05 January 2015

Insurance Games

I don't need to dwell on how the Insurance Industry is corrupt and how misleading many (if not most) of the agents are. The ones that aren't are often just ignorant of how their industry functions and under what principles it operates.

We could talk about manipulation of policy obligations and payouts. We could talk about fine print. We could speak of holding back information regarding coverage and adjustments in policies that would save a policyholder a great deal of money or enable more coverage. We could talk about their manipulation of the legal system and the entire legislative process, investment strategies, agents and residuals, shakedowns, threats and much else.

But at the same time those in the industry will decry the fraud committed against them, and it is this deception and dishonesty that I personally see firsthand. As someone who is hired to perform services for people I am often approached by those seeking an official estimate by a licensed contractor that they can turn into the insurance company as a claim.

Just today while I was eating lunch a local guy showed up at my door. His house had been damaged by a drunk driver and he wanted an estimate. At least he was honest and admitted he would probably do the work himself, but he needed the estimate to turn into the insurance company.

What often happens is the contractor will spend time looking at the job, taking notes, working out an estimate and getting prices. Then he has to type the thing up and send it to the homeowner. Altogether I might invest 2-3 hours in the process or more depending on the job.

And this service is always free. Every contractor knows that there's a chance he won't get the job. But he does the estimate anyway believing the homeowner is genuine in his desire. The labour that goes into the estimate is done on a good faith basis.

When the homeowner knows that he's just going to take the estimate and turn it in and then either do the work himself or in some cases not do it all... the contractor has been misled and has wasted his time and energy.

Today I told the guy I wasn't interested. I didn't elaborate, but I've had it with insurance estimates and don't want to be involved in them anymore. I recommended some other people. But I mentioned if he's honest with them he'll offer them something (maybe $50?) for their time and effort. They may or may not do it. No one likes doing estimates but maybe if someone was paying for it....

What I also don't like is that the homeowner almost always tries to get you to pad the estimate. They want it inflated so that they can squeeze a little more out of the insurance company. Many even ask for two estimates... one for them and one to turn into the insurance. That's really quite common. I've always refused to do this and it usually damages or ends the client relationship.

Now I'm not feeling sorry for the insurance companies. They negotiate all their prices, over-depreciate everything and squeeze out every penny wherever they can. They are a deceitful lot and I personally have no regard or respect for anyone who works in the industry in any way.

But... two wrongs don't make a right. It's not our place to exact vengeance. It's not our place to feel morally vindicated in behaving as they do. At this point many a businessman, in fact many a 'Christian' financial guru will tell me I'm naive if not foolish.

If that's their take on it, so be it. I'll be foolish and simplistic in my business acumen. I would rather be honest and forthright.

The world is full of thieves. If I'm honest and almost always finish last then that's my lot isn't it? I'm not invested in the society and I don't judge my success or failure by their standards.

But by in turn deceiving the insurance companies we help to perpetuate and endless and quite cancerous cycle. I turned down the work because I don't want to bother with it, but also because I already know my estimate will be one of the lowest in the area. I'm not what he wants. He's going to want one of the other guys with fancy trucks and their names painted on the side... some of the one's whose work I get hired to fix on occasion. It's an irony that's both sweet and bitter.

As I said, I've broken with several clients over the years due to this issue. I've had some that were really quite astonished that I wouldn't supplement my estimate and just flat lie about what was damaged. I've also known plenty of guys who spent the time on estimates to find their time was wasted. The person never rebuilt the garage or the shed.

It's using and abusing people, taking advantage of them and throwing them away. It's everywhere but I refuse to have any part in it. I won't work for the criminals but I won't rip them off either. Then I would be just like them.

I'm afraid too much of what passes for Christian wisdom is in reality a vindication of the world system. This is a particular danger in the American setting. I'll admit, it's very difficult to work through all these issues. I was really bothered the other day when I changed my car insurance and when looking over the new policy I read the fine print about how I had to participate in a lawsuit if my insurer chose to file one. I don't like that but I don't have a choice. Hopefully it won't come to that. If it did, there would probably be some difficulties involved due to my non-compliance. But... that's life in a fallen world.