An older article published in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Mall pulls plug on hurricane-inspired Christmas display,1 reminded me to reflect on the plight of policyholders who are still suffering from a catastrophe. At this time of year when “goodwill to all” is important, many of the people we are trying to help are still suffering in a frustrating fight with their insurance companies and trying to rebuild their homes, businesses, and lives in the aftermath of disaster.

The article noted a dose of gallows Christmas humor of those who were in the wake of Katrina:

It’s no ordinary holiday season in the Gulf Coast this year, so Frank Evans built an unconventional holiday display at a suburban New Orleans shopping mall to match.

He thought the tiny blue-tarped roofs, little toppled fences and miniature piles of hurricane debris in the display he builds annually for the mall struck just the right humorous tone.

The mall disagreed and told Evans, a landscape architect from nearby Gretna, to dismantle it.

Bob and Jill Patin of Gentilly liked the ‘You Loot, We Shoot’ graffiti on one of the ruined refrigerators.

‘It’s priceless,’ Jill Patin said. The couple, who are rebuilding their home that had wind and flood damage, came to the mall just to see the display, she said. And they weren’t alone.

Kim Koster heard about it and brought her camera. ‘It’s like putting Christmas lights up on your FEMA trailer. It just makes you feel better,’ said the New Orleans resident, whose home was flooded.

As children rode by on a motorized train that circled the display, Ray Smith and his wife, Marcia, chuckled at the ‘Caution — Operates Only in Good Weather’ sign next to a model of a Jefferson Parish pumping station. It was a wry reference to a decision by Jefferson Parish president Aaron Broussard to evacuate pump operators before Katrina hit on Aug. 29, inundating the area.

‘At times like this, you need a little humor,’ Ray Smith said.

I firmly believe that empathy is not just a desirable trait but a fundamental cornerstone of our practice. Each member of our Merlin Law Group team is expected to embody this principle in every interaction with policyholders. Empathy, coupled with compassion and patience when working with our clients, forms the bedrock of our approach to advocacy.

When policyholders face losses, they are often grappling with not just the physical destruction of their property but also the emotional upheaval and financial uncertainty that follow. During the holiday season, it’s crucial to reflect upon losses as more than just numbers on a claim form; they represent memories, hard work, and often a significant part of someone’s life. The claims professional’s role goes beyond the technical aspects of claims advocacy and resolution – it involves recognizing and responding to the human element in each case.

Empathy is a lens through which we should view every aspect of our work at Merlin Law Group. It’s about seeing the person behind the policy and dedicating ourselves to their cause with the full breadth of our expertise and compassion. A little empathy goes a long way in turning a difficult process into a journey of recovery and hope. It is especially important during the holiday season when many who have suffered may be reflecting upon their plight.

Thought For The Day

You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.

—Atticus Finch (from ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ by Harper Lee)


1 Stacey Plaisance, Man pulls plug on hurricane-inspired Christmas display, The Seattle Times, Nov. 30, 2005. (Available online at