I wonder how hard the Hurricane Ike insurance company adjusters are working to pay benefits? I have always found that the harder and longer you work at something, the better the results are.
Similarly, one would expect that the longer an adjuster inspected a structure and looked for damage, the more benefits would be paid.

For an insurance company, ignorance can be bliss. For example, last week our law firm spent two hours in a in-house seminar regarding how winds can damage the glazing, fastening, and frames of glass windows and doors. The gentlemen teaching us spend their entire time inspecting glass windows and doors for all kinds of reasons.

I wonder how many insurance company adjusters have received any training regarding the effects of wind on glass doors and windows? I suspect that many Houston policyholders are going to be left with glass windows and doors that will deteriorate quicker, leak more often, and not work as well as a result of Hurricane Ike. Ignorant claims adjusters can wrongly save an insurer a lot of money at the policyholder’s expense.

Most catastrophe adjusters receive little technical training regarding how a hurricane affects a structure. I took a deposition of a State Farm catastrophe adjuster that had no construction or adjustment experience before Hurricane Katrina. He was previously a minor league hockey player. Want to take a bet on how often his estimates for damage were accurate?

I was thinking about the ongoing Hurricane Ike insurance claims during a deposition this week. The insurance company attorney at the deposition didn’t appear to get it–but his adjuster client understood exactly what I was asking. Yesterday’s post, Rules of Good Faith Claims Handling, listed the rules of claims adjustment. The adjuster agreed that his good faith training recognized every one of those claims rules about which I inquired.

Many catastrophe insurance adjusting firms pay lip service to the rules of good faith claims handling. There is little training and even less emphasis placed on getting the estimate right in the sense that the policyholder is getting the service promised and owed. The emphasis of most catastrophe adjustment services is to simply get the estimate done.

As a result, claims problems are commonplace following a catastrophe.

Hurricane Ike claimants are in the same boat Floridians were in following the 2004 hurricanes and other Gulf Coast residents were in following Katrina. As a result, it should come as no surprise that people hire attorneys like us–the insurance industry has invited Hurricane Ike policyholders to do so by failing to provide the service our clients bought.

Sometimes when I talk at conferences on this topic, an insurance adjuster or insurance attorney will challenge me. He or she will say that I never see the hundreds of examples of satisfied policyholders. In response, I ask if he would be willing to let me re-inspect and reopen ten claims files to see if I can prove that nine out of ten claimants did not receive entitled benefits. They get quiet pretty darn fast.

And the sad part is that insurance companies should have  programs doing exactly what I proposed. After all, shouldn’t the insurance company be trying hard to pay every penny it is supposed to pay? That is how Hurricane Ike claims are supposed to be handled.