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The following letter pertaining to disaster (hurricane, earthquake, tornado, flood, fire, etc.) has been sent to US President Obama...complete, unedited copies may be made. As a matter of transparency on the record of protecting insurance consumers, the President's response is posted on the White House Website for review. The public now has a better window into the matter of insurance consumer protection.
Antone P. Braga
February 2, 2009
The Honorable Barack H. Obama
President of The United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President:
Compared to matters now before you, the issue I raise may seem ordinary on the surface. However, it goes to the heart of confidence in government and there is no greater issue at hand. The very government entities sworn to protect the public contend they are "not allowed" to provide certain basic consumer protection for policyholders. I am enclosing copies of my letters to USA entities responsible for consumer protection, and a copy of my book, "Policy Ensurance." *
The millions of people who survive disasters each year such as hurricane, earthquake, tornado, flood, and fire, usually carry insurance, but they generally have no idea what they have coming, even after asking around. Just what should they expect, and how do they conceive their damage claims or partake in the process? Nearly everyone has been left out of the loop.
When it comes to disasters there is nothing more fundamental than the elements of recovery. Those elements that pertain to insurance are well hidden and took me a great many years of investigation to uncover. After more than 20 years of insurance adjusting I still had no idea they even existed! Policyholders have had plenty of authority within the insurance contract to enable a fair settlement. It is more a matter of knowing one's authority and how to implement it that escapes notice. That in itself is a rather large problem. However, there is an even larger problem: an ongoing process to negate policyholder authority by removing wording in some policies.
Along those same lines, many company adjusters act to represent the policyholder just as if they had that right and authority...it is commonly accepted behavior. Conflict of interest is hardly even thought of, never mind raised. The misinformed public actually expects company claims adjusters to act that way and are disappointed if somehow that does not happen. This is mostly due to rampant advertising that tells us we are in good hands, have a good neighbor, someone on our side, or some other such claim, and oddly enough the companies' misleading, very costly advertising is paid from policyholder premiums, not from companies' own coffers. It is no wonder we have become helpless and lost in this area. We are programed that way, and we have been defused from our authority without being aware that it happened.
If there is one thing I am sure of, it is that most insurance consumers have not had access to fundamental insurance claim rights and information, such as how to calculate, prepare and settle insurance claims (considerably different than merely reporting), not to mention insurance company timely obligations, responsibilities, and rules that tell us what we should expect in case of loss. Inasmuch as government entities are not allowed to protect insurance consumers and insurance companies are allowed to pay with policyholder premiums for the companies' advertised point of view, then surely companies can also be made to disseminate material with policyholders' point of view, as a matter of course.
It is important to have an idea how to determine what you are entitled to under your property insurance policies (home, business, auto, boat, etc.). Policyholders are entitled to have an understanding in terms of fundamental adjusting principles, rights, and rules that show what to expect in case of loss—the nuts and bolts of insurance consumer protection. There is no reasonable argument against the policyholder having equal information as the company. No one can very well argue that a policyholder in good standing is any less legitimate than the company itself.
This is about changing a system that is in desperate need of reform and not really a threat to that system, no more than the likes of H & R Block or taxpayers themselves are a threat to the US tax system. The veil only cloaks reality. It is my lifelong dream that one of these days it will be removed for good and vital claim filing information, policyholder rights, adjusting basics, forms and procedures made accessible as our tax filing rights, rules, deductions, forms and tax information we take for granted. I propose that a copy of my book, "Policy Ensurance," or a revised, authorized edition, accompany insurance policies issued in the future that cover damage caused by disasters—my copyrights are unencumbered. I hope you will assign my material for your staff to peruse and digest, and believe you will find it well researched and credible, and I hope worthy of facilitating change.
Thank you on behalf of all policyholders for any consideration you may give.
Antone P. Braga
It will afford no security from the new ideas, that the old nations, the laws of centuries, the property and institutions of a hundred cities, are built on other foundations. The demon of reform has a secret door into the heart of every lawmaker, of every inhabitant of every city." —RALPH WALDO EMERSON
What is your philosophy: drive or be driven? I happen to think we are wise to keep our drive alive.
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