Sentencing date set in Scruggs Bribery case

May 30, 2008

The sentencing date for Scrugg’s and his son and Backstrom has been announced for July 2, 2008 (moved from initial date of June 18, 2008 per the following blog posts:

http://letterofapology.com/2008/05/30/scruggs-sentencing-set-for-july-2-and-other-updates

http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2008/05/30/sentencing-roundup-weisss-looms-the-scruggs-gang-gets-a-date/

http://www.clarionledger.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080529/NEWS/80529034

The www.letterofapology.com link (1st above) contains a copy of the judge’s order in the case and information about why the sentencing date was moved to July 2, 2008.

Here’s one more blog on the subject providing additional background info on the Scruggs case:

http://www.legalnewsline.com/news/213036-five-weeks-until-scruggs-learns-fate

Here’s a late edition- an interesting blog over at www.property-casualty.com which is National Underwriter’s editor Sam Friedman’s blog on many insurance issues that would interest many of you:

http://www.property-casualty.com/2008/05/how_the_mighty_have_fallen.html

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What role are rising gas prices going to play in your deployment decisions for Hurricane season 2008? Carriers and Adjusting Firms should meet the need!

May 29, 2008

Here is an interesting article by Dow Jones on how rising gasoline prices are going to increase the cost of claim settlements should a big one hit this coming hurricane season:

http://www.lloyds.com/CmsPhoenix/DowJonesArticle.aspx?id=393043

Basically, the cost of material goods from building material suppliers will rise due to transportation costs of materials,etc thus increasing the cost to settle not only building but contents claims.

What I wish they would have included in the article is the effect rising gasoline prices will have on independent adjusters decisions regarding deployment this hurricane season. For those not familiar with independent adjusters, they must pay their own expenses unlike staff adjusters who are employees for an insurance carrier who have their expenses covered by their employer- the insurance company.

Independent adjusters basically have four options:

1)Deploy and absorb the extra expense greatly cutting into their profits (which are now often greatly reduced to begin with due to partial assignments while the carrier staff works part of the coverage on contents and ale losses). Current hot topics on this subject include adjusters discussing different vehicle options moving from the SUV’s and trucks to smaller vehicles with better gas mileage. This presents a real issue for independent adjusters who live on the road following storms needing larger vehicles for one and two story ladders, estimatic and computer equipment, and living supplies needed for survival in often very unpleasant living circumstances at the beginning of any severe storm. Here’s a link to just two of many ongoing discussions on this topic: click here and here. The first link you may have to login to CADO to read as it’s in the adjuster den forums which require login. There is also a 3rd ongoing discussion about adjusters changing vehicles but I couldnt get my hands on the topic and will update this when I do so.

2) Deploy but only accept in office assignments in insurance companies claim central operations as many carriers have catastrophe claim central operations and use independents in this capacity for the great demand when necessary. I’ve seen many experienced independents accepting these assignments who in the past would never want to be tied to an in office cubicle environment on a daily rate instead of working off fee schedules on field inspections because of several issues to include the unfortunate increase in non paying adjusting firms on fee schedule handled files (they’ll know within 2 weeks  or so if the firm is paying or not working in office) and because of the guarantee of atleast biweekly if not weekly pay versus the unreasonable delay in some carriers offices in settling field catastrophe files so adjusters get paid (as well as insureds of course).

3) Many independent adjusters who prefer the independent adjuster lifestyle are moving to carrier staff adjuster positions. If you missed our blog on the pros and cons of each position- here is a link.

4) The last option is to leave the field altogether which many are doing due to the lack of work the past two seasons. They need a dependable stable income which the independent adjusting business has not been able to provide the last two years.

Here’s a link to an interesting AP article out this week indicating we are getting ready to break US records this tornado season on claims so hopefully independents are finding much more work these past few weeks. We’ve gotten some great news from long term ClaimSmentor trainees who picked up storm assignments in the past few weeks as assistants on rope and harness teams with some of the major independent adjusting firms which I feel sure is due to their committment to continuing adjuster education knowing these individuals who have definitely prepared for this career with licensing, estimatic courses, carrier certification exams successfully passed,  and field mentor training they’ve gone through. This is an outstanding opportunity for them to work with an experienced adjuster on the rope and harness teams to learn the practical application of all of their training in a real claims environment while being coached by this other half of their team. Hats off to the adjusting firms using this approach to develop new adjusters!

So what are some of the things adjusting firms and insurance companies can do to ensure more independents do not leave the field due to rising fuel costs?

1) Carriers and/or adjusting firms (depending on who is making the assignments to the independents)should ensure that their catastrophe claim automation folks on large cats or local field operations on smaller cats are using automated zoning systems utilizing the 9 digit zip codes to ensure that claims are assigned in tighter zones for independent assignments getting their group of claim assignments as close together as possible to  lower their gas expenses.

2) Hopefully, carriers and adjusting firms are all using current technology using CMS (Claim Management Systems) so adjusters can download assignments and upload inspection/claim documents without the need to waste precious fuel to come into pick up  and drop off assignments. CMS systems not only reduce fuel expenses but provide much more prompt settlement of claims for policyholders as carriers have immediate access to claim file documents. My top recommendation on CMS systems if you do not have one is Click Claims which won the AM Best’s Efusion Award for CMS systems- here’s a link if you want to take a free demo. I personally managed adjusters throughout FL during the 4 in 04 hurricanes in FL and cannot image accepting an assignment working without this particular program again. By the way, vendors using email only processes for catastrophe claim documents should be history as it leads to nothing but confusion and loss of claim file documents and unnecessary delays in processing file closures for prompt payments to insureds when no one can find the emailed documents. I am also aware of numerous new adjusters who were burned on adjuster fees when files were not uploaded in their name after emailing them in and a supervisor uploaded them into a different adjuster’s name. I was totally surprised but heard it enough to believe it was true for some inexperienced adjusters.

