A trend seems to be taking place with church insurance companies that is very similar to what is going on with common homeowners and commercial insurance companies. Just do a web search for "A.M. Best Downgrades Insurance Ratings" and you will notice company after company, including church insurance companies, whose rating have been downgraded. Is this because the storms in the past five years have been worse than ever before? I don't think so.... We have always had devastating hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, hail storms, and wind storms. So why are insurance companies ratings going down?
Everyone knows that the property insurance industry is in a downward spiral and has been for many years when it comes to indemnifying (protecting against loss) their policyholders. Customer Service is preached from the rooftops on websites and in publications from the insurance companies, but do they actually practice what they preach?
"Like a good neighbor"
"You're in good hands"
"On your side"
The obvious and expected answer to this question should be NO! Unfortunately, the answer isn't so clear or obvious.
So now we understand why some insurance companies underpay or deny claims, but what about the church insurance companies, they are suppose to be different....Right? Not Really. In reality a church insurance company is no different than a common commercial insurance company, the only difference is they specialize in insuring a specific group of business. Some insurance companies have religious names or slogans, but is this any more than just a gimmick?.....Probably Not! At the end of the day all insurance companies, even church insurance companies, are in the business to make a profit.
These are all slogans that I call gimmicks, they are not actually claims practices or standards that are upheld. Just because a church insurance company has a religious name, doesn't mean that they practice what they preach.
It's natural for Christians to want to believe the best in people, and while I wholeheartedly believe this, remember the insurance company is not a person, it's not a ministry, and it's not a charity. Insurance companies (even church insurance companies) are businesses, and they are in business to make a profit. As nice as your agent is, and as nice and friendly as the adjuster may be, remember they are part of the industry and if that industry is determined to make a profit at any cost, then they have very little influence in the outcome of your claim.
I believe that church insurance companies realize that most churches do not want to go hastily into court. As Christians, we are to love and forgive our brother. Are the insurance companies taking this biblical teaching and abusing it for their own profit? I personally believe that church insurance companies realize that their customers are less likely to invoke litigation on claims when they are being treated unfairly and, because of this, they have become reckless. In the past, most insurance companies tried to find ways to provide coverage; today, it is just easier to deny coverage. Is it because the policy coverage is different, or because they are betting on the fact that no one is going to call them out when they have missed the mark. A lot of insurance companies get by with doing subpar investigations of property claims because the customer believes what they are being told by their insurance company.
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In the past structural engineers were only called into a claim, by the insurance carrier, when a customer had received severe structural damage from things like earthquakes, tornadoes, or hurricanes. Most of the time the engineer was asked to determine if the structure was repairable or if it had received enough structural damage to be considered a total loss. Today, structural engineers are accompanying adjusters on all types of claims, including simple water losses due to pipes freezing as well as wind and hail claims to view roof damage. Some independent firms call engineers out on all their losses, no matter what the cause of loss is. I wonder if they call engineers because their adjusters are simply not adequately trained to do a thorough inspection or is it for some other reason? Could it be that they are using these engineers because they have more of a subjective opinion towards what covered damage is? Could it be that they hire engineers because using them reduces their overall payout on claims? As a customer, good luck calling the engineer that your insurance company hired and asking questions about your claim. Maybe this is one more way to pass the buck to someone who doesn't have to answer your call?
So are church insurance companies really taking advantage of their church customers? I will let this question be answered by each church individually; however, when an insurance company is allowed to mistreat their customers and are never held accountable for their actions, do they really have an incentive to stop?
Below you will find examples of why this trend appears to be growing.
I believe it is a combination of a few things. First off insurance companies are now heavily relying on consulting groups and engineering firms to guide their claims practices. Some consulting groups teach insurance companies how to put their bottom line profits above all else, including their customers. This systemic approach includes delaying higher value claims, denying valid claims, and spending large amounts of (their policyholders) money on attorneys to defend their actions. This practice is known as "The Three Ds: Delay, Deny, Defend."