Communicating with your Insurance Company
Today’s video provides our tips for effectively communicating with your insurance company. No one enjoys communicating with their insurer for good reason because the whole system can seem uniquely designed to NOT provide good customer service. In our opinion, however, although we can rarely point to examples of outstanding customer service, communicating with your insurer has improved somewhat as long as you optimize the use of the tools many insurance companies and Medicare now make available.
Before we even get to our tips, please do the following if you have not:
- Create your online access to your insurance company portal.
- Become familiar with the information on the site. In particular, find information on your benefits and have a working knowledge of them. There is also often a Documents section of the site that will provide a more detailed Summary of Benefits or Evidence of Coverage document.
Now, on to our tips:
- Determine if the answer you seek is available online through the portal so that you don’t need to contact the insurance company.
- Use the chat feature or the messaging feature, if available. Know that if you have the ability to send an email to your Plan, you shouldn’t count on hearing back as quickly as obtaining information through the chat feature. Don’t rely on the chat feature off-hours as the customer services agents you are chatting with likely keep the same business hours as over-the-phone agents.
- If you have to call or choose to call your Plan, don’t call on Monday. Call early any other day of the week. Wait times are usually longer on Monday and in the afternoon.
- If your Plan offers a “call back” feature rather than requiring you to remain on hold, consider using that. There is nothing positive to say about remaining on hold and listening to messages repeat endlessly or elevator-type music.
- If you choose to languish on hold but the wait time seems excessive — or the phone menu doesn’t seem to offer appropriate alternatives, repeat “agent” or “representative” or press 0 (zero) which may take you to a person.
- For any significant communication, obtain a reference number from the representative and ask the name of the representative. The agent will likely only provide a first name and possibly first initial of the last name. Keep this information until whatever you are inquiring about is resolved.
- If the agent you reach doesn’t seem knowledgeable, either end the call and call back or escalate to a supervisor. Don’t waste your time with someone who doesn’t seem to understand the issue or problem as presented.
- If the matter you are contacting them about can have serious consequences if not handled correctly, put this information in writing and send to your insurer via U.S. mail with tracking or via fax with a transmission receipt. Make sure to keep a copy of all correspondence. Examples would include adding a baby to your Plan or informing the insurer of your last day of coverage through them.
- Finally, no matter how exasperated you are, be kind to the person on the phone. Although they are working in an environment that seems designed to frustrate, they have a tough job and most are sincerely trying to help. The problems insurance companies create are rarely the responsibility of the customer service representatives and, on the whole, those representatives are usually more responsive to those who treat them with courtesy.
It is easy to be frustrated dealing with your insurance company. You can be much more effective if you become a savvy consumer, so please review our advice.