3) Keep unit meetings during a storm to a limited number reserved for critical information sharing otherwise minor details can be shared by email and teleconferences where managers conference call unit members versus requiring travel to cat offices. This would apply to meetings required by adjusting firms and for insurance carriers.

4) Many adjusting firms share in any gas allowance fees which may be incorporated into a carrier’s fee schedule. For instance, if the fee split in the independent contract with the adjuster is 60% to the adjuster and 40% to the adjusting firm, the firm will take their 40% of the mileage allowance as well as the gross billing on the amount of loss fee. One of the forum links above had adjusters discussing this issue. I’d like some light shed on this practice by SOME adjusting firms as I do not see any reason whatsoever that an adjusting firm should be taking a percentage of the travel fees when they incurred ZERO percent of the cost. If there are reasons they do so, please reply and let us know!

For those that aren’t famililar with insurance company  independent fee schedules, many require the adjuster go a given number of miles with no allowance such as 50 miles before they then consider an allowance for mileage traveled. Typical schedules say the first 50 miles is included in the regular fee on the claim.

Adjusting firms that are doing this should consider offering 100% of the travel allowance to the independent adjuster incurring the cost. Adjusting firms should also consider negotiating a gas allowance per claim particularly if the independent adjuster is assigned a rural territory incurring unreasonable mileage. During the 4 in 04, I had no trouble negotiating a gas allowance for our independent adjusters with many regional carriers at all. I know some carriers such as the recent Citizens RFP says there will be no negotiating on their fee schedule. This could work to their detriment if other insurance carriers are allowing this gas mileage allowance.

5) Carriers can host carrier certification classes online through podcasts and webinars versus requirements adjusters travel to their pre-qualified independent firms offices for testing. Today many offer IDL (Interactive Distance Learning) webinars the adjusters can take in field locations throughout the nation at agents or carrier regional offices yet they then require the independent adjuster actually travel to the independent adjusting firms assigned their claims to take the actual certification test which follows the IDL. For example, an adjuster residing in FL may be able to watch the preliminary IDL in FL at a regional office for the carrier yet the closest adjusting firm office to take the test is in LA. This makes no sense when the carriers can provide monitored testing at the same locations at their offices where the IDL sessions are held or use an examination center like the AICPCU program does for the CPCU or AIC exams where they are proctored at local colleges.

6) Carriers should seriously consider helping with this problem by assigning rural territories to their staff adjusters as their gas expenses are covered if they wish to keep independents working claims. This may not be possible during the clean up phase where territory assignments are more difficult but this should be no problem whatsoever at the onset of a large storm.

Carriers need to consider that independent adjusters when not deployed on cat are working other positions at home and also do not have unlimited time to take off of daily work they are doing at home to travel during the week to take all of the various carrier certification exams required for them to work claims and should also consider offering these exams and IDL programs on Saturdays.

7) Adjusters- have you considered two story rope and harness team assignments where you split the fuel costs? Most of these assignments are paid on daily rates so you will also be paid regularly and on a stable schedule.

8 ) Carriers need to consider claim managers dedicated to reviewing and approving independent claim files as they are often set aside by cat managers to review later due to the extra work involved reviewing and approving the fee bill. During the storms in 04, it wasn’t uncommon to have delays of 60-90 days AND MORE on adjusting firms being paid due to back logs in carrier claim operations reviewing and approving files. Thankfully, that year the FL Dept of Insurance imposed many deadlines on claim closures which helped atleast get them processed a bit more timely. The intent was to get the settlement money in the hands of insureds which is most important but it didn’t hurt getting the payments to independent adjusting firms either.

9) Adjusting firms definitely need to increase their office personnel during a major storm. I’ve had the unfortunate experience of managing independent adjusters and trying to keep them happy and funded when the adjusting firm had far below the number of office personnel to timely invoice the carrier on claims and just as important to timely follow up on unpaid invoices. Adjusters will not be able to sustain themselves this year for 60-90 day time frames with fuel expenses this high and ever going higher should a hurricane hit. Office staff also needs to be mentored on the importance of processing these payments when payments do come into the adjusting firm for timely payment to the adjusters. I have witnessed too often some pretty rude comments coming from office staff such as “if they want a regular paycheck go get a staff job” which does nothing for adjuster/adjusting firm relationships. In another case, at 4pm sharp each day the office staff walked out the door at 4pm as the adjusting firm wouldn’t authorize overtime at a time it was sorely needed to set up new catastrophe assignments and process invoices. Listen folks, if you don’t keep adjusters funded for work they have professionally completed, we will all see the fall of the independent industry. Due to partial assignments from the carrier and poor payment practices on the carrier thus the adjusting firm part, many independent adjusters are finding it most difficult to continue on this career path. This is not to say all adjusting firm office staff are negative, there are many adjusting firms who are proactive on invoicing and their staff runs an excellent operation. Adjusters just need to determine quickly what type of operation they are dealing with and depart the assignment at the first sign of payment issues.

