In L.A., accreditation can run from about $500 to more than $1,000 a year, depending on the size of the company.
Hurt insisted that the Better Business Bureau isn't selling high grades or overlooking any problems involving accredited businesses. She said the stakes for accredited businesses are even higher because they have more to lose if the bureau determines they've failed to live up to the organization's standards.
I'll be keen to hear your thoughts as the bureau returns to Southern California.
Here's an update on my recent column about travel insurer Allianz denying a policyholder's claim after using a manipulative form letter to coerce her doctor into giving it the answer it wanted about her health.
Now that Barbara Butkus' cardiologist was permitted to speak his mind, Allianz has reversed itself and approved her claim for $451.20 to cover a canceled plane ticket.
"We apologize for any inconvenience she may have experienced while we worked to obtain more information from her doctor, but we're glad that we could provide coverage in this circumstance and we wish her the best in her future travels," said Daniel Durazo, an Allianz spokesman.
Butkus' doctor, Philip J. Patel, had told the insurer that he advised Butkus to cancel the trip because of her breathing troubles — a new condition, he said, and thus covered by her insurance policy.
However, Allianz followed up with a form letter requiring him to provide a yes-or-no answer to whether Butkus was being treated for a "primary or underlying" condition.
"I had to say, 'Yes,' " Patel told me. "What else can you say?"
In response to the column, the California Department of Insurance said it would investigate the matter. Allianz also said it would ask Patel again whether Butkus' breathing troubles represented a new or existing condition.
Patel, in turn, reiterated his original diagnosis: Butkus' breathing difficulties represented a new condition, separate from her underlying health issues.
"It is unfortunate that this information was unable to be conveyed to you during your decision-making for Mrs. Butkus' insurance claim," Patel told Allianz. "The form letters that were sent me did not offer a chance for a proper explanation."
I asked Allianz's Durazo whether, in light of concerns raised by Butkus' case, his company still believes its claims-approval process is fair to policyholders.
He declined to answer.