This week, I had the opportunity to discuss trends in public adjusting with a very seasoned and humble second-generation public adjuster, Leonard "Len" Theran, located in Massachusetts. His public adjusting firm, Professional Loss Adjusters, Inc., employs seven public adjusters, who adjust claims in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Minnesota and Michigan. Professional Loss adjusters has been helping insureds since 1894.
A former president of MAPIA, the Massachusetts Association of Public Insurance Adjusters, and a member of NAPIA, Theran has also worked with the Massachusetts Commissioners office regarding public adjuster standard contract form and licensing. In addition, he is a member of CAI, Condo Association, and IREM, Real Estate Management Association.
After discussing his practice and adjustment of claims in Massachusetts, I asked him to share a few success stories to illustrate how claims adjusting occurred in his area, and he sent me the following in an email:
- Worked with an excellent Independent Adjuster to resolve a hail claim on a roof. Went back and forth to determine scope and price. Final settlement was 3.4 times the initial offer, but the negotiation was congenial and respectful—the way it should happen.
- Settled another roof claim at ten times the initial offer. Damage was caused by icicles from a radio tower that punctured a flat, membrane roof 164 times. Plotted each hole to show the extent of the damage and convinced the insurer that claim was valid and that roof should be replaced.
- Adjusted an explosion claim for a pharmaceutical company that was a startup with no profitable experience. Company could not have rebuilt the manufacturing plant in the same location. Would have taken two years to reopen in another location due to FDA permitting and they would have gone out of business. Spent a great deal of time with the company’s president to understand his business and arrive at a solution. Worked with the insurer to provide my client with the full amount of the BI/Extra Expense coverage available to enable them to buy a competitor, the only way they could have survived. It helped a great deal that the adjuster had a great deal of experience and had a reputation of being fair. He understood the problems and recommended payment.
- Took an aerial photo of an apartment complex while roof was being removed and tarped over after Hurricane Rita. When a thunderstorm tore off the tarp and caused significant additional damage, the adjuster denied the claim on the basis that the tarp was inadequate. After I showed the photo (which proved that the tarp was secured properly) to the insurer’s attorneys at a settlement meeting, the claim was paid. (My Perry Mason moment.)
I was really impressed with these success stories; in just a few short paragraphs there are lessons for every public adjuster to note.
Success Story 1
A compliment to an adversary? Very impressive. The independent adjuster is complimented in the first sentence as being “excellent” and the claim adjustment was respectful and congenial! Now, I am sure if you are a public adjuster reading this you are thinking—if my opposing side was excellent the claim would be too. However, I think it is important that the two sides did not agree at the onset. Something had to happen to get to the final favorable agreement. I think it was reached because each side presented the claim in a professional way. Even though the claim took extensive negotiation, it was resolved on the high road. Now, this public adjuster has earned the respect of the independent adjuster and respects the independent adjuster. This will be beneficial to both sides the next time they meet at a loss because the two have developed a professional working relationship. The public adjuster also told me not all independent adjusters have authority in the field, and this was an exception because most of the claims are reviewed by an inside examiner who does not visit the property.
Success Story 2
This sounds like the familiar story of repair vs. replace the roof. The plotting of each area of damage on the roof is no small task, but I think it showed the carrier three things. Number one, the roof was damaged in 164 separate and distinct areas. Number two, this public adjuster can document and prove the damage to anyone (even a jury) based on his hard work and the plotting of each individual area of damage. Finally, the claim has to be paid.
Success Story 3
This claim was a commercial loss where the building was so badly damaged that a rebuild could not be done and a new build would take too long. At this point, I think most people would have given up. However, this public adjuster did not and he should be proud of the resolution because this was more than adjusting, this was client advocacy with creativity. Even if you have been adjusting for several years or your entire life, it is important to remember the resolution for each client can be different. What worked for you on another successful loss, might not work for a new client. You need to keep the current client’s individual circumstances at the forefront. The best option for this pharmaceutical company was to buy out the competitor, but for this start-up company it is no small act to convince a carrier to pay limits on Business Income and Extra Expense Coverage. Documentation and claim presentation was key in this claim. The public adjuster explained the situation the client was facing (including the alternative) in the claim package and a resolution was achieved. Kudos to the public adjuster!
Success Story 4
Going the extra mile. The foresight to take the aerial photo of the loss after the tarp was placed saved this claim. I know most adjusters take photos of the damage but here, taking photos of the mitigation efforts resolved the claim.
One final note, what I really liked about the success stories from this Massachusetts-based public insurance adjuster was how he explained his proud moments. He did not list the figures of the settlements or tell me how much money he made. Instead, he told me how he properly adjusted and how his adjustment helped the clients.
I asked Theran if he had any advice for other public adjusters, and he explained that he learned a long time ago to spend time on the claims (even the small claims), and give the adjuster two copies of his claim presentation with support in a organized book or binder—one for the adjuster and the other for the claims manager who is really calling the shots. I think this is a very helpful and simple suggestion—show them the proof!
Want to share your story with Merlin Law Group? Email Nicole Vinson at nvinson@Merlinlawgroup.com.
If you would like to learn more about the firm, Professional Loss Adjusters, Inc., contact me and I will forward your information, or check out their blog.