Ground Control to Major Tom

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By Matthew Vanderford, Claimology

Matthew VanderfordImagine you were given a task. Imagine this task is to travel across space to find a new home for your family, because the home you have is being threatened with extinction. Now imagine climbing into the rocket ship, blasting off and punching your way into the outer atmosphere and accelerating even more as you travel deep into space. Your thoughts whirl in your mind. What’s going to happen? How long will it take? Will I survive the journey? Will my family be okay?

As you look around, you discover a navigation system. Great – your car back home has one – this should be easy! You say to yourself, “I’ll just ask the navigation to take me to the nearest habitable planet.”

“Though I’m past 100,000 miles.
I’m feeling very still.
And I think my spaceship knows which way to go.
Tell my wife I love her very much, she knows”

As you proceed to tell the ship to find the planet to save your family, it makes a U-turn and heads back to Earth! “Wait!”– you cry out – “STOP!” With that, the ship reverses thrusters and stops. Now you’re floating in space, looking back at where you just left and totally unsure of what to do next!

And that’s kind of what happens to people when claims are filed without really understanding the insurance claim settlement process. How do insurance companies view loss? How do they teach their staff to resolve potential conflicts? The individuals who handle the claims for the carriers play a major role in the claim negotiation process. So, many factors are involved, which makes every claim different, and every outcome different too.

Win-win, win-lose, lose-win, and lose-lose are methods taught to claim representatives on how to effectively negotiate a claim. These scenarios are centered around one thing—conflict resolution. Conflict is a normal part of life; we get conflicted with our own emotions, our own thoughts, what we perceive others are thinking of us and how others react to our actions. However, conflict does not mean disaster. If we use conflict as a way to better understand another perspective or viewpoint, then conflict is valuable. But, if we miss the opportunity to learn from it, then we’ve wasted a valuable lesson.

After handling many claims, I have learned that most people think that when they file a claim, the carrier will “do what they’re supposed to do” – take them to the promised land and pay out their claim. But what ends up happening is that most people are disillusioned at the outcome. Because just like being shoved into a ship and asked to find a planet far off in the distance, most people jump right into the claim spaceship without any working knowledge on what to do, where to go, what questions to ask and most importantly, what they’re entitled to receive. I mean – why wouldn’t they – they bought a policy, paid premiums, had a damage, filed a claim and then expected “The Machine” to act in a way they thought it should, not how it was designed to operate. Filing claims don’t come with manuals for the insured – they aren’t provided by the carrier or handed out by agents. Policyholders are left to their own devices to navigate the course of successful insurance claim settlements. Imagine going on a journey that could affect your entire life and never looking at a map. Now imagine you have to file a claim for your car, boat, home or business. Would you know which way to go?

“Tell my wife I love her very much, she knows
Ground Control to Major Tom.
Your circuit’s dead, there’s something wrong.
Can you hear me, Major Tom?”
Space Oddity by David Bowie