A recent example is the Citizens policy posted in recent RFP documents where they indicate they have 30 days to pay the adjusting firm from the time a claim is submitted yet they require the adjusting firm pay the adjuster within 14 days of assignment.  So………..should all go like clock work an independent adjuster would be looking at a minimum of six weeks before they get paid on a claim from the day it is submitted for closure. How many Americans would work for six weeks without pay …not many I’d venture to guess and they are in a stable home environment not incurring hotel and these excessive fuel charges to service claims.

Here are some other ideas not just adjusting firm and carrier specific but some great ideas:

Offering incentives and rewards in the form of gas gift cards to employees is mentioned in this article which says in part:

A small but growing number of employers are offering gas and commuting incentives to help workers get to work. A May 6, 2008, survey of 553 human resource managers found the percentage of companies offering gas cards as employee rewards more than doubled between 2007 and 2008 — from 6 percent to 14 percent. The study, conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management, also noted that companies are organizing car pools, offering telecommuting options and public transportation discounts and giving cash incentives for employees to buy hybrid cars.

http://www.creditcards.com/credit-card-news/gas-card-price-poll-1277.php

How about gas card incentives offered by various hotel chains- you’ll be amazed at the results if you just enter “gas card incentives” in a google search to find results like the following article with numerous offers by hotel chains:

http://www.travelpost.com/articles/save-on-gas.aspx

Here’s another cool tool adjuster’s would find useful to calculate your fuel costs to deploy to another city for catastrophe duty based on your vehicle and your route from AAA:

http://www.fuelcostcalculator.com

Here is another great site for determining gas prices nationwide, mapping your trip and finding the best deals on gas along the way:

http://gasbuddy.com/

This is just another  challenging opportunity for us to work together with carriers, adjusting firms, and adjusters to find ways to solve this problem to properly service claims for our policyholders. We need to meet this challenge BEFORE the first hurricane hits by establishing plans for dealing with these gas price issues facing independent adjusters. June 1, 2008 is just days away….what a GREAT time to establish and announce your independent adjuster friendly policy for meeting the needs to cover this fuel cost crisis for independents this season!

If you know of other fuel cost savings for adjusters or some innovative way firms and carriers are dealing with this issue…feel free to reply and share your ideas with our readers.


Colorado Hail/ Tornado of May 22, 2008- Updated Damage Reports

May 23, 2008

That was quite some storm in Colorado yesterday and the hail damage report sizes shown on the NOAA storm reports indicates there was major hail there. Here’s some of the best of the news reports we located and other information you may need if heading to CO for tornado/hail storm duty:

Here’s one of the best stories with details on the structural damage:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080523/ap_on_re_us/severe_weather

 

State Farm’s CO Regional office suffers storm damage and Dept of Insurance encourages insureds encouraged to call SF corporate instead:

http://www.krdo.com/Global/story.asp?S=8368796

Colorado Dept of Insurance website:

http://www.dora.state.co.us  (Nothing on site about adjuster’s licenses- I don’t believe they are required)

Colorado Dept of Insurance Market Share and Carrier Insurance Dept complaint info- Good link for adjusting firms looking for insurance companies to market their services to with their market share for these storm claims:
http://www.dora.state.co.us/pls/real/ins_comp_ratio_report.generate_report?p_report_id=Complaint%20Ratio%20Search%20Results&p_report_year=2006&p_policy_type=HOME&p_min_complaints=5&p_min_marketshare=0.10&p_report_format=HTML&p_report_type=Standard%20Reports&p_order_by=company_name

 Here’s several links to some interesting storm stories in the Denver post on the damage:

http://www.denverpost.com/breakingnews/ci_9352829

http://www.denverpost.com/breakingnews/ci_9352828

**look for the word tornados in the left side of the box on this second link to lots of video footage of the damage

http://www.denverpost.com/breakingnews/ci_9352505

Here are yesterday’s NOAA storm reports showing the tornado and hail damage reports:

http://www.spc.noaa.gov/climo/reports/yesterday.html

**note if your accessing the storm report link after 5/23 then you’d enter 5/22/08 on the link to find these reports

Here’s the Windsor CO website showing neighborhoods closed to public and more info today on damage there and emergency shelters:

http://www.ci.windsor.co.us/

Weld County is the county listed in the NOAA storm reports- here is some helpful info on the Weld County Sheriff’s office site:

http://www.weldsheriff.com/

Very interesting info on how very large Weld County is- and other links you may need to their Building Inspector and Building and Permits numbers:

http://www.co.weld.co.us/

Weld County covers an area of 4,004 square miles in north central Colorado. It is bordered on the north by Wyoming and Nebraska and on the south by the Denver metropolitan area. The third largest county in Colorado, Weld County has an area greater than that of Rhode Island, Delaware and the District of Columbia combined. The climate is dry and generally mild with warm summers, mild winters and a growing season of approximately 138 days. Read more…

Here are some interesting statistics on the most costly storms in the Rocky Mountain region:

http://www.rmiia.org/Catastrophes_and_Statistics/catastrophes.htm#regional

I’ll update this blog post throughout the day as we locate carrier damage numbers.


Concerned regarding Adjuster Fee Schedules for Citizens of FL?

May 19, 2008

 

There is an ongoing topic at CADO here where adjusters are expressing concerns regarding the Citizens Fee Schedule. I don’t normally link to their forum topics but this is an especially good discussion going on that adjusters planning to work Citizens might wish to read. It is found here:

http://www.catadjuster.org/Forums/tabid/60/forumid/28/tpage/1/view/Topic/postid/8045/Default.aspx

 While I’m not employed by Citizens or affiliated with them in anyway, I have been actively researching all information they do publish on their website for well over a year now due to my claim staffing firm who may receive requests to supply adjusters to help Citizens vendors. Here are answers that I provided in response to some things being posted regarding the fee schedule that might help others with the confusion on which fee schedule will apply this year. Should I receive any feedback that corrects any info I’ve provided based on my reading of the Citizens of FL documents, I will update this post:

I think I see what the confusion is in this topic on the  $70.00 or $700.00 fee.
 
