Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Remember my October 17, 2005 post?  An individual I knew was in a car accident.  She was not at fault.  The other driver’s insurance company refused to reimburse her for her out of pocket expenses in relation to a rental car until I wrote letters to the company on her behalf.  The insurance company paid in October and I posted the letters I had written and a thank you to the company for paying the amount she was owed.

I just received a copy of a letter written to her by her insurance company.  Here are portions of that letter.  

“November 9, 2005”

“Date of Loss: June 14, 2005”    

“Your claim has been referred to >>>>> >>>>>> Subrogation Services.  We will attempt to promptly recover payments made by >>>>> >>>> from the parties or parties responsible for your loss.  The time needed for recovery varies with each claim, and could take up to one year or longer.” (The underlining is my addition.)

“As a courtesy to you, there is an additional service we offer:

If you incurred additional expenses which were not covered   under your policy, at your request, we will forward them for you to the responsible party or their insurance carrier.  However, please be advised that >>>>> >>>> has no legal interest in the expenses not covered under your policy.  If these expenses are disputed or denied by the other insurance carrier or responsible party, >>>>> >>>> cannot pursue them.”

This is in reference, of course, to the rental car expenses that she has already received payment for from the other insurance company.  Note the following, the accident occurred in the middle of June and this letter was dated on November 9th.  This was one relatively minor accident and yet the letter warns that it may take a year or longer before any money owed might be collected.  Even with the help of her insurance company, there is no guarantee that she will receive her out of pocket expenses.

My point is this.  Everyone who knows anything about bureaucracies including governors, mayors, reporters, and Congressmen knows or should know that bureaucracies, be they private or public, run slowly.  Anyone who has tried to deal with either a private or public bureaucracy knows they run slow.  They run slow for a variety of reasons.  Three of these reasons include set procedures that in the case of public bureaucracies are established by law, limited personnel and resources that can not possibly handle an extraordinary event immediately, and by the very nature of bureaucracies they are not risk takers.

The obvious conclusion is that anyone who actually believed that FEMA or any other bureaucracy could realistically, magically rush forward and save the day is delusional.  The vast majority of those public officials and private individuals who criticized FEMA did so for political reasons or because of their own personal agenda.  The others just didn’t know any better.  I can almost guarantee that for the most part none of them could have done any better.  It’s a lot easier to criticize someone than to actually perform the way you are demanding others perform.  The best laid plans often go astray and no one, no administration be they Republican or Democrat, had plans to react under the circumstances that FEMA faced.  Irrational criticism at the time served no useful purpose and was done primarily for political reasons.        

Could things have been done better?  Probably.  However, this is not a perfect world and we are not perfect people.  This was a crisis situation.  The best hitters in baseball fail more often than they succeed and yet they are paid millions of dollars a year.  Try to be realistic and learn from the mistakes so that they won’t happen again.  (At least not as likely to happen again.)  However, it is unrealistic to expect any bureaucracy to be a “knight in shining armor” in an imperfect world.  


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11:48 PM  

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