As an attorney, I love information, and I enjoy getting my hands on an adjuster’s claim notes; I am privy to the initial reserve, internal thoughts, and other pertinent information that reveals the carrier’s position on my client’s file. On the contrary, I am often sitting in a deposition of a public adjuster where their claim notes or file embarrass or reveal an opinion that a jury may view much differently than intended.
I want to take a little time to remind all claim professionals that your file materials are discoverable and you will be asked questions about your file if litigation ensues. As such, here are a few "Do’s and Don’t’s."
- A call log that includes every time you follow up with the carrier and every other person you speak to. It is important that you are very specific in your note taking when talking to the carrier. In contrast, every note you take will be read, so be mindful of that when drafting an e-mail to your client or your client’s attorney.
- Always go over your estimate with your client.
- Always go over the carrier’s estimate and engineering reports.
- A copy of your state’s adjustment code of ethics. Don’t be shy to highlight the provisions that are being violated. This will build credibility and help any potential bad faith claim if litigation is required down the road.
- Make sure your client understands the terms of your contract.
- Provide your client with all correspondence to and from the carrier.
- Never make your correspondence to the carrier personal. If you do, it will come across unprofessional and will not help you resolve your dispute.
- Do not give legal advice. You are not a lawyer and it is illegal to practice law without a license.
- Do not represent your client for an examination under oath without advising your client to consult with an attorney. If an insurance company is going to retain an attorney to question your client under oath, then the insured should seriously consider bringing his own attorney. Think about it.
These are just a few suggestions; however, I am curious to hear from other professionals about their approach. Please leave a comment if you have a "Do or Don’t" not mentioned.