We are dealing with 2 different RFP’s (Request for Proposal Documents) and 2 different fee schedules – one with each of them.
 
Citizens bid out the RFP in 2007 (RFP 07-0003) which the agreement form found on page 21 of the below link says is for Catastrophe Claims Agreement for the period of June 1, 2007 through 5/31/2009 so that would include this hurricane season during 2008. All of those documents can be located here on their website on RFP 07-0003 which is 2nd to the bottom on this link to include the fee schedule and the fines for violations of their service handling standards. This is the RFP that we have seen the award list for the 45 vendors which has since been increased to 46 vendors although they never published the updated list with the 46th vendor ( we wrote about that with a link to the Citizens announcement on Bradley Stinson firm  in a link in one of the following paragraphs.
 
 
They then began bidding out for daily work for Daily claims (RFP for daily claims which occur from 7/1/2008-6/30/2011 and catastrophe claims from 6/1/2009 to 6/30/2011. This is the RFP that has been revised 3 times since the beginning of 2008.(RFP 08-0001 2/08 and RFP 08-0016 the current ones issued April 08 RFP 08-0016  which replaced RFP 08-0001)
 
Here is a blog addressing the 3 revisions which included the initial RFP in 2/08 and the 2 revisions in April/May 08:
 
 
 
Here are links to the first one that got cancelled in Feb 08 AFTER the vendors wishing consideration had submitted their RFP docs:
 

***They haven’t zipped these docs yet so look for RFP 08-0001 to see the RFP and the cancellation notice (I think it was addendum 4). We wrote about this cancellation with more details here:

And a blog we wrote about the Feb 08 cancellation:

https://dimechimes.wordpress.com/2008/02/13/citizens-rfp-for-daily-independent-adjusters-cancelled-the-claims-cheese-is-on-the-move-again/

 
 
 
Here is the link to the current RFP 08-0016 which was initially posted 4/22/08 with a fee schedule  for the new dates in the 08 RFP then revised again on 4/28/08  and 5/9/08 to include revisions to the fee schedule and the Q & A document mentioned above that confirms they did intentionally put $70.00 versus $700.00 on the slab footprint only claims.
 
**Docs not yet zipped so just look for RFP 08-0016. Note they move documents when an RFP is closed to the Closed purchasing documents which you can access going to www.citizensfla.com then clicking on purchasing the click on the tab for Closed Competitive Solicitations to find the RFP when it does move.
 
This new RFP included a Q & A in Addendum 2 dated 5/9/08  where the vendors had an opportunity to present questions to Citizens which they then published the answers to on May 9, 2008. In that Q and A info they published, one of the vendors specificially asked the question if there had been an error on the published fee of 70.00 on the total losses where they just wanted a footprint taken since the schedule for 2007/2008 cat work had said 700.00. Citizens answered this question in Q5 of Addendum 2 that an error had NOT been made and 70.00 was in fact the correct fee for the daily work beginning June 2008 daily claims and the cat work beginning June 2009. While they didn’t use those dates, the Q &A applied to the new RFP questions so that would be the new time frame. Note they have not yet selected the firms for the new RFP. The list you’ve seen of 45 vendors (it is actually 46 now- see this blog if your not familiar with the 46th vendor info here:
 
 
 
 
Evans Claims, one of this years vendors, has the Face to Face requirement email from the interim Citizens Catastrophe Director posted on their website in a May 12, 2008 post here which explains there reason for requesting the face to face training and I’ve seen in uploaded as an attachment on some of the other vendors emails to their adjusters as well:
 
 
Here is a link to a blog we did on the new face to face training requirement:
 
 
What is interesting is that the Adjuster Resources Link at Citzens has not been updated as of this morning  on the new face to face training and still links to the online training although many of the vendor emails say the online training thousands did in 07 no longer counts for your certification: You might want to keep checking here for when they do finally get it updated
 
 
Here are links where you can find the current fee schedule for this season and the RFP document with the new fee schedule in Addendum A for the new RFP dates.
 
**Docs not yet zipped so look for RFP 08-0016
 
There are significant changes between the RFP for 2007/2008(cat only RFP 07-0003) and the new ones for July 2008- June 2011 for daily claims and the beginning June 2009 through May 2011 for catastrophe claims.Very interesting in the new RFP the fee schedule is based on the number of adjusters Citizens deploys not on the severity of the catastrophe like we usually see on fee schedules and they address this as well on the Q & A in the new RFP 5/9/08 published answers. I highly recommend anyone planning to work for any of the vendors be sure to read them. Some of the most significant include:
 
1 )Citizens comments in the new RFP Q & A on hold harmless agreements and who will be paying if suit is filed on a claim.  2) The other major issue I could see is their answer to the question posed by one of the vendors about what happens if Citizens runs out of funding to pay claims to the adjusting firm/adjuster fees and Citizens could not provide assurance as to what would happen to the adjuster fees.3) Anyone reading the FL papers is well aware of the controversy regarding Citizens freeze on rates which has now been extended and the concerns in the press that they are not adequately funded and capable of paying claims in the event of a major catastrophe. I’m very glad one of the vendors asked the question.4) The new and I think last year’s RFP which applies to the 2008 Cat claims requires an adjuster not work claims for any other carrier while working Citizens claims. While I can understand that for cat claims where you may have enough work to provide a satisfactory income, I do not understand that requirement for those working daily claims (see RFP 08-0016 and the 08 Q &A for this question) where an independent may not receive enough assignments to provide an income that would justify such dedication to one carrier.5) Also be sure to read the info in the RFP 08-0016 about limited assignments where the inside adjusters will settle the claims with the homeowner. Does this seem strange to anyone else that the adjusters with the least experience (they only require 1 year experience for in office) will be handling settlement negotiations with insureds vs the field adjusters where more experience is required?
 
