Yesterday, Emmett Pierce of Insure.com reported on a topic that affects policyholders and public adjusters nationwide. In Vanishing Act: Your Home Insurance Coverage Is Disappearing, Amy Bach, the executive director United Policyholders, discussed the nationwide trend of insurance companies offering less and charging more. Steven Venook, the president of Florida’s Advocate Claims Services, provided a perspective of what is happening in the field when claims are adjusted and investigated. Venook explained how higher deductibles and policies rampant with exclusions are affecting claims in Florida.

There’s a disturbing nationwide trend of insurance companies chipping away at coverage for homeowners, says Amy Bach, executive director of the nonprofit United Policyholders consumer group. She says she’s disturbed by what she sees as policies becoming less adequate.

"We have been working on a number of fronts to try to reverse this tide, while alerting consumers so they have a chance to protect themselves," Bach says. "We have been going to regulators from all over the country and telling them it is getting very messy out there in the homeowners’ market. Instead of blanket protection, it is more like Swiss cheese and there really are a lot of holes."

"In much of the country, the basic home policy is just for fire and theft," Bach asserts. "For everything else you have to have extra coverage.”

Public claims adjuster Steven Venook in Florida points out that mold used to be covered under standard home insurance policies; now it’s listed as an exclusion.

Like many other adjusters and policyholder representatives, Venook formerly worked for insurers but left to help policyholders. He founded Advocate Claim Service, a statewide insurance public adjusting claim service with a focus on customer satisfaction, in 2002. Venook is a graduate of the University of Florida. He gained extensive knowledge and experience as an insurance adjuster working for an independent insurance adjusting company and as an in-field claims supervisor for a major insurance company. During this time, he handled hundreds of property damage claims for both first and third party clients.

When asked why Venook changed careers, he said, "As a company insider, I observed firsthand how some insurance companies put their own profit motives ahead of their policyholders. I was schooled on how to turn a blind eye to customer feelings, only protecting what was best for the company. My hands were often tied from doing what I thought was right for the customer. After feeling remorse for my past actions, I decided to make a difference by helping policyholders with their insurance claims. Now, I put my knowledge to use helping protect consumers by making sure claims are handled in a way that is fair."

Readers are likely to be familiar with Amy Bach, she was a featured speaker at the 12th Annual Wind Conference® last January when she addressed the expanding role of quasi-public insurance entities. Chip Merlin has also posted about United Policyholders and Amy Bach’s advocacy on the blog many times, including the posts Amy Bach and United Policyholders Supports Mississippi Insurance Protections and United Policyholders Continues its Good Work.

  • Daniel Friedman

    Everyone seems to forget that the first contact between the consumer and the insurance company is the Agent. When I started in this business, (1957), it was the agent’s responsibility for which he earns a commission (his living) to explain to the insured what is coverd and offer him available choices. It has been many years since I met an insured whose agent sat down with him and explained what he was buying.

    It seems that the agent has long ago become the carrier’s property. If not for Public Adjusters there would not be anyone to speak up for the insured. The carriers with tier big money, lobbyists and attorneys are fast advancing on us as well.

    When insurance started in America a group of underwriters met on Wall Street to form a pool covering the safe arrival of Ocean Cargo coming to the new world. The only payament issue was “did the ship make it here or not”

    The insurance companies advertise that they will cover everything in order to get the business and yet we are constrained by law against telling the insured that their carrier does not play fair.

    This is our business. It has been good to me. Ae we going to fight back to stay alive? Good luck everyone

    Daniel