of service from insurance companies.
Your claim should have been settled in two or a maximum of three months from the date of the collision instead of six months.
When insurance buyers and claimants have low expectations about the service that they get from their insurers, policymakers, regulators and other influential bodies like the PSOJ and the various church groups are unlikely to make demands for improvements.
Since April 2001 the local mobile telecommunications network has changed beyond all recognition. It is now at the stage where banking transactions can be initiated by way of smartphones.
Some companies are about to conduct experiments with what is now called mobile wallets. During all of this time, the motor insurance claims process - like our politics has remained virtually the same. We deserve better!
Cedric E. Stephens provides independent information and advice about the management of risks and insurance. For free information or counsel, write to: firstname.lastname@example.org