Here is just one example in a blog I did this year on the fiasco with the 300 Million Dollar claim reserve problem identified this year which I’m sure those working Citizens claims this year will hear about since claim reserves are in the list of job duties for independents-see RFP 08-0016 for that list
 
 
 
 
Here is also a link to the blog we did when the new RFP was released in April 2008:
 
 
And a link to the blog written when they cancelled the Feb 08 RFP with more details:
 
***This blog also addresses Citizens published and  planned reduction in use of independents so there may be less work in the years ahead with Citizens for independents although it’s interesting to note they don’t disclose this information in any of the RFP’s but we found it through the Citizens Task force or Board of Governors meeting notes- the links are in the blog above
 
 
 
In my opinion, adjusters should be utmost concerned about the fines in this years RFP(07-0003 for cat  documents- some are up to $1,000 per violation for such perceived infractions as late reporting to the cat site and improper file handling. While the RFP says the adjusting firm will be fined, many of the independent contracts the past two years seem to be revised or updated to include passing fines on to adjusters though most are not specific about what those fines are so I’d be sure to have a thorough discussion with any adjusting firm you are planning to go out with on that issue. While RFP 08-0016 doesn’t go into the great detail the 07 schedule did, it does have language incorporating the Claim manual which last year I believe included the fine info so I am guessing the fines will be whatever they are in the manual but they say in the new RFP that the manual will be given out to the new vendors once they are awarded so we don’t know the answer to that question but you should get an answer to this from your vendor). I was hoping one of the vendors would have asked about that in the Q & A questions but it is not published with the Citizens answers if so..
 
While it may seem to some that these things are nothing to concern yourself with, let me assure you that is not what Chip Merlin,Attorney of the Merlin Law Group in Miami is posting on his blog here:
 
 
If you look at the Citizens Task Force on Claim Handling that is charged with oversight of the Citizens Claims, Mr Merlin in the June 07 presentation links made a presentation to them on the problems he saw with claims handling in the aftermath of the 4 in 04 and in 05. You’ll see from his new comments his frustration in the results of the task force and his indication he thinks litigation in the aftermath of any new hurricanes will be much the same as the massive litigation our industry has experienced post Katrina (emphasis here mine- go back to Citizens comments on the RFP08-0016 answers about holding them harmless even if a Citizens manager overrides an adjusting firms decision on a claim)..Look at the link to presentations I’ve posted in this reply  to his presentation to the task force in June 2007 and a link to his May 08 blog about his predictions on litigation post any new storm and his expectations about litigation and also note his interesting comment expressing disatisfaction with the work of the Citizens Task Force. If you aren’t familiar with Chip Merlin, he has offices in various locations in FL and has been proactive in litigation on claims in MS with a few offices over there as well .. I think we will see his name quite a bit should a  major storm hit FL as he has been very proactive following the claim problems and ongoing developments at Citizens.Here are a few links to some blogs you should read that are quite interesting on Citizens and his thoughts regarding repeat of litigation,etc:
 
 
 
 
 
Some folks above indicated a wish to be heard by Citizens. If you’ll note in the new RFP- the vendors were strictly prohibited from contacting ANYONE at Citizens to ask questions other than the one designated person taking the questions and answers that were then answered on 5/9/08 with the threat in the RFP that they would be removed from consideration if they contacted anyone within Citizens other than the designated person and prior to the deadline.. While I can understand the need for a contact person for questions to avoid confusion between adjusting firm managers being given different answers, I cannot imagine such restrictions in such a significant business relationship where there is a deadline given to ask questions and such limitations and threats being placed on firms they are asking to handle their business. I’m hoping the vendors were given more opportunities to ask questions at their recent Train the Trainers seminar mentioned in the 5/12/08 email from Citizens that is published on the Evans link above.
 
There are links at the Citizens Task Force which is overseen by the Dept of Insurance with contact information for the task force:
 
 
Here’s a link to a presentation on their website from an adjuster addressing the new FL umpire review that is going on. I had never thought about the fact some independents may be an independent in one state and a public adjuster in another state as this adjuster states in his presentation letter to Citizens. I’d be curious to know how independent adjusting firms would feel about using an adjuster who does both and can imagine how a carrier might feel about this:
 
**Scroll down to the one on Property Insurance Appraisal Umpire Legislation topic in the 2/26/08 presentation links and click on the link to the pdf from Catastrophe Specialist to see this pdf letter he sent in. This link also works to the pdf the Merlin group sent in last year addressing claim handling conerns in the links to the June 7, 2007 presentations on the same link above.
 
 I’m very curious why no where in the presentations by firms is there anything from independent adjusting firms- only from public adjuster groups and attorneys and others but no independent personnel. I can only guess this is because of course they cannot do anything so public for fear of losing an RFP award by upsetting the Citizens Claim Dept.  Also disappointing is the Citizens Claims Dept makes presentations to the Task Force but the latest information I can find on their meetings site is some meetings in Feb  26, 2008…..so where are they in reviewing all of the new RFP revisions and decisions that have gone on since?  Are they even aware of the continual changes Citizens is making to the RFP and requirements of Independent adjusting firms? The Board meeting notes also published on the Citizens site which provide much insight into decisions are continually behind by months so we can’t get any clues there. I wrote the Citizens webmaster about that issue several months ago and the response I got was that they cannot publish the minutes to the Board Meetings until they have been approved which he assured me would be at their next meeting which was months ago and they are still FAR behind in updating them so we can get a glimpse into the decisions going on there although their policy is to publish board meeting notes. The notes they are publishing have really changed as well from actual meeting notes to bullets of topics to be discussed and often not much else and I’m curious why that has changed.
 
I did some additional research looking to see how you would go about contacting some of the task force members directly since you can’t talk to anyone at Citizens and found email or website addresses for many of the board members .I’ll locate that research and post it here if anyone wants that. Right now you can go to the task force link above and find 2 primary contacts and ask them to forward it to all Task Force Board members if you wish. I don’t think we’ll see any improvements until our concerns are addressed to the Task Force which hasn’t happened yet or atleast there is nothing pubished on their presentations link.
 
Your best source is to talk to the vendors who are attending these meetings but I hope the above information atleast answers questions we can find the answers to from the Citizens published documents available to all of us on their website for viewing. I highly recommend adjusters stay up to date with the information being published on the Citizens website so you can consider ALL the facts directly from the horses mouth. We are not a Citizens vendor- just a concerned FL part-time resident with all of my family residing in the state  as well as a FL Independent adjuster who has been contacted by many adjusting firms as well and these constant changes give me GREAT concern about what is going to happen when my family, friends, and residents of FL experience a major catastrophe never mind the potential for problems for independent adjusters servicing their claims.

 

 

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Update 2:50 pm 3/19/08- Citizens has added 2 new documents today to the 08-0016 RFP documents compounding the confusion:

Guess what folks? Citizens has uploaded a new Revised Addendum A dated 5/19/08 and on the $70.00 fee they show it now revised to $700.00 in spite of their Q & A answer that $70.00 was correct which they answered in their 5/9/08 Q and A. It is the last document today on the 08-0016 RFP showing revision to Addendum A revised 5/19/08. They also uploaded a new Q & A dated 5/19/08 yet the answers seem to be the same as in the 5/9/08 Q & A with the same answer to the 70 vs 700 issue saying it is 70.00. So we have two documents new today and they conflict with each other on the issue.Mr Smith- good question on the adjusting firms/adjuster issues. Somewhere in all of these 08 RFP documents, there is a comment about adjusting firms not taking adjusters from other adjusting firms. Most adjusters I know have applied to multiple vendors post all of the 07 online training criteria. So who decides who belongs to which adjusting firm? I know most folks had to list an adjusting firm when they did the online training with their codes but does that hold you to that firm? I have no idea the answers to these questions but if Citizens were smart, they’d add a clarification on this information in one of their sure to be multiple more revisions.

Also- I’d make sure everyone reads the zip documents -especially Attachment J -on RFP 08-0016 for the info I mentioned in first post on the Indemnity clause on litigation and the comments in 4.3 on “no negotiation” on fee schedules. Make sure you also note that in 10.27 on Attachment J that they are going to charge the adjusting firm 15.00 per day for an adjuster  if they work in a Citizens office so that’s about $450.00 per in office adjuster (does this apply to mgmt working in their offices too?) per month.. Before accepting an in office assignment, I’d make sure to check with the vendor to see if you are going to be charged back that fee based on the terms of your independent contract with them. Adjusters are also responsible for providing their own Xactimate(they didn’t clarify which version) so together wouldn’t you be paying well over 600 per month to work for them per month?

 

Next 40 Hour ONLINE LIVE Fundamentals of Claims Class Begins June 2, 2008

May 15, 2008

 We are now beginning a registration list for the next 40 Hour Fundamentals of Claims class which we hope to begin June 2, 2008. It will run on Monday and Thursday evenings from 6-9pm LIVE ONLINE on our ClaimSmentor site. 

 We are registering new members who are interested as well. The class will run Monday and Thursday evenings from 6-9pm CST for four consecutive weeks so we’ll wrap up right before the July 4th vacation week. 

There is an $80.00 fee to take this class which amounts to a minimal $10.00 per 3 hour class as we hold 2 classes per week for 4 weeks. All fees MUST be paid by 5/29/2008 as we will begin posting pre-class reading links for Lesson one on 5/30/08 as well as distributing by email the many self study guides distributed to class participants to use along with the lessons. We have been told many times over by other training groups that we need to raise this price but try to keep it almost to a bare minimum to stand steadfast on our goal at ClaimSmentor to make training available to all adjuster trainees as we try to enhance the image of independent adjusters through our educational efforts. The cost of the class is ridiculously low for the time spent distributing course material, grading pre-class assignments as well as each 3 hour session with LIVE presentations. We could never accomplish so much in one course if it weren’t for the hours and hours spent researching current information found on the web to provide links to reading material on all subjects discussed. Carriers prohibit adjusters from releasing their confidential information so we constantly update information found on the web via lawsuit document pdf’s posted on various sites, news articles, and much more we share with you throughout the course to keep the information up to date and current with each new class.

