|As good a system as insurance is, it isnt perfect. Masses of people,
mountains of paper and myriads of problems must be processed daily and
hourly by the best of companies. Everything seems to go smoothly as long as
all you have to do is pay your premiums. But when it comes time to file even
a small claim, you are treated as an adversary.|
can still make the system work. You just have to take a few steps to
make your position clear. Dont be afraid to challenge any denial or unfair
your contract carefully. Plan to spend a quiet hour studying it. Learn
specifically what is not covered.
an inventory of your belongings. Keep it in your safe-deposit box.
• Descriptions of possessions that
matter to you. List the makes and model numbers of electronic equipment and
• Photographs or a videotape showing
the condition and quality of your
• Appraisals of expensive items such as
antiques, artwork, furs, and jewelry.
documenting purchase prices. Canceled checks or charge card statements can be
File a complete and accurate claim. Take your
time and fill out everything the way the insurance company wants
• File a police report. Your claim may be
denied if you dont.
• Write a detailed account of
the incident immediately after it occur so that you dont forget any
• Take photos of the
• Telephone your agent and send him or
her a copy of the police report. Follow his or her instructions on how to
prevent further damage.
If the insurance companys offer
seems low, request a written explanation of
how it was calculated. An attorney can sometimes help. For a modest fee,
legal intervention might persuade your insurer to raise the offer rather
than incurring further legal expenses.
There are three types of
disputes you are most likely to
• Ambiguously worded clauses. The courts
often find in favor of the policyholder if the language of the contract can
easily be misinterpreted.
• Offers based on
substandard repair estimates. If you feel that the shop whose quote your
company accepts does poor work, get several other estimates to prove theirs
• Offers that ignore pertinent information.
If you can prove that your car is much more valuable than the Blue Book or
NADA figure, you might be able to negotiate a better
It may seem frustrating to
satisfy so many requirements to get your company
to honor your claim, but think of both sides. You wouldnt want your company
to leave itself open to abuses. It could eventually fail and your policy
would be worthless. Sometimes the rules seem to get in the way, but they
were actually designed to protect you.