Myths and rumors in the property adjusting community are puzzling to me. As the current President of the Windstorm Insurance Network®, I was copied on an internet post that wrongly indicated that the Windstorm Insurance Conference® had attendance by public insurance adjusters that outnumbered the attendance of insurance adjusters by a four to one margin. The statement was ignorant and completely wrong.

As a matter of fact, the independent and company adjuster community outnumbered public adjusters by four to one. The insurance adjuster who made that post conflated the statistics. Here is the percentage of attendance by classification at the 2011 Windstorm Conference held in Houston: 

Accountant 1%
Appraiser/Umpire 7%
Attorney 14%
Consultant 5%
Contractor/Restoration 14%
Engineer 5%
Government 1%
Independent Adjuster 19%
Ins. Co. Managers/Adjusters 17%
Public Adjusters 9%
Vendor 7%
Other 6%

Insurance defense attorney Janet Brown was instrumental in organizing the Windstorm Insurance Network® in 1999. She described the idea and creation of it in the Tenth Anniversary Newsletter:

The idea for WIND was born out of a casual conversation with our firm’s managing partner, Rick Boehm,” says Janet L. Brown, also a partner in Boehm, Brown, Fischer, Harwood, Kelly & Scheihing, an insurance defense firm. “Rick kept asking me why we were sending our attorneys out of state for conferences on property issues and catastrophic losses. He inquired why we didn’t have something similar in Florida,” recalls Janet. “Finally, he asked me to explore the idea for an association geared to training and education for professionals involved in catastrophe insurance claims.” From that initial conversation, the WIND concept grew to the creation of an educational organization to address similar interests shared by other industry practitioners. Presentations and workshops would also be “balanced,” with participation from both the insurance industry and its counsel, as well as public adjusters and policyholder attorneys. The targeted group included those responsible for adjusting, sales, marketing, and underwriting of windstorm coverage, as well as those persons whose employment and professional responsibilities were geared toward windstorm insurance issues.

In The Windstorm Conference: A Claims and Insurance Law Conference That Cannot Be Missed, I noted:

Seriously, most significant "players" in the windstorm claims industry make this conference every year. After reviewing the panelists and workshops, it is obvious that this Windstorm Conference was very well thought out in terms of cutting edge issues that have many of us scratching our heads and debating among ourselves. The learning opportunities, as well as the networking opportunities because of the large attendance, make this entire event special.

The Wind Regional Symposium will be held in Atlanta on May 10, 2011. The Workshops are as follows:

Adjuster’s Ethics
The presenters will examine relevant Florida and Georgia statutes and case law applicable to insurance company adjusters, public adjusters and others involved in handling property insurance claims. The presentation will focus on the shared ethical responsibilities of each perspective and highlight the differences. Topics will include recent developments, pending legislative changes and the unauthorized practice of law.
Faculty: Curtis Hutchens, Esquire, Citizens Property Insurance Corporation; Gary Miller, Esquire, Freemon & Miller

Appraisal from ‘A to Z’
This workshop includes an overview of seminal cases on appraisal and discussions of recent decisions and their impact on the appraisal world. Issues such as the definition of appraisal and what is a coverage question will be addressed. Other topics include when appraisal is ripe and whether causation is a coverage question for the court or an amount of loss question for the appraisal panel. Issues such as waiver, selection of appraisers and umpires, as well as the procedure to invoke appraisal will be covered. Post-appraisal issues such as challenging an award and whether attorney’s fees, costs and interest are awardable will also be addressed.
Faculty: William “Bill” Berk, Esquire, Berk, Merchant & Sims PLC; Michael Duffy, Esquire, Childress, Duffy, Goldblatt, P.A. Jose Palacios, Peninsula Insurance Bureau

BI/Extra Expense: BI Losses for New and Unprofitable Losses
This program will address the determination and calculation of business income losses for companies that were not operating at a profit before the loss occurred. It will include a discussion about calculating loss of earnings in situations where the company previously was losing money and/or the company was a start-up and there is a difficulty in utilizing historical data.
Faculty: Stan Johnson, CPA, Navigant Consulting, Inc.; Howard Zandman, CPA, Habif, Arogeti & Wynne, LLP

Property Insurance Case Law Update
A review, explanation, and discussion of recent court decisions and legislative changes within the past twelve months affecting the interpretation of coverage issues and the adjustment of property/catastrophe claims from the perspective of both the insurer and the policyholder.
Faculty: Maureen Pearcy, Esquire, Hinshaw & Culbertson; R. Hugh Lumpkin Esquire, Ver Ploeg & Lumpkin

Salvage, Who Gets What
Exploring the seldom discussed issue of “who gets what?” when inventories are damaged. The class will touch on the issue of salvage recovery when there isn’t enough insurance to cover the loss, who has first rights to the salvage and first rights to the salvage recovery check.
Faculty: Jim Toukatly, Renaissance Adjusting; Kim Harris, Harris & Wilemon Company, Inc.

Science and Law of Hail Damage
This course will present a general background on the properties of hail stones and the effects of hail impact on roofing materials. Information will be presented on industry standards for the testing and performance of roofing products as well as expected results of hail impact on those materials. Examples will also be presented of roof conditions which are commonly mistaken for hail impact, and the actual causes of these conditions explored.
Faculty: Paul Burke, Esquire, Drew Eckl & Farnham, LLP; Pete Craig, P.E., EFI; Jeff Diamond , Esquire, Law Offices of Jeffrey D. Diamond

Xactimate 27.3: The Best Just Got Better
With exciting new tools like Aerial Sketch, Xactimate is simplifying the life of the estimator. Learn how the most complex roofs go right into Sketch with just a few clicks. Aerial Sketch, Graphical estimating, and the most recent technological developments will be discussed.

Note: If you plan on following along, please have Xactimate 27.3 LIVE or DEMO versions installed on your computer before the session begins. Follow this link to install the free demo version of 27.3.
Faculty: Chris Hatcher, Xactimate Certified Trainer, Top Adjuster Xactimate Training

WIND Umpire Certification®
This four-hour course will be taught in four components. The first segment will focus on ethics and professionalism as an umpire in the appraisal process. Case law will be the subject of the second segment. The third portion deals with the how-to of acting as an umpire and will include an open discussion of techniques. The final segment will address forms and awards.
Faculty: Janet Brown, Esquire, Boehm, Brown, Fischer, Harwood, Kelly & Scheihing, P.A.; Jon Doan, Claims Consultants Group; Wayne Taylor, Esquire, Mozley, Finlayson & Loggins LLP; John Voelpel, Voelpel Claim Service

One educational course that nobody should miss because of the outstanding faculty and guaranteed joy to be received while learning is the following:

"Layered Insurance Programs"
This session will examine the complexities in utlilizing a layered insurance program. When a primary policy is followed by multiple excess layers and/or with multiple insurers sharing in each layer, the insurers may not necessarily follow the same policy terms and conditions. Different insurer forms and a labyrinth of endorsements and conditions can create gaps in coverage and/or differences in terms and conditions. Naturally, problems and conundrums pop up when claims are filed. The panelists will discuss the best practices of handling and negotiating complex claims through a multitude of insurers. Speakers: Harvey Goodman, GGG; John Intondi, AXIS; Matt Litsky, Esquire, Phelps Dunbar; Chip Merlin, Esquire, Merlin Law Group

  • I attended the conference, and my perception of the percentage of attendees by group matches the numbers in Chip’s email. By the way, as a fee-based risk management consultant, I found the conference to be very educational, and I appreciated being able to build relationships with the company and independent adjusters as well as the public adjusters who attended.

  • Bob Dye

    Chip,

    I heard a similar comment from a presenting Defense Attorney at last years seminar in Jacksonville as she left the podium. The comment was obviously meant to evoke emotion and offered without opportunity for response.
    I heard it repeated by an senior Independent Adjuster a week later when we met and I mentioned I enjoyed the conference. He had not attended the conference.

    It is disappointing and shameful that the bias displayed attempts to tarnish an otherwise brilliant concept. Windstorm brings all claims professionals, regardless of fiduciary duty, together for education, professional discussion and, an opportunity for enhancing our service to both the Insured and Insurers.

    There are other, single purpose venues, closed to the opposing perspective. The barbs and jabs belong there (in closed session) not at Windstorm.

    Thank you for your dedicated service and leadership. I am sure at times it must seem like you are trying to “herd cats” toward their potential.