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What To Know Before Calling Your Insurer: Be Your Own Best Advocate

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An insurance company may not be on your side, but that doesn't mean they're against you. However, Bruce Cran, the president of the Consumers' Association of Canada, calls the relationship "adversarial." As he notes, people making claims want everything they feel is coming, and not a penny less. Insurers want to pay out what they feel they must, and not a penny more.

Settling claims is about balancing interests and being fair, which can be open to interpretation. Read your policy carefully to understand your responsibilities and rights. Clarify what you're expected to do (for example, quantify a loss and get receipts) and what your insurer will do for you. Justify your requests. Yes, the insurance company has obligations, but ultimately you're your own best advocate.

"You're an active participant in the claims settlement process," says the Insurance Bureau of Canada's Olson. "It won't just happen around you."

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