AT YOUR OWN RISK
Your Insurance "BILL OF RIGHTS"
by Peter Schlactus, CIC, AAI [ Back To Table Of Contents ]
BUSINESSES RUN AS MANY RISKS AS THE TYPICAL MESSENGER/COURIER.
industries pay out more of their
revenues to protect themselves than yours. Few owners and managers experience so much frustration trying to make sure that
their businesses are properly and affordably protected.
Courier owners and
managers can benefit enormously by better understanding their options for coping
with business risks. Gaining
this understanding generally requires professional, specialized insurance advice.
So how can you make sure you get the advice and service you need?
Luckily, one document
contains both the standards and the precautions you need to know. The Insurance
Consumer's Bill of Rights
and Responsibilities is a concise guide to responsible insurance practices developed jointly by The Consumer Insurance Interest
Group and the National Association of Professional Insurance Agents.
When considering insurance
and other risk management options, make sure that your advisors honor your
"rights". As for the Bill's
consumer "responsibilities," treat them as a checklist. By adopting these basic practices you will avoid many of the most common
problems associated with coverage and protect your insurance dollars.
THE BILL OF RIGHTS
1. The Right to Protection
"The right to
purchase insurance that meets your needs regardless of where you live or work,
priced fairly according to your specific
risks, without regard to race, color, or creed."
2. The Right to Be Informed
"The right to have
your policy printed in clear, easily readable type and written in understandable
language; the right to have policy
provisions explained to you accurately before purchase; the right to be told in advance, when possible, when the price or term of
your policy is to change, and why."
3. The Right to Choose
"The right to be
offered available options for protection; the right to enough time to adequately
consider your purchase; and the
right to make an informed choice about the coverage that best meets your needs for quality protection, fair value, price, and personal
service; the right to a competitive marketplace where several insurance companies compete for your business."
4. The Right to Be Heard
"The right to have a
voice in major decisions that affect you, whether made by insurance companies,
insurance agents, or insurance
regulators; the right to prompt and constructive replies; the right to be informed about and participate in consumer organizations
that are involved in insurance issues."
5. The Right to Redress
"The right to prompt
settlement of claims; the ability to have access to third parties for mediation
and to have access to a responsive
state insurance department for further redress."
6. The Right to Service
"The right to be
treated with dignity, honesty, and fairness; the right to receive prompt and
fair attention to claims, policy changes,
and inquiries; the right to be served by an insurance professional who strives to provide you with the best insurance value."
BILL OF RESPONSIBILITIES
1. Be Informed
to understand the concept of insurance, to read each insurance policy and
attempt to understand its terms and,
when lacking understanding, the responsibility to seek answers from an insurance professional."
2. Help Control Losses
of minimizing risk through safe driving, loss prevention programs, vehicle and
building maintenance, and caring
for your health (and the health of your workers)."
3. Report Accurate Information
"The responsibility to file insurance applications and report claims accurately and in a timely manner."
4. Keep Updated and Accurate Records
to maintain, in writing, the name, address, and telephone number of your
insurance agent and your insurance
companies, and all policy numbers and vehicle make, model, and identification numbers; the responsibility to maintain an updated
inventory of [business property]."
5. Comply with Policy Provisions
to comply with the specific conditions outlined in your policy, including paying
premiums on time, cooperating
with insurance companies when they defend your claims, and reporting changes that may affect your coverage."
6. Report Fraudulent Practices
to report to law enforcement authorities any questionable practices by insurers,
agents, consumers, auto body
shops, doctors, lawyers, or any other parties seeking to defraud or circumvent the insurance system or consumers."
At Your Own Risk
The Insurance Consumer's
Bill of Rights and Responsibilities has value for any business person, yet it is
especially useful for couriers
because of the relatively high degree of risk involved in an express delivery operation. You can ignore its principles but only at your
Still, to many it seems
only logical to leave insurance matters to the insurance "expert". My
courier clients typically report having to
wear many hats and expend a large amount of effort just fighting fires. Who has time to sit hunched over a desk trying to analyze
Remember that the goal is simply to gain enough understanding of your insurance to:
Discuss options intelligently with advisors and customers.
The Bill of Rights,
like any guide, makes it easier to reach your goal. Use it to plan, to evaluate,
and to communicate. For example,
consider sharing it with your advisor and make sure he or she agrees with its principles.
As you increase your own
understanding, remember that your agent or broker can be your best ally. As we
have seen, a true insurance
professional will readily agree to spend a modest amount of time necessary to help you understand your choices. After all, it's your "right"
to know and your "responsibility" to find out.
Peter Schlactus, a Certified Insurance Counselor and Accredited Advisor in Insurance, is Co-President of KBS International Corp., which provides specialized insurance programs, benefits, and risk management services to courier companies and executives nationwide. Mr. Schlactus is available to answer inquiries at 1-888-KBS-4321 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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(c) copyright, 1999 by KBS International Corp. All Rights Reserved.