Homeowners are not happy with People’s Trust Insurance Company, but its advertising hasn’t stopped in the Tampa area. While many new policies in Broward, West Palm, and Miami were dropped just after policyholders locked in, others with this insurance company are sounding off about their bad claim experiences.

People’s Trust has beefed up its legal staff too. For claims litigation, two attorneys were neck deep in all of the claims for quite a while, but now additional defense lawyers have joined the in-house staff. For the cases that really seem to heat up in court, People’s Trust will hire outside counsel but only in the final chapter. This legal team arrangement saves money and seems to align with People’s Trust’s methodology of working in-house. Instead of issuing insurance payments, People’s Trust sends its wholly owned construction company, The Rapid Response Team, to “fix” the problems. While the company now uses some agencies, inside sales persons also sell the insurance.

The marketing attempts by People’s Trust had been a flood of ads with puppy dogs and birthday cake, but a new mailer came recently that promises policyholders a discount on your premium, no hassle claim service, expert repairs and restoration with 100% satisfaction, and even boasts you could save hundreds on rates. The theme is Everybody Wins… but do they? Or is the new CEO really the winner?

People’s Trust business plan is to not send the insured a check on claims; they want to use their construction company to fix the house. The main concern raised by policyholders is whether the repairs will bring the house back to the original condition or is it a band-aid.

One insured who called Merlin Law Group said that when his water pipe broke, neither People’s Trust nor Rapid Response Team sent a plumber to the house. People’s Trust also did not authorize the insured to get a plumber to the house for 14 days. During that time the family lived in a home without running water. They used the showers and restroom at the next-door neighbor’s house and brought in water for cooking and drinking. If there is a hurricane, this will not be an isolated incident and chaos would ensue. Now that the insured hired a plumber, People’s Trust is questioning the bill amount.

Another common complaint with the company is the lack of documentation that The Rapid Response Team is providing. Remember this company is supposed to fix the property and return it to pre-loss condition, but some policyholders can’t even get a scope of work or a plan of repair from the contractors.

How is a homeowner to know what is supposed to be getting fixed and verify that the method is correct?

Having trucks on the ground coming to properties with damage is very different from having a qualified, licensed professional explain and handle the repair process to you. I encourage all policyholders with questions to ask for the credentials of anyone coming in to work on their house. Business cards and verification of licensure are a must. You didn’t pay for insurance to have a handyman do a patch job – make sure the crew is qualified. Pay particular attention to specialized skilled labor, such as HVAC, plumbing, and electrical work.

Insureds should also make sure a licensed insurance adjuster is involved on the claim. Although this sounds basic, it has been a problem in the past. People’s Trust is required to have licensed adjusters handling the insurance claims and not just representatives of the repair company meeting with you. Having a Facetime or Skype conversation with the licensed adjuster is not enough! Make sure the adjuster meets you at the loss and answers your questions unequivocally.

Further, be sure to get a complete, certified copy of your own insurance policy. The policy is the contract that dictates how the claim should be handled. Be sure to compare the policy you received at the onset of the insurance with the policy PTIC forwards to you. Watch for form changes and require that the representatives show you the exact provision in your policy being relying upon.

Since People’s Trust built their business model on “repairing the homes,” proceed with extreme caution on any claims that are not repairable or that can’t be fixed with a hammer and a nail. Theft losses, fire losses, and personal property losses will be handled much differently than a claim that PTIC thinks it can fix with the Rapid Response Team. Be prepared to have to press forward to get payment dollars on these claims. As always, document every contact, and write a summary of the conversation and the date. Email the company with your recitation of the facts and promises. You can do this in a civil way, but you need to make sure this company knows you are an informed consumer.

If you have any questions about your claim with People’s Trust or another property insurance company, contact us directly.

For other blogs on People’s Trust, see below: