I was the "token" consumer advocate at the Annual Convention of the International Association of Claims Professionals, where Bob Hartwig provided a fast paced presentation, After the Crisis: Overview & Outlook of the P-C Industry. His presentation is worthy of study and not necessarily because of the factual content. Hartwig is the President of the Insurance Information Institute and a chief propagandist for the insurance industry’s efforts to reduce consumer protection and allow insurers to wrongly delay or deny claims without accountability.
Hartwig uses many frequency and severity statistics in his presentations. Frequency of the loss is how often a loss occurs. Severity of the loss is the average amount paid per claim. Multiply the two and you can figure out how much an insurance company pays for claims. Hartwig obtains and uses these insurance industry statistics to show many alleged claims trends. He uses these statistics as part of a "parade of horrors" to demonize judges, attorneys, and consumers, who supposedly cause these numbers to increase. He can even find fault with neutral judges and policyholders when the losses are caused by acts of God.
Bob Hartwig is a tenacious and bright lobbyist for the insurance company view of how the world should work—one where consumers have few rights and judges rule for the insurance company, no matter how bad the conduct. I have never heard Bob Hartwig say that insurance companies should be held accountable for damage caused to customers for wrongfully underpaying or delaying claims. In his speech, he seemed to imply that such complaints about claims handling are always voiced after disasters and compared consumer protection concerns regarding the insurance industry to complaints regarding BP’s claims handling of claims after the oil spill catastrophe. Hartwig neglected to note, however, that BP is not an insurance company and does not promise in advance to pay claims fully, fairly and timely.
Many coastal politicians heard of the runaround many business owners received from BP after claims were filed. When they listen to Hartwig and others in the insurance lobby justify laws that reduce protections for their constituents, these politicians should remember that Hartwig, as the top insurance official for the insurance industry, apparently does not take those complaints seriously. He is a masterful propagandist, and uses some truth as a basis for attack on longstanding consumer protections and institutions which support consumers.
Most claims professionals take their jobs seriously and understand that a badly handled claim and adjustment can have devastating consequences to claimants. The insurance industry is entrusted with the obligation to deliver its product at the time performance is needed, and laws which permit unprofessional, wrong and cheating insurers to profit by paying too little or far too late on legitimate claims undermine that trust. Hartwig is effective because he has money to support his public relations campaign, and ignorant individuals in leadership positions and the media repeat the myths he scatters among the truth in his presentations. History has taught us that such propagandists are dangerous to society and should not be ignored. They need to be called out for the harm they cause before it is too late.