So, I have been in the property insurance claims business as an attorney for 16 years. During my time as a policyholder attorney advocate, I have helped thousands of claimants navigate the claims process that I have always described as a gauntlet.
During this time, I thought I could relate to the emotions that clients have battled and endured during the process. I now know that I was wrong, and I did not really fully and completely understand their pain, frustrations, and the full range of emotions they endured through the gauntlet of the claims process.
What opened my eyes to their feelings? Going through it myself. We just had a fire loss at my residence in December, right after two of my three boys’ birthdays, just before the holidays, and just a few weeks before my third son’s birthday too!
The questions of “why did this happen?”; “why to us?”; “why now?” run through your head because we’re human. But my wife and I have quickly come to a unified goal: That we need to look for the silver lining in all of this. We need to stay strong as a family during this time, and we need to show our young boys (10, 8, and 4 years old) that this type of loss will not take us to negative-town during the Holiday Season, and we can get through this with strength and happiness and use it as a learning experience for the boys to draw on for the rest of their lives.
What if this happened during the middle of the night? We can be thankful it was in the evening, and no one was home. What if the fire department didn’t get there so quickly? Miraculously the fire department got to our house within four minutes of a neighbor dialing 911!
The claims process is an emotional roller coaster, particularly after you see your home destroyed. And what further exacerbates the problem is when all your belongings are removed and handled by others—giving the feeling of invasion of any privacy you had in the comfort of your home. We all seem a little “lost” in our own way:
In the days after the fire especially, my wife and I found ourselves waking up at night in strange places, not knowing where we were or where our kids were. We had our kids waking up at all times of the night and wandering in the dark, wondering where they were and what was going on. This is what happens when your normal home environment is turned upside down and taken from you.
We found soot in places I did not think possible—even into closed drawers and doors and staining the items behind and in those places. In talking with Chip Merlin, it sounds like negative pressure variations affect and control this type of thing. This creates a sort of vacuum effect. So now I am even learning new things after this catastrophe! As with many things in life, you don’t know what you don’t know until you find out more about a topic, and in this case, experience first-hand an event like this.
Rebuild, recover, heal, and hope that, together, we can grow from this and put it behind us. Our initial feelings are to immediately take steps to get to our norm, but we have quickly learned first-hand that the claims process takes time and moves at a snail’s pace compared to what we ideally want.
I plan to update this blog post with further updates and some details of how our navigation through the claims process is going. Stay tuned.
What I know is that through this process we are learning the true meaning of the word Mercy.