(Note: This Guest Blog is by Frank Chimento, Director of Business Development and Client Services at Merlin Law Group).
I would feel confident making a wager that if Americans were polled on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the least, their level of understanding or interest in insurance matters would be somewhere around 2.5. At least it was for me, until one day at the Almeda Mall in Houston, Texas.
To put this in proper context, my roots are in the entertainment industry which I thought was as far away from insurance as the East is from the West. Little did I know that the stories I would hear and the characters I would meet would rival even the most gripping Grisham novel or a Steven King thriller. My opinion may also have a little to do with my perception that the insurance industry was filled with unexciting, low-energy people and was a rather boring subject. This isn’t a far-fetched conclusion for people like me who tend to view life like a golden retriever in a world full of tennis balls.
On December sixth and seventh, 2008, everything changed! Merlin Law Group held a “Meet ‘N Greet” event that was targeted toward the Hispanic community. As a company we were growing more and more annoyed with the rumors we were hearing regarding abusive treatment dished out by the insurance companies to a particular demographic. We decided to see first hand what was really going on. I can tell you with absolute conviction that the stories I heard from this fantastic community made me appreciate and become interested in insurance… almost immediately!
The massive impact that insurance has on individuals, communities, economies and world governments should not be underestimated. With companies like AIG dominating headlines, we have learned how far and wide insurance companies’ tentacles reach. And this is where insurance becomes exciting. I am drawn to the human-interest stories that are plentiful in this dramatic theatre of property and casualty loss. Stories like the 92 years young woman that has paid her homeowner’s insurance for more than 60 years and lost almost everything. She is now living in a one room dwelling and cooking on a hot plate. The non-English speaking family with a total value policy of $30K that lost their roof and received a check for $46.00. These stories move me!
I find it mind boggling how legislators and states are controlling organizations like Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA) and Citizens Property Insurance Corporation. It’s intriguing how some of these individuals manage political careers while the people who elected them sift through their rubble, hoping to salvage a photograph. It’s dramatic to meet with people that are hurting and hear the lip service offered by the very insurance company that excitedly sold them a promise and now goes to great lengths to avoid honoring that commitment.
I suggest that insurance isn’t a boring subject at all. When you peel back the layers, it is based on all the elements of great theatre- deceit, destruction, conflict, good guys, bad guys, winners and losers. I’m confident that policyholders will ultimately prevail and even more hopeful that the opinion leaders and politicians will recognize their responsibility toward their constituents and get engaged in the fight for people’s rights. I admire the public insurance adjusters and attorneys who play a recurring role.
Insurance is about people, promises and profits and frankly, I think that’s very interesting!
– Frank Chimento