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Learning the ins and outs of insurance

You might think you're a safe driver, but according to Peter W. Bartlett, author of Before the Accident, the chance that you will be involved in an accident within the next three years is one in six, and that you will file an insurance claim within the same period is one in nine.

Bartlett is an expert in the field of insurance and material damage. He was a repair shop owner and dealer shop manager, an insurance field adjuster, claims supervisor and more.

He said he has always loved working on cars and motorcycles. Auto mechanics was his best subject in high school.

"I didn't play football," said Bartlett. "I played automobiles."

His experiences in the insurance industry made him realize that the consumer often got the short end of the deal.

"The most abused people in America (insurance consumers) are the least informed," Bartlett said.

A few years ago he embarked upon a project to research and write an understandable and informative book for the consumer.

In it, he explains that the purchase and issuance of an insurance policy establishes a contract in which both sides have rights and responsibilities.

The insured has the responsibility of being totally honest with the insurer. For instance: listing teenage drivers, admitting that your car is used for work and not using another address to get a lower rate.

By issuing a policy, the insurer agrees to indemnify or restore "you to where you were before the loss . . . no better, no worse."

But Bartlett noted that some carriers might be guilty of fraud by using unqualified adjustors or by insisting on using after-market (not original manufacturer) parts that could void manufacturer warranties or be unsafe. There are other examples in the book.

Can you fight back?

Yes, but it's not easy.

A good place to start is by reading Bartlett's book and being prepared. The book was proofread by several attorneys prior to publication.

"I'm not against insurance companies," Bartlett said, though he is troubled by the lack of education and training on the part of their appraisers and adjustors.

He recently made those feelings known at legislative hearings in Tallahassee and when he attended a conference at the federal level in Washington, D.C.

Late last year, he was featured in a segment on Channel 10 news relating to auto repairs.

The spiral-bound, glove-box size book is compiled in a logical fashion, beginning with "The Basics of Automobile Insurance" and follows the entire claims process, including losses and remedies in cases where total indemnification may not have occurred.

It answers many commonly asked questions and offers loss-prevention suggestions.

Bartlett recommends being prepared in the event of an accident. Some proposals are common sense, such as, "Always carry your insurance card on your person." Others are unexpected _ "Carry a loaded camera in your car."

Printed in large text and easily understood language, it offers a glossary of terms with which every driver should become familiar.

"I feel like a preacher who has a calling," Bartlett said. And the words he preaches will enlighten those who listen.

For more information about purchasing the book contact Bartlett at 637-0880, or you can reach him on the Internet at