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Insurance Matters

Bruce Sackrison's Insurance Matters: Keeping insurance providers honest

From the Bruce Sackrison's Insurance Matters series
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Bruce Sackrison

Bruce Sackrison is a Napa Valley Register columnist who will write about property and casualty insurance matters.

We purchase insurance policies to protect our investments, but sometimes those we think of as protectors don’t have our backs at all.

If you suspect that you are being exploited by your insurance provider, what should your reaction be?

Imagine finding yourself in this situation:

Let’s say you have a great aunt Agnes whom you stay in close contact with.

She is nearing her mid-80s and has always been a special part of your life; baking fresh cookies before each visit, making you hand-knit slippers every Christmas, and sending handwritten letters on your birthday.

You decide to drop in on one of your days off to check up on aunt Agnes, just to say hello and surprise her with some bakery-fresh scones. Sitting down to share the treat, you notice some paperwork on the kitchen table.

Aunt Agnes explains that she met a nice man at her low- impact exercise class. He got to talking to her, explaining that he could save her a bundle of money by switching her over to the insurance agency he worked for.

Aunt Agnes tells you how friendly and caring “Newt” was, and how she had gotten all of her homeowners and auto insurance changed over to his agency.

You, of course, pick up some of the paperwork to look things over. It didn’t take long to see there were policies written up that were totally unnecessary for a woman in her 80s.

Your aunt had been her sweet, trusting self, and had been completely duped.

Thankfully you had recently learned about the California Department of Insurance (DOI) and heard how it exists to protect the consumer.

You show aunt Agnes the concerns you have about Newt and his policies, and she readily agrees that she had been too gullible. Together, the two of you get on the DOI website and file a complaint against Newt.

Newt ended up being a crooked agent, preying on numerous elderly and naive customers.

His license was revoked, and aunt Agnes went back to her trusty insurance company who gladly set her up with the policies she needed.

The California Department of Insurance really is there to watch over you, the consumer.

They regulate price increases to protect you from being exploited. They require agents and brokers to be licensed so you have a less likely chance of meeting up with guys like Newt.

They allow you to bring your complaints to them as a way of keeping providers in line. In short, they make a great referee.

If you have any questions pertaining to this topic, or if you suspect a friend or loved one is being mistreated when it comes to insurance, I’d be happy to discuss your situation with you.

Give me a call, and we can chat about insurance.

Bruce Sackrison is an insurance property and casualty broker affiliated with Professional Insurance Associates. He is at 707-931-0186 or

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