Sat, May 04 2013 12:00 PM Posted By: Tom Basinski
A few years before I retired from law enforcement my duties as a regular investigator for the district attorney included handling common crimes like robbery, homicide, auto theft, and whatever else came along.
Contemplating retirement, I knew I didn’t like to fish, and thought I might want to dabble in some kind of part-time work after I left. The DA’s office was expanding its Insurance Fraud Unit and this intrigued me. I had never worked fraud of any kind, but thought if I went to the unit I would make some good contacts in the insurance industry in the event I wanted to keep working after retirement.
The work was not what I expected. After one year I disliked the insurance companies nearly as much as the people who tried to defraud them. You see, the insurance companies often tried to take advantage of people and deny legitimate claims.
Something I didn’t know initially was that the insurance industry funded the DA’s unit with grant money. The insurance companies bonded together to pony up money to pay for our cars, our salaries, and our other equipment. Because they were paying our way, we had to sort of answer to them, something that shouldn’t happen in law enforcement.
For example, in the regular world of the DA, the police would bring a case to be considered for prosecution. The cops had to present a good case with all the questions answered and loose ends tied up. If the police didn’t have a case that was done correctly they got the case returned and were told to submit it with everything done correctly.
Not so with the insurance companies. The first case I received was handed to me in two large boxes. Nothing was in order. There were a bunch of files, reports, notes, and miscellaneous junk.
I called my supervisor over and asked what the hell was going on. I told him I was going to call the insurance guy and have him return to pick up the boxes. My supervisor hit the panic button. “Don’t do that,” he said. “They are paying our way.” The light came on and I realized who was driving the car. It wasn’t us.
I spent a week going over everything, cataloging and organizing documents in a time sequence in an effort to make sense out of the pile I had before me. At the end of one year I put in for a transfer, and in another year I received it. I am no fan of insurance companies.
The incessant advertising I see in the media from the insurance companies makes me mad. They pump gazillions of dollars into advertising that they could use to reduce the rates of their customers; that would be you and me.
On top of that, the insurance companies have the most annoying commercials. I’d like to put a sock in the mouth of that perky “Flo” woman who wears the white apron and pitches for Progressive Insurance. That stupid green Gecko reptile that is the symbol for GEICO is as annoying as they come. I do get a laugh from the bandaged “mayhem” guy from Allstate who keeps getting banged up by falling off roofs and down stairs.
Speaking of Allstate, I saw on one of the commercials about “accident forgiveness” that it will give you a break and actually send you a check if you haven’t had a claim in a while. I have made household claims twice for slab leaks and a minor vehicular claim once, both many years ago. Because I use Allstate I called my agent. She said, “Oh, that program isn’t valid in California.” Well, they run the commercials in California. To quote my father-in-law, “There oughta be a law...”
I just wish the insurance companies would ground their blimps, cancel their golf tournaments and football bowl games, cut their commercials by 90 percent, and give me a break on those premiums. There, I feel so much better.
Basinski was a Chula Vista police officer and DA investigator.
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