Steve Patrick inspired me to write today’s post. In Level The Playing Field, he commented that “adjusters are persuaded by those they like, trust, and respect – just like prospects do with sales professionals. This is human nature.”  

In the intricate dance of property insurance claims handling, there exists a fundamental truth that often goes unspoken: human nature plays a pivotal role in decision-making. Just as prospects are swayed by sales professionals they trust, like, and respect, adjusters and appraisers are also influenced by those who possess these qualities. This is not a weakness or a flaw but a testament to the human element in every professional interaction.

The Human Element in Claims Handling

At its core, the process of determining the value of a disputed property insurance claim is a technical one grounded in facts, figures, and evidence. However, the individuals involved in this process – adjusters, appraisers, and umpires – are not mere robots. They come with their own human perceptions, biases, and emotions. Recognizing and understanding this human element can significantly impact the outcome of a claim or appraisal.

Every interaction, every discussion, and every decision is filtered through a lens of personal experience and emotion. While we often emphasize the importance of objectivity, it’s equally crucial to recognize that our human tendencies shape our professional judgments. By acknowledging this, we can better navigate the complexities of claims handling.

Building Trust: The Cornerstone of Persuasion

Trust is not given; it’s earned. In the realm of property insurance, trust is established through consistent actions, transparency, and a genuine commitment to fairness. When an appraiser or umpire demonstrates a deep understanding of the claim and is willing to listen and consider all perspectives, they lay the foundation for trust. Adjusters are more likely to be persuaded by those they believe have the claim’s best interests at heart.

But how does one build this trust? It starts with consistency. Every interaction, every piece of communication, and every decision should reflect a commitment to fairness and integrity. Over time, these consistent actions will foster a sense of reliability and predictability, making it easier for adjusters to place their trust in appraisers and umpires.

The Role of Respect

Respect is a two-way street. It’s not just about being respected but also about showing respect. This means acknowledging the adjuster’s expertise, understanding their perspective, and valuing their input. When mutual respect is present, discussions become more productive, and resolutions are reached more amicably.

Moreover, respect goes beyond mere acknowledgment. It involves a deep appreciation for the adjuster or appraiser’s role and the challenges they face. By demonstrating this appreciation, appraisers and umpires can create a more collaborative and understanding environment conducive to effective claims resolution.

The Power of Likability

While likability might seem like a superficial factor, it plays a crucial role in human interactions. People are naturally inclined to agree with those they like. This doesn’t mean one has to be overly agreeable or insincere. Instead, it’s about building genuine relationships, showing empathy, and finding common ground.

Likability is often fostered through small gestures: a willingness to listen, a sense of humor, or even just a friendly demeanor. Over time, these gestures can build rapport, making it easier to navigate contentious discussions and reach mutually beneficial resolutions.

Bridging the Gap: Practical Steps for Appraisers and Umpires

Active Listening: Before presenting your perspective, be sure you fully understand the adjuster’s viewpoint. This not only shows respect but also allows for a more informed discussion. Active listening involves more than just hearing words; it’s about understanding the underlying emotions and concerns.

Open Communication: Be transparent about your evaluation process, the evidence you’ve considered, and the rationale behind your decisions. This transparency eliminates any perception of hidden agendas and fosters a sense of trust.

Seek Collaboration: Instead of approaching the claim as a battle to be won, view it as a collaborative effort. Find areas of agreement and build on them. By focusing on collaboration rather than confrontation, we can achieve more balanced and fair outcomes.

Maintain Professionalism: While building trust and likability is essential, always ensure that your interactions remain professional, unbiased, and focused on the task at hand. Professionalism ensures that the claims process remains fair and just for all parties involved.

In Never Split the Difference, Chris Voss, a former FBI hostage negotiator, provides invaluable insights into the art of negotiation and persuasion. For those in the property insurance claims business, this book offers techniques to build trust, respect, and likability, qualities Steve Patrick suggests are vital to effective claims resolution, and doing your job. Voss emphasizes the importance of active listening, understanding emotional drivers, and crafting calibrated questions. By applying these strategies, claims professionals can navigate complex property insurance disputes more effectively, ensuring fair outcomes while fostering genuine relationships. The book underscores that successful negotiation is rooted in human psychology and connection, making it a must-read for those in claims adjustment or appraisal.

While the technical aspects of property insurance claims handling are undeniably important, the human element is paramount to your success. By building trust, earning respect, and fostering genuine relationships, adjusters, appraisers, and umpires can more effectively navigate the complexities and differing views of any claim or appraisal. 

Thought For The Day

Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.

—Stephen R. Covey