Michael Moore’s Sicko is getting impressive reviews across the board. If you’re not familiar with it (or been living under a rock for the last month or so), the movie takes on the health-care industry in Moore’s typical scathing documentary approach by pointing out the failures of American health insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, and the politicians who have been paid millions to seemingly do their bidding.
Gets one to thinking what it would be like if Moore followed up with some type of expos? on the P&C insurance industry (Sicko Too?). He could go down to the Gulf Coast and talk to some of the thousands of people who thought they had full coverage (including wind and flood) only to find out after the fact that the carrier never fully explained their policy limitations. I can see it now; Moore flashes the roundabout “if-then” exclusions on screen that are so filled with legalese and circuitous language that policyholders would rather opt for a weekend stay at Abu Ghraib than attempt to decipher.
While he’s in the South, he could meander over to the Sunshine State and check in with the many who, in addition to their hurricane-damage woes, are in many cases also contending with opaque sinkhole coverage. As the camera shows a home swallowed by the ground, Moore might mutter a rhetorical question to the audience, “If homeowners’ insurance doesn’t pay for this, what does it pay for?”
Note that these are not claim issues, but coverage issues. Adjusters can do only so much in these catastrophe settlements. The sad part is that the carriers are seldom called to task after the fact. What good would it do then? After the dust settles and the water is gone, there’s the possibility of litigation, but that’s expensive and the larger carriers will fight tooth and nail in court. It all sounds like perfect fodder for Moore.
Given Moore’s valid comparisons to successful health-care systems operating in Canada, France, Great Britain, and Cuba, it would be interesting to see what he would uncover in the P&C arena if he compared the U.S. claim industry to other countries. Do other countries invite controversy and conflicts of interest by contracting to use insurance companies’ adjusters in times of catastrophes to determine whether storm damage is wind or flood-related, like the National Flood Insurance Program does? Would Moore uncover a better way?
The health-care industry is now on notice. Insureds are “mad as hell” and aren’t going to take it much longer. If the same attitude was fostered in the P&C market, what kind of changes would carriers have to make to avoid being cast in the same light? And would any of it alleviate the ulcer-ridden stomachs of adjusters?