Compare TWIA Manager Jim Oliver’s comments about a major Galveston storm 6/08 to 2/09 Statement on Ike Claims- Part I of II

It is amazing what you can run across on the internet when you just spend some time looking around.  Anyone that follows posts made here knows we certainly do that…if only we could afford a great editor to turn this information into fine editorial posts!

Atleast we plug along the best we can here given very very limited time these days due to my daughter’s medical recovery from tumors discovered in 2008 and subsequent major surgery a few weeks ago to correct damage caused when the tumors shattered nerves and bones as they developed and the radiation damage caused in the aftermath of tumor removal operations. So bear with me  here and take the information and article  links we post here and gather as much information as you can from the articles. Our goal here is very clear to those in the independent claims industry who have a most difficult time when they are not on assignment with carriers gathering hot topic information to educate them on the problems facing our industry. Reporter NOT…Editor NOT..Journalist NOT but interested in helping independent claims adjusters understand our industry…now that is a BIG YES! I sure miss the days with a carrier having a great administrative assistant to take my reports and by magic turn them into professional appearing work product! (Thank you Gail, thank you Cindy and many others!). So set aside your grammar, spelling, and run on sentence checkers and read the professional articles linked within this post.

While researching information today after reading an article from the Galveston news the other day updating the statistics on TWIA (Texas Windpool ) claims from Ike quoting manager Oliver found here, I ran across another article quoting the General Manager at TWIA, Mr Jim Oliver, over at Gene Taylor’s old website/blog here .

I hope you read both- it is almost scary how very dead on he was about the “what if a Category 3 hit Galveston” written in June 08. I have to say that manager had the intuition and knowledge to evaluate the what if’s correctly and what effect it would have on the state of  Texas and the policyholders. He was almost dead on as well about the dollar amount of damage. This is a don’t miss comparison. Do his comments sound familiar about major carriers pulling off the coastal coverage?

A few comments on the first link in the February 09 article found on MS Congressman Gene Taylor’s old blog.

Here we go again about “inexperienced adjusters” quoting from comments by Jim Oliver. I’m sorry but someone has to stand up for those inexperienced adjusters  and independent adjusting firms (whose hands are tied as to who can and cannot attend the carrier training based on experience) who they had working some  of the TX Windpool claims. I am not blaming TWIA .It is a constant problem in the Insurance Company/ Independent Adjusting firm/ Independent Adjuster relationships.

Let me explain why. I feel qualified to do so after founding and supporting our site  at ClaimSmentor where we have over 1,000 partipants with about 50% of them being new independent adjusters. I can tell within 30 days of membership those who are serious about their training and those that thought  it was a “get rich quick scheme” or career because they either 1) walk away and forget the thoughts of a claims career  when they find out how much is really involved BEFORE deploying or 2) they are extremely serious in their pursuit of professional claims development and I see them on the site forums at night and on weekends (you would NEVER find staff doing so if they aren’t on salary or on the clock).

They spend literally thousands  of dollars and time without the benefit of an employers expense account for per diem while attending carrier certification classes, taking required estimate software training classes, adjusting firm conferences, being forced in some cases to pay for training   just to get on rosters in hopes of being deployed on a storm (I’ll post some unbelievable samples for you tomorrow).

Now here is the real kicker that goes on every day in this industry which drives all of us crazy as there is no such thing as a carrier mentoring new independent adjusters. All national carriers and the windpools set a minimum number of years experience  required BEFORE an independent adjuster can sit  in at an independent adjusting firm designated by the  carrier’ to administer  required training for them. The carriers may send one to a few representatives to the adjusting firm selected to present the material but that isn’t always the case either.

It is usually a minimum of two or three years experience required yet the carriers do NOT allow them to take carrier certification exams without the experience….until something major hits and then they often waive the certification requirement if they are licensed. Heck- look at TX emergency adjuster license information  on the TX Ins Dept website and they even allow emergency adjusters to work under an experienced adjuster (unless they changed something recently).

 Also, check around on the majority of carrier websites and you will not even find mention on their claim links  information or links to independent adjusting firms who they can take classes with so independent adjusters  even know who presents them. It is all based on who they  (independent adjusters )  know and what advertisements or forum posts they find as to where they can find an exam to take.

In additon, thousands travel across the country just to find one. I do not know of any carrier yet adminstering them online. Rumor has it one major carrier will be presenting their training on laptops given to the adjusting firm but the independent will still have to travel across the country to watch the laptop presentation and to take the test. We understand the need for a proctor to administer the exam but come on….how about Prometrics or one of the exam centers with national services where adjusters take license exams? How about the fact that an independent has no clue who may call to deploy them from an adjusting firm standpoint so they have to take as many carrier exams as they can complete before each storm season so they can go? What about the fact the carrier’s often think that there are no experienced adjusters available when the reality is there are many many independents who are turned away because they just haven’t taken their exam yet prior to the storm the carrier will not make any common sense exceptions yet they have 20 years in the  claim industry? Believe me this does go on…I hear it from adjusters, adjusting firms, and my claim staffing firm has experienced this many many times.

