Why Billing Matters

Oct 21st, 2012 | Posted by

I have a homeowners policy with the DoNotDisclose Insurance Company. DoNotDisclose is a large, primarily personal lines company.

 

My policy term ends on Oct 8 every year.  This past August, I received the dec page and invoice for the new year, and paid it in full online.  I mean, I thought I paid it in full. Today I discovered that whatever I did, did not result in a payment being made.

 

I’ve been away from home for a few days. Opening my mail today (October 21) I had a letter from DoNotDisclose telling me that my homeowners policy expired on October 8 due to non-payment of premium.  The letter was post-marked October 16.  Between my initial invoice in August and my Expiration Notice, I had received the following communications from DoNotDisclose: zilch, nada, and rien,

 

Looking at the letter telling me my largest single investment had been uninsured for the past two weeks literally made me queasy.

 

Does anyone know a good personal lines company that understands the relationship among billing technology, billing processes, communication, and customer experience?

  1. James
    Oct 23rd, 2012 at 03:43
    Reply | Quote | #1

    Should DoNotDisclose continue to spend money contacting a policyholder? If this is your single largest investment, then is it not realistic to expect the majority of people would be more thoughtful? Can we assume you have no mortgage which isn’t the scenario of the majority of Americans?

  2. Donald Light
    Nov 8th, 2012 at 14:10
    Reply | Quote | #2

    Thanks for the comment.

    DoNotDisclose needs to balance the cost of one or two (“last chance to pay”) emails or snail-mails against the cost of seriously upsetting its customers with an after-the-fact cancellation notice.

  3. Scott Plapp
    Nov 13th, 2012 at 16:36
    Reply | Quote | #3

    I don’t think I’ve ever worked with an insurer that doesn’t send, by USPS, at least one late/warning notice before processing a cancellation. Of course, mailing the notice is no guarantee that it will be delivered (the USPS isn’t 100% reliable) or that the recipient opens the envelope. In a related matter, I don’t know of any insurer with a comprehensible direct bill system.

    • Donald Light
      Nov 14th, 2012 at 05:02
      Reply | Quote | #4

      Scott,

      Good observation, but DoNotDisclose breaks that mold — I get a lot of mail, but I try real hard to open letters from my insurer(s)–and per my original post, no communication from original bill to notice of lapse.

  4. Josh Heebner
    Nov 13th, 2012 at 16:42
    Reply | Quote | #5

    Donald – you have some good insights. Unfortunately, the insurance business has gotten so litigious that all an insurance company does is think of ways to protect itself, and, believe it or not, this is through less communication, not more.

    A great example of this is from a broker’s perspective, of which I am one. Let’s say that I’m your broker and I notice that you haven’t paid your premium. I call you, and you don’t respond. I call you a second time, you don’t respond. I call you a third time, and, you guessed it, you don’t respond. Your policy lapses.

    2 days later Hurricane Sandy hits and a tree falls right into your house. You call me to file a claim, at which time I tell you that you have no coverage. There is established legal precedence that would give protection to you because I showed a trend of calling you and I should have kept calling you until you responded. And, the coverage would be paid through my errors & omissions coverage (more popularly known as malpractice), not through the standard writer. In this instance, I, as the broker, would have been better off not calling you and instead letting the policy lapse, letting the burden fall to you. It works much the same way with an insurance carrier.

    Bottom line is, the insurance company should be more adept at accepting payments. They don’t perform a labor intensive service (issue a policy, process claims), so the least they could do is get it right. I’d recommend going with an independent agent rather than a direct writer so that the broker can intercede on your behalf, and it’s a personal face that will accept payments.

    Cheers.

    • Donald Light
      Nov 14th, 2012 at 05:09
      Reply | Quote | #6

      Josh,

      Ah, the joys of a litigious society.

      I’m guessing that my carrier, DoNotDisclose, was not thinking so much about legal exposures, as just plain not thinking (about how a policyholder thinks when there are no additional attempt to receive a premium payment).

      Good guess that DoNotDisclose is a direct writer. Yes I’ll look at agency companies as a replacement.