Getting the best results from your insurance claim requires you being informed about how to navigate that process confidently.
And so in this video, you’ll learn some key information about the insurance claim process and what to do if you’re being offered a cash settlement.
If you’re about to take a settlement from your insurance company because of the total loss or significant damage to your property, watch this first.
In this interview, I speak with David Keane from Solve My Claim.
David Keane has been in the insurance industry for over 24 years now, and he created Solve My Claim to help and assist homeowners navigate their insurance claims and disputes.
In the last three years alone, Solve My Claim has helped homeowners secure more than $35 million in additional insurance claim settlements.
So let’s dive in.
Amelia Lee + David Keane (Solve My Claim)
[Amelia Lee] So David, I’ve seen a lot of the reports, particularly from the Victoria 2009 fires. I’ve been researching a lot of what happened in the aftermath of that, and there was a lot of talk at that time about insurance companies kind of swooping in and really pushing people to accelerate themselves through that assessment process and then settling claims, handing out checks basically so that they could walk away.
And a lot of homeowners who had suffered huge amount of trauma and loss, and not really being in a state to make informed or strategic decisions about their future, then kind of stuck with whatever they’d been given and in a far worse position than they were before the whole thing started.
So how have you seen that potentially for some of the disasters that we’ve been experiencing lately?
And what’s your advice around that process of dealing with your insurance company in that kind of really traumatic state?
[David Keane] Sure. Yeah, look, there’s a lot of those cases and the 2009 fires, I think, were the Whye River fires that you’re referring to? Yeah, the Whye River fires were actually …they were highlighted in the Royal Commission actually.
I was down there with a couple of my cases and that was one of the big issues that the Commissioner took, particularly AAMI, to task about because in their case,it was one step worse.
They tried to get people to accept early settlements on a policy that didn’t even have a sum insured.
It had what they called ‘Complete Replacement Cover’, or CRC, and so in the way it had been advertised, it was no matter what it costs us, we’ll rebuild the house.
But what it worked out to be was okay, our builder says $300,000, we’re not actually going to rebuild the house, here’s $300,000, now go away.
And so people were significantly affected by those decisions. You have a different approach from different insurance companies. Some won’t go for those early settlements and they want to try and get everything right and the alternate problem is you end up 12 or 18 months down the track with no settlement.
But when you’re offered easy and quick money from an insurance company,I always advise people,don’t take the easy or quick money, particularly if it’s a settlement.
If it’s emergency funds, different story.
A good insurance company should have already offered people $5,000 or $10,000 or $15,000 of emergency funds to start replacing contents and just start the process of getting your life back.
And I’m not referring to that type of payment.
So after that, when you’re looking at settlements, if it’s an easy and quick settlement, and if you don’t have independent verification that that cost is both fair and reasonable, and complete, then don’t take it under any circumstance.
It can be easy to think, “Ah, $300,000, $400,000, yeah, that’s plenty of money, “I’m sure I can rebuild for that.”
But if you haven’t done the homework and you then find out that it’s $700,000 and you’ve accepted a settlement and more particularly, if you’ve signed a release, which many insurance companies ask you to sign, you may not be able to come back for anymore, even if you would have been entitled to it.
So I would always urge caution and one thing that I say in many of my conversations and posts is just because an insurance company tells you something, doesn’t make it right.
It doesn’t make it wrong either but it’s just the insurance company’s perspective.
And you are the homeowner, you are the one who has taken out the policy, you’re the customer and you are entitled to everything that you’ve been paying thousands of dollars for over many years.
Now, I don’t mean that in a mercenary sense, you don’t go after them for every possible cent and then some more, I’m not talking about that but what I am talking about is an insurance company is in this business for their own interests, not for yours.
And understand that very clearly. And there’s nothing wrong with that. That’s business. Most businesses are in business for a profit.
So understanding that then, if they offer you something quickly and easily, you’ve got to ask yourself is there something behind this?
Are they saving money themselves from otherwise what they would be up for if we went and got all of the assessments and the bushfire assessments and everything else that’s required, is this money too easy and too quick?
And so I would always say get independent verification of anything you were told, particularly when it comes to costs, scopes or repair process.
[Amelia Lee] That’s great advice.
I think that I know that when we went through The Gap storms and it was obviously a far less significant endeavour for us than it was for some people in that area, and also particularly, for the fires, but it was quite amazing how quickly the insurer kind of swooped in, figured out what was going to happen and then offered us this cheque which was just ridiculously small.
And we were fortunate that we had some clue about what it was going to cost to rectify the damage that had occurred to the house and then when you started to actually look at it in detail and see all the exclusions of what had not been considered or included in that settlement, all the red flags started going up. But yeah.
[David Keane] Absolutely, absolutely.
[Amelia Lee] I can just imagine for people who have lost everything, having the wherewithal to access the bandwidth to do that can be very challenging.
[David Keane] Yeah.
Oh, absolutely and this is something that insurance companies’ staff can sometimes forget because they do this every day.
Your claim is one of probably 300 sitting on that claims officer’s desk. And so this is second nature to them. The whole claim process, they know what to expect, all of those ramifications. But they forget that you don’t.
And this is probably the only time in your life that you’ve been through this. Most people are incredibly traumatised, incredibly stressed and with a distinct lack of knowledge in this very specialised area of insurance and rebuilding.
And that’s not in any way denigrating the consumer, the consumer doesn’t need to have that knowledge because they pay for experts to give them that expertise.
But within that knowledge vacuum in some cases, insurance companies can sometimes forget to consider the needs of the clients, or consider the fact that the client may even say or do things that technically might be wrong or technically might be incorrect because they’re undergoing such a stressful situation.
And they can sometimes be judged for that. Oh, you told us this three months ago, now you’re saying this, what do you mean? You’re lying, it’s insurance fraud.
I’ve seen it all. And I spent 20-odd years on the insurance company side of the fence. So I managed claims in insurance companies for 11 years. I’ve been an assessor for 13 years.
So I understand it from both sides and the reason I started Solve My Claim was because I saw so many people caught in a trap that was beyond them.
They had all this expertise in essence acting against them, acting for the insurance company and they really didn’t know where to turn.
[Amelia Lee] And that’s the thing.
You’re ultimately just wanting to get what you’ve paid for and trusted that you would be entitled to after all these years of paying premiums.
So yeah and you’re right, the insurers on the other side protecting their shareholders and their profit margins.
This interview is part of our Rebuild + Build Better series.
Be sure to stay tuned as we share more information and expertise in helping you rebuild after bushfires, or build homes more resilient to climate conditions and in bushfire prone areas.
Resources mentioned in this video:
Get in touch with David Keane, Solve My Claim, here >>> https://solvemyclaim.com.au/
Or check them out on Facebook here >>> https://www.facebook.com/solvemyclaim