I am not supporting inexperienced adjusters with a license only…just the inexperienced adjusters who have taken classes (not 3 day schools or worse yet a one day class!)  and by that I mean classes approved by state insurance departments who approve  trainers  for CE courses sometimes requiring  at minumum 5 years or more experience in the m industry person and continuing insurance education in insurace such as the AIC or CPCU designation?  It is one thing to have field adjusted claims and an entirely different thing to manage claims and understand all of the reasons there are file requirements due to Bad Faith claims and the current litigation environment.

Today there are many experienced adjuster resumes from adjusters with 10 plus years experience with a vast amount of litigation experience that can run circles around some carrier “claim examiners”, reinspectors, and entry level claim managers. I hear these war stories too from the field. Why is ok for all the blame about what went wrong on a storm squarely on the shoulders of independent adjusting firms and independent adjusters who are required to follow carrier established guidelines. As the saying goes “if they tell you to staple the photos upside down…don’t argue or we will lose our contract to service their claims”.

Now exactly how are they  (independent trainees ) supposed to gather that experience?

Experienced independent’s do not have time to train them as it slows down their productivity and they do not make one dollar until closed files get approved and they receive payment usually weeks and months later. Believe me, the carrier quotas for contact and inspections in  this industry are sometimes impossible for staff or independent adjuster to meet. The carriers are driven by Department of Insurance deadlines for contact, inspected, and closing numbers and atleast in the past they had to report those numbers at minimum to the department of insurance on a weekly basis. The second concern I hear regularly is that they would be concerned about liability issues if a trainee they aren’t responsible for as an independent fell off of a roof or if the adjuster happened to be involved in an accident while handling inspections on their daily agenda? These are valid concerns. That is why we started ClaimSmentor- to see what we could accomplish online to avoid those concerns and I can tell you – it works and they will be much better trainees when they can accompany a field adjuster later during a storm.

I agree with the decision of carriers to best service the policyholders however….when something major such as Ike or Katrina causes massive damage those requirements are thrown out the window and anyone with a license can successfully deploy without any real life training or often given a one day training seminar when they arrive on site.

How about the carriers that cross train  staff claim central adjusters who have NO field experience versus a good percent of independent adjuster trainees that often have fantastic construction general manager experience, insurance agency experience, or other skills much more easy to work with than trying to train someone on construction.

I can vouch for the fact it is easier to teach a contractor who knows construction and estimate programs to complete claim forms and learn policy than it is to teach an in office phone adjuster who has no construction experience to learn that side of adjusting. I know- I started in office and moved to the field after two years in office so I understand the difficulty dealing with construction training while handling an insured in crisis.

Ask anyone who has deployed with merely a license if an adjuster’s license prepared them whatsoever for a carrier’s file requirements, estimate format or estimate scoping guidelines and they will tell you definitely NOT!

What about the carrier staff adjusters who may not even have a non resident license in that state? Check any insurance department website and see what they have to say about waiving non resident licenses for staff adjusters. Is it because the carrier has deep pockets and independent adjusting firms and adjusters do not in the event something goes wrong or do the insurance departments merely assume the carrier’s have trained all in office folks before deploying them on a major disaster?

 How about the carriers that are forced to use auto adjusters to adjust property claims because their executive office forbids use of independents in these poor economic times and worse yet underwriters who definitely have a great grasp on coverage but no clue how to handle a claim or to understand construction  repair concepts?

This is a nationwide problem with most carrier’s which I have never understood.  If we accept premium dollars do we not owe it to policyholders to have the properly trained claims adjusters?

Hail damage experienced adjusters do not necessarily understand total losses for major hurricane damage or major fire loss damage estimates.

There is alot of improvement needed all around in the catastrophe claims industry on the carrier side , the independent side, the insurance department regulations, and the National Assn of Insurance Commissioner’s who cancelled the proposed National Independent Adjusters Model Licensing Act which those who are independents do not understand to this day. I’ve blogged about that in the past and will post a link to that blog in Part II.

Watch later this week for part two….for tonight- enjoy reading the two articles. You will definitely be quite shocked at Jim Oliver’s correct assessment of what would happen in Galveston.

I’ll also leave you with a link for Slabbed’s  interpretation of this article and TWIA from a consumer perspective written today after I shared a link to the Galveston article with them based on an entirelydifferent  blog discussion we had the day before . You’ll find their blog article here.