 Class includes pre-class homework reading assignments as well as pre-class homework. There are a total of 24 hours online instruction and 16 hours of pre-class reading/homework assignments as we figure 2 hours pre-class reading and  homework per lesson. You must attend ALL 8 sessions to receive your 40 Hour Fundamentals of Claims certificate. There is also the option to AUDIT the class only which allows you to attend all 8 sessions and receive the reading material without the need to complete the pre-class homework questions. The cost of the Audit only participation is $50.00. This course covers much needed information that new adjusters have shared is not being covered in many conferences, seminars, and estimatic classes thus many end up having an overall view but not detailed information needed to understand the  processes required to complete a claim file.

Both training options include the self study guides for Contents Claim Handling, Additional Living Expense Claim handling, Actiivity Log-File Requirements-Electronic Claim File Documents self study material, and the self study material on condo master policy claim handling. We cover this information within the classes below as well.

Here’s a breakdown on the 8 sessions but we cover much much more as those that have attended the class can attest to:

I. Career Forum discussion- review of all topics listed in the Career forum on ClaimSmentor through self study pre-class reading assignment links emailed to you prior to class and through discussion in the 3 hour online class on Careers in Claims and options available. Concentration in this first class is concentrated on vendor/adjuster relations and carrier/ adjuster expectations, vendor applications, vendor/carrier relationships and communication. We will also cover vacation and absence requests once you have accepted assignments and “no show” adjusters. This class covers things you very much need to know before you sign independent contracts, errors and omissions coverage, pros/cons of working staff vs independent, info on training school options, adjuster resume recommendations and templates, general terms found in carrier code of conduct forms and much much more regarding careers in claims. Most informative are the discussions on networking opportunities and what associations are available for you to join to enhance your job opportunities.

2.Ethics- class assignment will include a review  of adjuster ethics standards while  dealing with insureds, contractors,and accepting vendor assignments and an online class on ethics discussions while using current hot topics in the news regarding adjusters and carriers as real class examples of issues facing adjusters and adjusting firms in today’s claim environment.  We go over common errors new adjusters make that frequently lead to carrier complaints that lead to adjusters being released from assignments as well as hot topics on dress codes and news topics on adjusting firm ethics as well so you don’t get burned on your first assignments with non payment issues. We will also discuss carrier salvage handling during this session. We cover carrier certification requirements and vendors offering the certification classes for different insurance carriers. Class will include pre-class reading links required as well as a pre-class homework assignment based on the reading material.

3. Catastrophe Claim Mock Disaster Assignment Drill- Organizing/Zoning your file assignments- Items covered include but aren’t limited to organizing your assignments, carrier service standard expectations, carrier quota expectations, tips on working around storm difficulties to meet carrier quota expectations, things to consider when choosing a cat vendor (what will be most profitable for you- there are major differences in the types of assignments), examples of fee schedules and the different types, information on which adjusting firms are handling certification exams for different carriers, severity code, catastrophe coding, and working with the claims/agency relationship as well as discussion on high profile assignments and condo loss handling. This assignment includes our self study research paper on Condo master policy loss handling as well as reading links to much more important info you need to know before going on catastrophe duty.

4. Activity log entries and file documentation requirements- Who would ever think you could spend a 3 hour class discussing activity logs, file requirements, electronic documents, file order,etc but it is a very much needed discussion so you are aware of proper file entries to avoid bad faith. and carrier rejection of your closed assignments. This assignment includes links to many file document samples, a self study research paper with links to forms you will commonly use, a walk through a demo on electronic claim management systems so you can see how they operate, and much more.

5.Insured/Agency communications-/Contents Claim handling- how to properly handle complaint issues from an insured,  insurance department complaint handling, public adjusters and state regulations, communication requirements when attorney is representing an insured, and proper communication standards.You need to know what state mandated language must be on forms and letters and many other rules for properly communicating coverage decisions such as state requirements for mediation options and more. Documenting the file, communicating with the insured in letters and correspondence, much more in depth discussion about investigation methods and an overview of the self study material and reading links on Contents Claim handling.


6. File negotiations- dealing with contractor bids, lump sum bids, and estimate reconciliations.  3 hour class to include extensive details about what you need to be looking for on contractor estimates to resolve differences much more quickly, matching issues, minimum charges, carrier expectations on estimates and  much more covered about common reasons files are rejected and or reopen in this session Six. A must know to work claim files and resolve them to bring them to conclusion! We will also discuss the various building estimatic software programs and training options available to you to acquire this must have training. We do not have time in this course to cover estimatic training but this lesson will open your eyes to carrier expectations on building estimates and how they differ from what you may know from a contractor’s standpoint versus from an insurance carrier damage covered perspective. You’ll know atleast the top 10 problems to avoid on common errors made by new adjusters so you can reduce file rejections upon management review.

 7. and 8. Additional Living Expense Claim Handling- you will receive our self study guide with step by step instructions for handling Additional Living expense claims under residential policies which covers carrier generally accepted standards for ALE loss calculations. Homework will include practice assignments on mock ale situations where you will use actual ALE forms to input your ale decisions we will then go over in class. Lesson 8 also wraps up your questions on all the various assignments during our live training sessions.

Two of the most enjoyable features of the class by all participants is getting to interact LIVE during sessions asking questions and the drop by visitors they can obtain advice from on the evening’s topic when experienced adjusters drop by to help with the sessions.

Here is also a recent blog entry we did with information about the course:

https://dimechimes.wordpress.com/2008/04/23/registration-deadline-42508-for-next-40-hour-fundamentals-of-claims-online-live-class/

If you are interested in the June 2, 2008 class, you will first need to register at ClaimSmentor.Website registration info is found on the About page here on the blog.

