TYLER, Texas — On Monday night I received a call that shook my world.
A late afternoon Memorial Day storm swept through this East Texas City of 98,000 producing funnel clouds and torrential downpours. After the storms had passed, the root structure of a massive Red Oak tree, a centerpiece in our backyard, gave way and this tree crashed into our home inflicting catastrophic damage.
No one was home. Most of our personal property was spared. But the house was severely wounded.
A good neighbor, County Judge Joel Baker, called me in Dallas to tell me what had happened. Shortly after arriving in Tyler at 11 that night, I called my insurance company, Kemper, and reported the loss. They immediately approved tree removal and emergency repeairs to seal the home to protect it from further damage. By 8:30 AM an adjuster, who had been busy managing a lot of claims all across the southwest, was in my home telling me not to worry, that Kemper would make this right. He quickly walked me through what would be done and told me I did not have to worry.
They called in ServePro, a leading disaster response company that began packing up our belongings. He expedited work on removing the tree and quickly approved payment for a roofing contractor to try and seal the house to protect it from severe storms building to the west. He was all about meeting our needs.
A Kemper representative called, they were working to find us temporary equivalent housing. They would provide furnishings. Another Kemper representative called to explain how our possessions would be secured. As I write this post, ServePro, which has been handling other storm emergencies throughout East Texas, are there moving out the remaining furnishings at 9 at night.
At no point in this process, at least not at this point, have I felt any pushback, no questions that would suggest that the insurance company was looking to save money on our claim. In fact, they have moved at warp speed to bring in an engineer so we could understand how much structural damage our home sustained.
They keep saying that they want to be sure our home is restored to its former condition.
As I sit in my Dallas residence tonight trying to process what has happened, I begin to think about this experience versus what happens to the families of a trauma victims throughout the US.
They have to fend for themselves. Some hospitals may have a list of nearby hotels or restaurants. In some cases they will provide cots or blankets for a family who must wait in the waiting room overnight. Some hospitals offer low cost lodging on site but most of the time that space is occupied by scheduled patients. The families of shock trauma patients are on their own.
OK, I get what healthcare coverage is all about — reimbursing the hospital for proving its costly services, but I, for one, believe we need to re-think what we are doing. We become the losers when we start looking for ways to limit coverage.
I think we need to re-engineer, or at least discuss, how we deliver care and how we provide family support. To find valuable insight, we need to look to the property casualty insurance companies like Kemper who routinely deal with catastrophic losses and are still solidly profitable.
I certainly don’t have all the answers, but my experience suggests that there is an opportunity to reimagine what we do.
What are your thoughts? Hint: a solution is not about cutting costs or simply vowing to treat family members better.
© 2020 John Gregory Self