In a few hours, I will become the President of the Windstorm Insurance Network. The 12th Annual Windstorm Conference has provided some impressions and reminded me of the silent majority of insurance adjusters who go about their jobs providing peace of mind and certainly overpaying parts of claims.

The modern all risk insurance policy provides many technical reasons and excuses to delay and not pay claims. Condition precedents to payment, if demanded in the entirety, can delay claims. Technical exclusions and time period requirements following delayed adjustments and payments can be used to frustrate the purpose of insurance. Fantastic adjusters avoid this scenario. As a result, I do not see their claims in lawsuits too often, if at all.

At a board dinner this week, a senior claims executive explained how his company was paying collapse losses. Being familiar with the policy language, I explained that the company didn’t have to pay partial collapse losses. He said he knew, but didn’t want to lose good customers just because the ISO changes made paying under the collapse provision impossible. Not all claims organizations share that philosophy.

While answering a question during my captivating presentation about new Gulf Coast case law, I commented when there are experienced adjusters with good interpersonal skills and the authority get claims paid, disputes seem to disappear. For other adjusters, disputes are chronic. I could make a fortune from their very upset policyholders.

For years, Hartford had a general adjuster in Florida who paid claims fairly. No complaints–happy policyholders. I litigated only one claim against him in fifteen years. He retired and was replaced with three younger adjusters. The result was a boom in Hartford insurance litigation. The cause was the adjusters’ different mind-set and skill-set.

I briefly talked with a large loss adjuster for Travelers yesterday and asked him how long he has been plying his trade. "36 years" was his response. I asked if he was behind a desk or out in the field. He adamantly said, "oh, no. Out in the field. I love my job." I could tell he meant that he loved taking care of people.

Adjustment of claims is a very demanding job. It takes heart, skill and knowledge to do it right. When done correctly by a fantastic adjuster, the policy’s goal of providing the peace of mind purchased is fulfilled. I tend to write about claims gone awry, but this silent majority of adjusters certainly deserve admiration for the work they accomplish.

I hope to meet and share success stories and techniques with other fantastic adjusters at next year’s Windstorm Conference in Orlando. We have already started taking ideas and suggestions for next year’s Conference.

Cheers!

  • Chip,

    Congratulations on your new role as President of The Windstorm Insurance Network. This weeks conference was another huge success,and a great opportunity to meet with different members of the insurance community. Being an IA, I appreaciate your recognition of the demands each adjuster faces on each claim, and identifying some of those very dedicated adjusters. The Wind Conference is one of the very few avenue’s where Plaintiff advocate’s and carrier represetatives, can gather and exchange ideas, opinions, and points of views,to help our industry move forward in a more productive environment. Best wishes and good luck with your upcoming year.

  • Don Phillips

    I agree that there are more than a few “fantastic adjusters” out there whether they are staff, independent or public adjusters. The common thread I have found with them all is that they treat the policyholder with respect and look to do the right thing.

    I found it interesting that all three examples you used were claims professionals that had been in the industry for an extended period of time. It is my belief that the technical aspect of claims adjusting has not changed that much over the years. It is the mindset that has changed. Claims adjusting has become much more adversarial than it needs to be. That goes for both sides of the fence.

    Adjusting a claim professionally while showing respect to all involved parties goes a long way in getting the claim settled in a manner that is fair for everyone.

  • Chip, I agree with you wholeheartedly. As a restoration contractor I have had the pleasure of working with some great folks over the last fifteen years. Typically holding the “dumb” end of the tape. These men and women put lives back togeather and they should be applauded. As they say in the business it is what it is.

    Regards & Congradulations,

    JM

  • Russell M. Tinsley

    Chip,
    WIND will be all the better for having you serve as its president. I wish you all the best during the coming year and look forward to seeing you at some future date.

  • Gary Ahrens

    Chip
    I commend you on this post. Though I am a public adjuster now, I worked as an independent adjuster for a number of years. I loved settling claims and helping those in their time of need. Yes, there are good men who work for the insurer just as there good men who work for the insured but both have the policyholders best interest at heart. So I agree that there are some fantastic adjusters, but I would like to point out that there are also many good adjusters which do a fantastic job. In my opinion, the only time you can distinguish a good adjuster from a terrific adjuster is when the insurance company gives the good, honest, skilled adjuster the authority to settle the claim. It has been a long time since I have had a field adjuster say, this is what I am going to do.

  • Ed Rega

    Chip

    Congradulations!! Very nice comments and a good one by my old friend Don Phillips. Good Luck and I will be at the Orlando Confrence where I will hope to see You and your Associates.

    Ed Rega
    General Adjuster
    Wind Certified Umpire
    IAUA Certified
    Serving both sides of the aisle “Fairly”,in Florida since 1965

  • Frank Artiles

    Chip,

    Congratulations on becoming the President of the Windstorm organization. As an industry leader you are the “Right man” for the job. I look forward to working with you and your organization.

    Thank you and God Bless,

    Frank Artiles

  • Mark

    Congratulations Chip – you will blaze new effective trails.

  • Salute on your presidency of The Windstorm Network! Your insight on the silent fantastic adjusters was well deserved, as the good ones often go unnoticed by the industry at large.

    The Wind Network seems to have a comprehensive Appraisal program, which I am sure you will add much to, with your appraisal and legal background.

  • Congrats! Look forward to reading more about your experience with the group.

  • Mike Rump

    Way to go Windstorm Network!!

    Chip Merlin as President is a great choice.

  • Hunter Williams

    Chip,

    I have worked on both sides of the fence in both first and third party claims. As a CPA I have always believed there is never a “right” answer but one that is reasonable based on the evidence, circumstances surrounding the loss and the policy language if applicable.

    So often the adjuster just doesn’t have the authority to do anything. I remember one Executive General Adjuster saying after a 9/11 loss when asked a direct question about coverage, “I have an opinion about the claim, I just haven’t been told what it is yet.”

    I long for the days when you could sit down with an adjuster and settle the issues and settle the claim.

    Good luck in your new position. How do you become involved with the organization?

  • Gary Greenfield

    First, congratulations, Chip. WIND will be well served by your leadership, passion, and knowledge.

    Regarding the statement, “The result was a boom in Hartford insurance litigation. The cause was the adjusters’ different mind-set and skill-set.” I don’t think newer adjusters for any carrier come in with a different mind-set, they are instructed and trained to adjust claims that way. I rarely come across a field adjuster who has any authority whatsoever to settle claims.