You can pay the cost of the course once you have registered online and access our forums.

Note we will present this course in field format classroom training for adjusting firms. Contact us for more information and pricing through our staffing firm, Dimechimes Claims Staffing and Claim Training. All website info on the About page here on the blog.

There is no charge to join ClaimSmentor to just participate in our forums for others interested in joining our online claim mentoring community where we currently have 818 members to include hundreds of experienced adjusters and claim managers as well as trainee adjusters. The ClaimSmentor site is open to all trainee adjusters (staff or independent), experienced adjusters(staff or independent), independent adjusting firm personnel(support through management), and all carrier staff claim and HR personnel. We also welcome vendors who support our industry such as estimate software firms, training firms,etc. The site is not open to public adjusters or attorneys.


Citizens of FL New RFP- Revised TIMES 3!

May 14, 2008

Recall our prior blog on the 2nd Citizens RFP for Daily and Catastrophe Adjusting firms? Here is a link to that blog. That blog was  regarding the 4/22/08 RFP (Request for Proposal) for Adjusting firms wishing consideration to work 2008/2009 claims (date depends on if it is daily or catastrophe assignments as explained in the RFP).

The April 22, 2008 RFP was to replace the one Citizens posted and cancelled earlier in the year. Here’s the link to our earlier blog on the first cancellation if you missed it.

Now- we find that Citizens yet again made a 3rd revision April 28, 2008 which is truly beyond believable that the number one insurer in the state of FL can behave so poorly when getting it together to work with independent adjusting firms who they are counting on to handle the majority of their claims – atleast for now that is (the percentages are reduced over the next few years per documents they have presented to the Citizens of FL Claim Task Force).

Tomorrow I’ll get into concerns with the RFP and their answers to questions presented by adjusting firms they posted on May 9, 2008 which should drive off even the most die-hard claims professionals when they review the answers Citizens posted. You can catch up on these documents by reviewing RFP 08-0016 and the revisions and addendums posted in the right column here:

https://www.citizensfla.com/about/purchasing-current_reqs.cfm


Citizens of FL changes Independent Training Requirements for 2008

May 14, 2008

 

Thousands of independent adjusters participated in the 2007 online training requirements with Citizens of FL so they could handle their claims.

We’ve all been notified by numerous adjusting firms that those requirements recently changed yet again to require face-to -face training versus the online training with the independent adjusters due to the change in requirements by Citizens. Many of the vendor emails state the online training you took in the summer/fall of 2007 will NOT qualify you to work 2008 losses.

Evans Claims has the actual email from the Citizens Interim Catastrophe Director, Mike Schwartz posted on their website here:

http://evansclaims.com/wiki/ECS/FlaCit


Here’s what it says in case it is taken down:
May 12, 2008

Memo To: Citizens Independent Adjusters

From: Mike Schwarz
Interim Claims Director – Catastrophe Operations
Citizens Property Insurance Corporation


RE: 2008 Citizens Training

Representatives from your adjusting firms recently attended this years Train the Trainer workshop. They received important updates to our workflows and processes. During our meeting, we also communicated the requirement that face-to-face training be completed by all independent adjusters for 2008. We understand that this is an additional requirement to previous years and we do appreciate the time and travel that will be involved in completion of this training. This extra step is important for us to validate the quality of training provided to our independent partners. We are committed to providing a high level of customer service to our customers and proper training is critical in the achievement of this goal. We thank you for your efforts over the next several weeks as we prepare for the upcoming storm season.

Thank you,

Mike Schwarz
Interim Claims Director- Catastrophe Operations
Citizens Property Insurance Corporation

******

I double checked the Citizens website and it still has the old online requirement information posted on their Adjuster Resources page here (look at top right hand corner where it says Adjuster Training):

https://www.citizensfla.com/adjuster/index.cfm

We are posting copies of all 46 vendors training emails in our ClaimSmentor Seminars Forums as we receive copies so adjusters know where they can find the training. Thus far, we’ve found classes in many states to include TX, FL, GA, AZ,  CO and several others. Most of the emails we have seen thus far are from vendors offering the training free of charge to independents. Citizens still doesn’t have the website links up for the 46 vendors either and we have posted those in our forums as well. They were difficult to find for many of the firms as they weren’t listed correctly on their award list. For example, CNC-Resource out of Mobile,AL is one of the vendors yet they are listed on the Citizens Award list on the adjuster resource link above (bottom left hand column on that page) as Resource CNC and there are several other errors we found in names. They also never updated the award list with the 46th vendor that later added to the award group.

Many adjusters are in an uproar over the continual changes, fee schedule issues and over the Citizens Q & A answers in response to vendors questions as a result of the new RFP for vendors wishing to work  their claims that was posted 4/22/08  through 5/09/2008 on their purchaing site (click here to view RFP 08-0016 and all addendums and revisions) then once again revised 4/28/08 (this is in addition to the initial RFP posted at the beginning of the year that was cancelled for changes). Can you imagine if they have this  much trouble BEFORE a storm has hit just coming up with vendor requirements what the ever changing issues will be once adjusters do begin to work their claims? The adjusters voicing concern are rightfully doing so!

I haven’t had a chance yet to write the blog on the comparison of the 2008 RFP from the 2007 RFP requirements but they are drastic and I”ll try to get that up within the next couple of days and leave this post to addressing the new training challenges only.

If you wish to join  our claim industry group at ClaimSmenor to view the Seminars Forum for this info, you’ll find the registration link on our About Page here on the blog.