The National Association of Public Insurance Adjusters presented its Person of the Year Award to United Policyholder’s Executive Director, Amy Bach. The award was made at the annual meeting last week in San Antonio, Texas.

A small glimpse of Amy’s accomplishments and experience is noted on the United Policyholder’s webiste:

Amy Bach has been a professional advocate for insurance consumers (policyholders), since 1984 and an attorney since 1989. A native of Brooklyn, New York residing in San Francisco, she co- founded United Policyholders in 1991. She currently serves as the organization’s Executive Director and spokesperson; shaping and overseeing the Roadmap to Recovery™, Roadmap to Preparedness, and Advocacy and Action programs. She is a nationally recognized expert on insurance claim and legal matters; frequently interviewed in print and broadcast media, and the author of numerous publications including "The Disaster Recovery Handbook" and consumer tips and guides in the UP Claim Help Library.

Bach graduated cum laude from Cornell University in 1982 and received her Juris Doctor degree from Hastings College of the Law in 1989. Ms. Bach has performed government service with the New York and California State Legislatures, and the New York State Consumer Protection Board. She served as counsel to a special master overseeing reforms at the California Department of Insurance in the 1990s. Bach served on the Product Enhancement Advisory Board to the California Earthquake Authority in 2005—2007. Bach was appointed in January, 2008 by the California Insurance Commissioner to Chair a Consumer Advisory Task Force. Bach has been selected six times to serve as an official consumer representative at the National Association of Insurance Commissioners and is a member of the NAIC Consumer Participation Board of Trustees. Bach was honored as a 2012 Money Hero by Money Magazine and has received awards from the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of California, the Proposition 103 Implementation Project, and the Consumer Attorneys of California.

I have long noted Amy’s advocacy for policyholders on this blog in posts such as United Policyholders Continues its Good Work, Four Major Consumer Groups Call for Governor Crist to Veto Florida’s Anti-Consumer Legislation, Amy Bach and United Policyholders Supports Mississippi Insurance Protections, and Empowering the Insured – United Policyholders Website Provides Claims Handling Tips. Amy commented on a post, The Obligation of Good Faith Claims Handling and Policyholders’ Perceptions of Why it Does Not Happen, stating:

As usual, great point Chip. I helped write and pass a law in California that allows claimants to obtain claim related documents during the adjustment process. We tried to get a similar law passed in Louisiana after Katrina – and I’ve been thinking this would be a good concept to work on exporting nationwide. Here’s the wording of the CA. Insurance Code section on point:

‘The insurer shall notify every claimant that they may obtain, upon request, copies of claim-related documents. For purposes of this section, "claim-related documents" means all documents that relate to the evaluation of damages, including, but not limited to, repair and replacement estimates and bids, appraisals, scopes of loss, drawings, plans, reports, third-party findings on the amount of loss, covered damages, and cost of repairs, and all other valuation, measurement, and loss adjustment calculations of the amount of loss, covered damage, and cost of repairs. However, attorney work product and attorney-client privileged documents, and documents that indicate fraud by the insured or that contain medically privileged information, are excluded from the documents an insurer is required to provide pursuant to this section to a claimant. Within 15 calendar days after receiving a request from an insured for claim-related documents, the insurer shall provide the insured with copies of all claim-related documents, except those excluded by this section. Nothing in this section shall be construed to affect existing litigation discovery rights.’

This consumer protection law should be legislation in every state. It would promote honesty through transparency of the claims department. Amy Bach mentioned this last week when we co-presented "Approaches to Expediting Disaster Insurance Payments" at NAPIA. 

She certainly deserves the award, and I am lucky to have her as a colleague and friend. All of us are better because of her life’s work.