You might be wondering: “Do I have to accept the insurance offer from my insurer, and what can I do if I have doubts about it?” First and foremost, it’s crucial to be aware of your rights and the responsibilities of your insurer. In cases where you’re uncertain about the fairness of your claim payout, you have options.
Your Broker’s Responsibility: If you’re working with a broker and they advise you to accept a low payout without thoroughly considering all the steps taken by the insurer in arriving at that figure, they could be held liable. Brokers have a duty of care towards you, the insured, and must act honestly and in your best interests. This is not only common law but is also outlined in Section 2 of the General Code of Conduct under the FAIS Act.
Understanding Your Insurer’s Ethical Duties: Insurers have ethical responsibilities and must act honourably, professionally, and with due regard to the fair treatment of the insured. If they fail to do so, they may be held accountable.
Steps to Ensure a Fair Settlement:
- Review Your Policy: Carefully go through your insurance policy to understand what is covered, the policy limits, and any applicable deductibles. Make sure the insurer is adhering to the terms and conditions outlined in your policy.
- Document the Details: Collect all relevant documentation related to your claim, including photos, receipts, medical records, or any other evidence that supports your claim. Having a well-documented case can be essential.
- Request an Explanation: Contact your insurance company to request a detailed explanation of how they arrived at the settlement amount. They should be able to provide you with a breakdown of the calculations.
- Seek a Second Opinion or Negotiate: If you’re not satisfied, consider getting a second opinion or negotiating with your insurer for a better offer.
- Alternative Dispute Resolution: If you’re unable to resolve the issue directly with your insurer, consider alternative dispute resolution methods such as referring the matter to the Ombudsman for Short Term Insurance (OSTI), or seek legal advice.
- File a Complaint: You can file a complaint with your state’s insurance department or regulatory agency if a resolution with your insurer is not reached. They can investigate the matter and help mediate a solution.
- Consider Mediation or Arbitration: Some insurance policies include provisions for mediation or arbitration to resolve disputes. These processes can help both parties come to a fair resolution without going to court.
- Maintain Records: Keep thorough records of all communication with your insurer, including emails, letters, and phone call logs. This documentation can be invaluable if you need to escalate the matter.
- Consult a Second Opinion: If you remain unsatisfied with the insurer’s response, consult a second insurance company or professional to assess your claim independently.
- Know the Laws and Regulations: Familiarize yourself with your state’s insurance laws and regulations as they may provide additional protections and guidance for policyholders.
Conclusion: It’s essential to be patient and persistent when dealing with insurance claims. While it can be a complex and sometimes frustrating process, taking these steps will help you ensure that you receive a fair and just settlement for your claim.
In cases where you’re unsure whether your claim payout is just, it’s highly recommended to seek legal advice. A legal expert can help identify which stakeholder may have breached their duties, resulting in an under-settlement of your claim. Remember, your insurance is there to protect you, and you have the right to fair treatment in the claims process.