Computer Repair, Insurance and Honesty

Last year, a controversial study suggested that computer repair shops scam people that have insurance.  If you mention you have insurance, on average, you’ll get charged more for the repair.  Guess what…so do we.  Our rationale is different though.

Computer on Fire

The computer repair shops in the study clearly took advantage of customers.  They billed for work and repairs there weren’t done.  That’s wrong.  The theory from the study was the shops weren’t hurting the customers because the customers weren’t paying, insurance was.  The big, bad insurance company was getting hurt.  The shops didn’t think this through though. Insurance scams raise rates and hurt everyone.

So why do we charge clients with insurance more on average?  It isn’t about scamming, but it’s about making a client whole.  The goal of insurance is to return everything to where it was, as if it didn’t happen.  That’s a very high standard.  We don’t want clients to live with a problem.

Since we do a ton of on-site computer repairs in Lawrence, Topeka and Kansas City, I’m in my car often.  Accidents are inevitable.  My car was completely totaled during one service call, but other times it’s just scratches and dents.  The insurance company writes me a check for the estimated damage. It’s my choice to repair it or not.

With clients we take the same approach, we don’t want clients to live with a problem.  Take, for example, a lightning strike.  That often damage the networking port inside the computer.  If the client is insured, we recommend replacing the internal system board.  That’s often worth more than the computer.  That’s what’s wrong though and insurance covers what’s wrong.

Computer on Fire 1

If for some reason the client doesn’t have insurance for this (or the deductible is too high), we suggest creating a wireless network.   Our goal isn’t to return the computer to pre-lightning condition; our goal is to get the client up and running.  Adding an external wireless adapter fixes the problem, but doesn’t fix the computer.

We take the same approach with data recovery.  If a client has a failed hard drive, we have software and procedures to recovery the data.  We don’t have the tools you see on TV shows like CSI or the movies.  We don’t have a special clean room with people in bunny suits.  That’s stuff professional companies like DriveSavers use.  They can completely rebuild a hard drive from scratch.

If a computer’s insured, we refer the client to DriveSavers and decline the recovery work.  Although we might be able to get the data back, DriveSavers has the best chance for success.  The goal is the return the computer to pre-damaged state, and DriveSavers will do a better job then we do.  Yes, we’re suggesting something that costs more because of insurance.  So be it!  I want the client’s problem resolved in the best way possible.

Without insurance, it’s a decision for the client to determine how much a repair is worth rather than replacement or workarounds.  For my car, I’m more likely to accept a few dents or some duct tape instead of fixing something. If it’s covered by insurance though, I expect them to pay to get my car fixed.

Our goal is always to do what’s best for the client and advocate for them.  We do insurance evaluations all the time.  It could be after a computer’s dropped, water spilled on it, or hit by lightning.  We’ve got a great reputation with adjusters in town for this and never had a claim denied.  You’d actually be surprised how often problems are covered by homeowners, renters, or business insurance.

Photo by cibomahto

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