It was a beautiful June morning in Sunnyvale, California. I was commuting to work by bicycle, like I often did. Suddenly, the car coming toward me hit the accelerator in order to make an abrupt left-hand turn in front of me. The drivers goal: make a left turn in front of me before I made it through the intersection. Neither of us made it through that intersection. My next stop was the Stanford University Hospital Intensive Care Unit (ICU). The following Sunday was Father’s Day. I didn’t see my three children that ranged from eight weeks to four years that year because infants and toddlers are not allowed into the ICU.
After the accident I had a singular focus, recovering. The physical recovery was a long one, involving years of physical therapy. The financial recovery was just as hard, because insurance companies wouldn’t pay nearly $100,000 in medical bills. That brings us back to the title, how does a Father’s Day in intensive care change a trillion dollar industry?
Looking Back on That Fateful Father’s Day
I was forced to pay the unpaid medical bills, or have my credit ruined. There was never any question that insurance companies (any one of the three involved) owed the money. I was fully insured with what I thought at the time was good insurance. The driver that hit me was 100% at fault. I suspect the driver of that car also thought they had good insurance. Unfortunately, neither of us had good insurance.
I had to pay the medical bills to preserve my good credit rating. From there, a long — and ugly — battle of recovering the money began. When I finally recovered the money, I vowed to apply my technology background and solve this problem so no other family would suffer the same problem.
Find out how good your car insurance company is. It’s free. While you’re at it, check your homeowners insurance company too. Just click the buttons below.
I Changed my Life so No Other Family Would Suffer What I Experienced
Solving the problem of no transparency in insurance meant changing my life. First, I dedicated myself to writing a book about my insurance experience. The book, Injured Money, was a full-time effort that was both cathartic and helped get my thoughts organized on how to approach the problem of insurance companies being able to delay and deny claims, at will.
It was while writing the book that the solution to this problem dawned on me: consumers needed a rating system that brings transparency to the insurance industry. The system needed to include the things consumers’ care about: price, protection (claims handling) and service.
Finally, Big Data Helping Consumers find the Best Insurance Companies
In concept, this was quite straightforward. The system would be a performance measure similar to how nearly every other industry is held accountable. At the outset of the grading system development, the company ValChoice was formed. The ValChoice mission was elegantly simple and remains so to this day. We use big data to help consumers of insurance know if they are getting the price, protection (claims handling) and service they pay for and deserve.
To meet the objective of informing every consumer dictates the service be free. So that’s what we did. Free ratings to deliver claims handling, service and value transparency. Free calculators to deliver price transparency. Even free lists of the best companies in each state. All this free information can be accessed by anyone via the internet.
Do you wonder if you’re getting a fair price on your auto insurance or home insurance? Click the buttons below to find out.
Consumers Have a Right to Know
Consumers deserve to have this information. By law and contract, people are required to spend nearly a trillion dollars per year on insurance. While the industry points to being highly regulated as a way of indicating consumers are well served, little useful information is available to help consumers make good choices about the insurance they buy. Instead there are talking animals, cute jingles and silly ads constantly bombarding consumers through the billion dollar advertising budgets of the large insurance companies.
There are many good insurance companies. Interestingly, most are companies consumers haven’t heard of. The reason for this is that the best companies don’t have big advertising budgets. They’re not advertising companies. They just focus on being great insurance companies. Find out who the best auto and home insurance companies are in your state by clicking the buttons below. We list the best companies, state-by-state.
What comes next?
That Father’s Day spent in intensive care is a long way behind me now. Thirteen years to be exact. Yet the mission I vowed to complete has only just begun. That time in my life is unforgettable. It takes a dramatic and traumatic event to cause a person with a family to risk what they have in order to solve a problem that many in the industry don’t want solved. Now I take pride every single time someone downloads a free report from ValChoice. Finally, that unknowing consumer has the power to make a better decision about how to protect themselves and their loved ones with insurance.
As you enjoy Father’s Day next Sunday, spend some time thinking about how you can find a way to pay forward your experiences to help others. Paying forward personal experiences that help others is one of the most rewarding actions any person can take. Yes, this is the best job I’ve ever had for the simple reason that the work accomplished has the potential to help hundreds of millions of people.
Have a Happy and Healthy Father’s Day.
Note: a similar post was first published in the Huffington Post by this author.