John Pappas is a tough litigator and very bright. I’ve known him since I helped him get his position at the 100 plus insurance coverage defense firm eventually known as Butler Pappas way back in 1982 when only a handful of attorneys worked there. Bill Berk was a tough prosecutor before he became a principal of his South Florida defense firm and a person I have been battling since Hurricane Andrew.

The three of us have been through countless ethical and bad faith claims quagmires. It would be hard for me to imagine three outside counsel dealing with more of these issues from different perspectives in Florida. Yet, stating what we believe is the proper ethical processes for handling claims is something I thought a more experienced and engaging panel could make a significant contribution at the Windstorm Insurance Conference, which engages the best of the best.

So, here is the PowerPoint of our presentation. Yet, claims and insurance professionalism and ethics is a study many would rather avoid because it is usually boring and most do not look at it as being central to making more money or progressing in advancement. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The ability to be a true claims professional and act ethically always advances you in the claims field. To make more money and advance your position, public, independent or company adjusters succeed in the long run to the degree of technical expertise they have and interpersonal skill sets those adjusters possess. Going to seminars and discussions like the ones we presented last week help those wanting to be the best get there faster. It is not an easy road, but one everybody has to climb. Education is the quickest way and far superior to the school of hard knocks learned on your client’s dime.

When researching this topic, I found an old publication from the 1960s on the topic of insurance claims professionalism and ethics that I invite all to read. It stated, in part:

Each person in the insurance business is subconsciously, if not consciously, searching for a guide to respectable or ethical behavior which will provide for him a feeling of personal satisfaction and contentment thereby allowing him to lead a more successful and rewarding life. And, as indicated above, the universal principle embodied by the golden rule will produce, in all probability, precisely what every person is searching for.

I will have more to discuss about this topic, but I would suggest that the Golden Rule is a great place to start with professional and ethical claims behavior. Hope to see you at the 2020 Windstorm Insurance Conference next year—assuming the Young Turks let me or us speak.

Thought For The Day

Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something.

  • shirley heflin

    Dear Chip:

    John Pappas and Bill Berk are two of the best Defense Attorneys out here and they’ve been around for at least three decades that I’m aware of !

    Sounds like Windstorm Conference Attendees had plenty of “educated eduation” at the Conference this year.

    Tampa, FL

  • Edward Fako


    Please accept this personal thank you for everything you and fellow Attorney’s, both MLG and all Plaintiff Attorneys plus the Defense Attorney’s for all so openly sharing at the Windstorm Network Conference this year.

    Yes, probably the two most poignant terms I felt rammed their point home, were Ethics and Disclosure throughout the Umpiring and Appraiser Certification Classes.

    That is a wonderful Quote from; “The Professional Concept And Business Ethics” stating about either Consciously or Subconsciously doing What each person feels follows Their Internal VersionOf The Golden Rule says something quite credible.

    I believe most persons feel they are doing The Right Thing, yet that all comes down to training and backgrounds and then Internal Guidelines on the Insurers Side and greed or bad past experiences on the Insureds Side.

    I feel that a more Uniform Global set of Industry Guidelines should be established. As I was telling a fellow PA Friend last night on the way to the airport. I just wish thete were Rules, and The Same Rules to be followed from one I surer to the Next.

    It was a Blessing to be able to attend and also bring my Son to Florida for the other attractions. I owe all of the staff at Windstorm, FAPIA, Merlin Law Group and Yourself and John Voelpel in particular, a great Big Sincere Thank You for everything you all did to allow me to better myself.


    Edward Fako

  • I’ve known Bill Berk since my S(tate)F(arm) days, going back to the late 80s or early 90s. Very intelligent and knowledgeable. I’m sorry to have missed the Wind conference.

    Was there anything new on SF disputing appraisers for being “affiliated” with a PA firm, when an insured selects a PA not handling the claim, but in the same firm as the PA handling the claim? The PA/appr has never met the insured, did not initially write the insured’s estimate, is paid an hourly fee, and is free to handle the appraisal however he decides.

    They started with, “he’s an employee”, “he has an interest in the outcome of the claim”, “he has an ownership interest in the firm”, and “he is a subordinate to the owner of the firm”. When all of those struck out, they have settled on “he is affiliated” with the firm, which I can not deny. He is undoubtedly more independent and disinterested than appraisers (or even umpires) working on SF appraisals. Everyone knows their game and what is needed for the appraisers and umpires to continue getting work (allegedly, and/or in my opinion and experience).

  • Jim Johnson

    With the current model many companies have adopted for claims handling, using call centers, metrics, and field inspectors with limited experience and paid on a per claim basis, I would have to question whether ethics takes a back seat or not!

  • Don’t forget that March is Ethics Awareness Month in the insurance industry.