Mark Phillips recently posted a comment in Surplus Lines Insurers, Sinkholes, and the Law of Mars, which would probably terminate his employment as an adjuster for telling the truth if he were still an Independent Adjuster:
"I handled numerous loss adjustments for a South Florida MGA broker who had arranged his own "excess surplus lines" authority overseas. Due to this flexible "hand-shake" authority and with his own customized and approved manuscripted policy designs, he was actually controlling the underwriting data and policy issuance. He was bold and daring enough to "check off" certain boxes misrepresenting building characteristics and histories inaccurately on applications, so that, at time of loss investigation he could promptly deny coverage when it was noted in the adjusting routine that certain building events and maintenances had not occurred as were required to be validated in order to acquire the policy coverage and issuance. He could thus accurately void the contract on grounds of misrepresentation, and have the underwriting questionnaire in the file to back up the denial. His incentive was of course to sustain his flexible contract arrangement and limit his loss ratios, thus enriching his commission contingencies. Worth noting is that many of the insureds represented a class of Hispanic consumers who had no ability to know what was authentically being stated on their final application and were thus caught by surprise when struggling to communicate in English, back to me the adjuster, that they had not confirmed certain property realities that had been "checked off" on their application.
Another compromised policyholder left at the curb."
We get told similar stories by other adjusters so long as it is "off the record."
A person with significant experience in the insurance industry, Deborah Moroy of Dimechimes, wrote in response to Playing the Float and the Wisdom of Warren Buffett:
"I am fiercely committed to improve claims handling in the insurance industry while maintaining positive networking environments. I do not allow any negative posts or adjusting firm or carrier specific "blasting" among our members. I promote the discussion of claim handling in general but regularly post links to great blogs and articles found on the Internet. It has been 3 years of extremely hard work since I cannot post carrier information or ask adjusters to upload file samples so they don’t violate carrier code of conduct requirements. So, my sole source of info is through training info I find on the web. The info found on the majority is worthless except in generic format…….."
It should be against public policy for insurance companies to have any trade secrets regarding claims practices and there should be even a stronger public policy regarding any codes of conduct which prevent any adjuster or employee from disclosing improper methods or activities of claims adjustment. If we allow insurers to hide behind these shields, all we do is silence the otherwise courageous adjusters because the attorneys for the insurers will threaten them with civil action.
The classic example is the civil prosecution of the Rigsby sisters. They told a story of a State Farm adjuster holding numerous reports which were not being sent to policyholders but were "revised." The revised reports were always worse for the policyholders because they allowed for State Farm to deny claims. Had their story stopped there, they would have been terminated. But their actions went further with Dickie Scruggs, and the rest has been fodder for demeaning posts by the insurance industry.
Still, the message is clear from the insurance industry: We have a Code of Silence that you violate at your own risk.
We have initiated discussions with legislators at the state and federal level regarding these concerns. I could probably use the experience of Congressman Gene Taylor as an example. I took one of the Rimkus engineers to Washington to explain and show how his report was changed and signed without his permission. He did this in front of Taylor. In the civil action, the engineer called just before his deposition to tell us that Rimkus was getting him an attorney. At the deposition, he could barely recall the meeting with Taylor.
While there are legitimate reasons for adjusters and insurance company vendors to remain silent regarding the private information of customers and claimants, laws and contracts which further goals or activities of claims misconduct should never be allowed and there should always be exceptions to any arguments of privacy. The insurance industry should never be allowed to take any retribution against those that publicly make others aware of wrongful claims conduct. Otherwise, the insurance industry is acting like another illegal industry with a code of silence.
If the insurance industry were really trying to stop bad claims practices, they would be up with me in Washington and in Tallahassee trying to help. I will write and call them to let you know where they stand. Stay tuned.