Pet Peeve #19: Intimidation Tactics Of Insurance Companies

Insurance is an industry that can get under everyone’s skin. Who really gets a sense of “perceived value” as they mail in their outrageous checks for various forms of insurance? With heath costs rising so rapidly, it’s good that the money is extorted by means of payroll deduction – I don’t think I would have the heart to cut that check monthly. But whether it is car insurance, home insurance, . . . the intimidation card is always up their sleeve and ready to be slapped down.

What other product or service charges you outrageous rates and then tries to discourage you from obtaining any benefits? Yet that is precisely the strategy of the insurance companies. If your car is in a fender bender with someone you know, you are quick to settle independently of filing a claim – Who wants their rates to skyrocket even further? Our home suffered water damage a couple of times due to contractor error – we were sent a nasty letter from our home insurer threatening to discontinue our policy because we were now classified as “high risk.” The same with GEICO – after we had used our towing benefit several times in one year (we had 3 cars on the policy) – we were informed that we were abusing that provision and would be terminated if we continued to make claims – even though they were all legitimate. Their approach was to try to intimidate us into making the repair independently of calling for their service.

Insurance companies play the odds – knowing that in the majority of cases they win and just have to pay out in the other cases. Then they try to play the intimidation game in those cases to pressure people to absorb many losses themselves. That is the whole point of the “deductible” ploy – If I have to pay $500 anyway … well if the claim is going to be only $1,000 I might as well pay it myself rather than risk the wrath of my insurance company. Once expelled it might be more difficult to pick up coverage from some competitor – since they are all in this game together.

Life Insurance, I guess, is the one area where I do not need any intimidation to restrict my appetite for availing myself of the benefits.