Unable to Cash Check, Homeowner must Stall Repairs

blog-image_2015-07-09Water seepage bubbles up through the floor boards from a broken pipe

My own home is a case in point for lessons learned on how not to settle a claim. Settlements ought to run smoothly. Claimants should not be inconvenienced with long wait times and step-by-step processes before receiving their funds. Insurers have been down this road a million times. If customer experience were so important, then why are homeowners left feeling alienated by the payment process, especially as it relates to third parties?

Case in point…

The first leak came in through the back slider door. Water stains formed on the ceiling. Where the house foundation meets the outside deck, water forced its way through, breaking a baseboard heating pipe along the way. Invisible to the eye, damage was detected by the ears. Upon walking into the room, you could hear water bubbling up from in-between the floor boards. Soaking up all that water, the boards soon warped. Time to call my insurance agent.

United Property & Casualty (UPC) of St. Petersburg, FL is new to the North Shore area of Boston where towns sit ocean side. While these areas are not flood-zone classified, basements do flood and the ocean does have a way of toppling over breaker walls on occasion. Hurricane Sandy and her brothers and sisters haven’t traveled to this region of the country. Yet. But the Floridian insurer was not afraid to underwrite polices that very generously offered $500 deductibles on storm-related exterior damages. More than 100% lower deductibles than other local insurers.

An independent adjuster team drove a small pickup truck 1,000 miles from Illinois to service our minor water claim. The team was thorough, climbing into the attic via a trap door. With a moisture sensor, they picked up invisible damage done to a wall behind a set of built-in bookcases. They examined the floorboards and the broken heater pipe. They took many pictures. The senior and junior adjusters were unobtrusive and professional. (BTW, Enservio loves claims pros. If you want to see how much they are appreciated, check out the “Making it Right” videos on YouTube.)

The Settlement

We were more than satisfied with a claim check of $7,997.53 that arrived in 2 weeks. We were ready to make repairs. Too bad we couldn’t cash the check.

Unfortunately, the insurer’s check needed three (3) co-signers! These included the two spouses and the lienholder (mortgage company) Branch Banking & Trust. Unfortunately, the closest BB&T branch is 400 miles away in Maryland. A phone call was placed to BB&T. “Don’t sign the back of the check,” they told us. “Mail it to us, we sign and stamp it, then mail it back to you.” How long would that take? “At least two weeks, maybe more.” [Note: it took 15 days.]

All told, one month passed from the time the adjuster set foot in the house to when the insurer’s check could be cashed.

A Simple Solution

The ReStore Card by Enservio, a pre-loaded debit card, can squeeze that time delay by 29 days. No need for trips to the post office for a Priority Mailer with tracking service. No need to worry of a lost check delaying the process even further. No need to worry if the claimant signs the check before the third-party signatory. Claims pros can carry hundreds in their purses, arrive at the home site, hand over the ReStore card and email the homeowners a note once funds are available. No need for that third-party co-signer. The third party is kept apprised.

A payments platform, the ReStore product allows insurers to put money in the hands of customers up to 3X faster, reducing processing costs by as much as 80 percent. Payments for auto, homeowners (structure, ALE, contents, CAT), B2B and mortgage are all offered within one secured integrated platform.

Quicker settlements lead to happier lives for everyone and is good for business. And even better for customer relations.

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