I was going to use the word "hate," but that is too strong for everybody. The truth is that many insurance company adjusters hate some public adjusters. Public adjusters are thought of as the enemy by most insurance company claims departments. I do not think those claims departments visualize me as a white knight, either.
This post came about as a result of Mary Kestenbaum Fortson and me being invited to Baltimore for a meeting to organize an education conference for property insurance claims. Most of the organizers in attendance were public adjusters. They asked me why other insurance industry groups "shunned" their overtures to create a fall property insurance claims conference.
Mary and I were smiling because it seemed they simply did not get it—insurance company personnel are trained that public adjusters interfere with the claims process and have to be treated almost as if they are the enemy during an adjustment. The enemy stigma, once placed into the adjuster’s head, does not seem to go away.
Need proof? Go to the Property Loss Research Bureau website (PLRB). The PLRB is the one property insurance conference professional claims adjusters for the insurance industry do not miss. It involves the "who’s who" of the property insurance world. Property insurance vendors like HAAG, Rimkus and SEA show up to court possible business with claims managers. Property insurance company attorneys are there as well. They take their clients to dinner and pontificate about claims issues and how well they have beaten down customer claims through litigation.
I only know these things through hearsay. I actually have close friends who go, share their materials with me, and talk about the events at the PLRB. The PLRB written materials are excellent and the speakers are renowned for their experience. I wish I could attend because many of the topics are my passion. However, I am not invited.
On the PLRB web site, guidelines for the attendance and other rules are posted. Believe it or not–a section exists for rules regarding public adjusters. It states:
PUBLIC ADJUSTERS, AGENTS AND BROKERS
The Claims Conference is open only to those employed by the insurance industry and those who, as their primary business, provide goods and services directly to insurers. Others, such as public adjusters, brokers, and agents, are not invited and may not register nor attend. Any such uninvited person found attending the Conference will be asked to leave and will not receive a refund.
I guess the old saying that if you are not for us, you must be against us is alive and well in the insurance company claims industry. I wonder what kind of information and secrets insurance company claims departments and their attorneys, and vendors want to keep from people who help the insurance company customers? I have always felt it hypocritical that insurance company claims executives and their attorneys say they must be honest with their policyholders, but keep claims procedures secret. How can you be honest when you are withholding the truth?
In the agenda, there is even a seminar: "How to Deal with Public Adjusters." That seminar’s details indicate:
** Locate local governing authority websites regulating the licensing and conduct of Public Adjusters
** Employ policy provisions to protect the rights of the insurer relative to coverage and policy conditions
** Resolve claims with PAs by skillful negotiation of the scoping and estimating process
** Document the claim file for effective resolution or success in appraisal
It is sad that there was not one insurance claim seminar at the PLRB devoted to the policyholder’s main concern–how to get paid fully and fast. Even skeptical readers probably get the point of what the PLRB is about—but I still wish I could go.
The organizers of the new public adjuster claims conference will not have as a spectacular event as the PLRB. Indeed, they may be in serious trouble if they are asking for my opinion about how to organize it. Yet, I can assure there will not be claims practice secrets and everyone will be treated as equals.