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Insurance Companies Also Can Be Guilty of Fraud, Policyholder Says

October 04, 1987

With reference to your article headlined "State Urged to Crack Down on Insurance Fraud" (Sept. 15): I believe that insurance companies are also guilty of fraud. I would like to tell you how we were treated when we had a claim with our homeowners policy.

Our home was burglarized in February; it was our first robbery. We have homeowners insurance, provided by the same company for more than 30 years. We notified the local police, our insurance agent and filled out the necessary reports and forms.

Within a short time we were visited by the insurance company's adjuster--an uncouth, rude individual who came to our home. Instead of sympathy or at least understanding, he treated us like we were the criminals. After he read our policy, he entertained us with a monologue of the many attempted rip-offs that the insurance companies suffered from people who put in fraudulent claims. He insulted us by referring to our stolen articles as garbage. He tried to manipulate our thinking that our lost property was worthless. He left us with a depressed, helpless feeling.

A few weeks later the adjuster arranged a meeting with us in his office where we were told that our coverage was not a replacement cost policy and that the decision he had reached was a generous settlement. The amount was $900 short, according to my figures. Eager for us to sign a release, he said we were "crazy" if we didn't, and he coerced us into accepting the check that he had prepared.

When we returned home, we called our agent. His office secretary confirmed that we did indeed have a replacement cost policy. We asked to have our agent intercede for us but he failed to even give us a call back.

We complained in writing to the company vice president. He supervised the issuing of another check, but it was still $400 short. After numerous phone calls, we finally gave up the struggle.

The article in The Times suggested that the public is robbing the insurance companies. Perhaps something could be written about how the insurance companies deceive their policyholders and under-reimburse them.

GEORGINA E. SOWARDS

Whittier

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