You may disagree with Slabbed posts but if you follow them regularly you will atleast come to the understanding they are diligent in their efforts to help slabbed  homeowner’s(those who lost entire home but the slab during a storm) in the fight about homeowner policy exclusions that create the non coverage issues . I feel the same way about Attorney Chip Merlin’s blog entries. If you don’t know Chip…and I have never personally met him..he is a force to be dealt with. He has offices in FL, MS, and now Houston as well.You can also find photos of him giving a seminar at the National Public Adjuster Association conference at www.NAPIA.com.  

 In fact, I link to his  blog often as well for training purposes. Yes, I do understand he represents the insured not the insurer but that does not change the fact we can learn from his articles and blogs when you don’t find any insurance attorney’s writing such great blogs (except Rossmiller who hasn’t blogged for almost 6 months). If an independent or staff adjuster read them such as his posts on Bad Faith…he is “shouting from the roof tops “that would prevent adjusters from being sued if they just followed fair claim handling guidelines. You just have to “toughen up” to read both and have a thick skin so you don’t take the negative comments about the insurance industry as a whole personally. By the way…if you are a Fox news  fan or Headline News  fan it might be, he is regularly interviewed on the horrific missing childrens cases in central FL (Caylee and Haleigh) . You shouldn’t let the negative comments keep you from reading some important information and articles on his website and blog. Both Slabbed and Merlin’s blogs post links to court documents on active insurance claim litigation we all rarely ever get an opportuntiy to view since staff nor independents are privy to file documents on a claim not assigned to them.

 Truth be told, adjusters inheriting files from a few bad apples  (experienced and inexperienced it just depends on the adjuster’s ethics and training) make the same comments about some files involving poor file claim handling by a percentage of adjusters. The only difference is staff and independents cannot post publicly for fear of losing their jobs. It still doesn’t mean we can stick our heads in the sand and not study the issues and all work a little bit harder to do the right thing no matter what pressure we are under and we all know how bad that pressure is on storms such as Ike and Katrina.

I’ve been there and have so much empathy for not only the claims industry but for policyholders suffering these losses with no coverage. I’ll post more on the 2009 Multi Peril Act as well later this week.

Speaking of Attorney’s, what happened to one of the rare great blogs with the insurance company perspective many of us followed over at David Rossmiller’s blog? Those of us who follow these forums and blogs miss the point and counterpoint between the insured’s perspective and the carrier’s perspective! If you know if Rossmiller is ok, let us know! I think his last blog was in September of 2008 which is remarkable considering his opinions posted on Scruggs and Scruggs recent appearance in MS court with no comment from Rossmiller.

********

Update 1:24 am CST- Ok- I just had to add one more great article titled “Talent Cultivation” from a February 09 issue of Claims Magazine found here:

http://www.claimsmag.com/cms/Claims/Monthly%20Issues/Issues/2009/02/Features/FEATURE%20cover%20story?origin=channels-Education-Training

**Link will move to archived links there when the March issue comes out.

When will carriers learn if they are going to depend on independents for major catastrophes as they downsize their staff that they need to make carrier certifications more accessible online and that independent adjusters need to be trained when they don’t have an inbox overflowing with new assignments waiting for them after a storm class on scene. They can have an “A” list of experienced certified independents that are activated on regular hail storms and a “B” list of less experienced independent adjusters also trained and ready to go when the major storms like Ike and Katrina! Now that would be talent cultivation and a claims mentor of the finest nature! We have hundreds of very trained adjusters  as well as experienced adjusters. At ClaimSmentor  you can deploy with NO fee as we invite your HR departments to post job opportunities for both experienced and for trainee adjusters  and independent claim managers and claim examiners regularly!

Join us and come in and download their resumes!  You decide if many of them are better than a newly licensed only trainee!

**Update 2/27/09…Just one more link: Here is a Self Assessment Test with 125 questions a newly licensed adjuster can review and see how many of these topics covered in our Fundamentals Class at ClaimSmentor  and this is far from a complete list of basicessential things they need to know before deploying.

You can’t teach this im a 1 day or a 3 day class. They may learn very very basic essentials but many that take my class online after taking many very good field classes advise that much of this material was not covered. Mind you these are new adjusters who have taken and passed adjusters license exams, estimate software classes, and in many cases have passed atleast 1 carrier certification exam. They usually have the 3 basics at minium (license, software, and 1 carrier certification ) and tests that cover basic estimating but not the majority of these other important topics. Is it any wonder we have files often mishandled due to a lack of training?

https://dimechimes.wordpress.com/2009/02/13/have-license-ready-to-go-not-so-quick-take-this-self-assessment-test/

Carriers should not complain about needing inexperienced independent adjusters not trained on claim file requirements if they are not willing to let them take their training. They pick up the expense as independents. Follow the example of NFIP who allows them to attend their workshops but will not certify them without 4 years experience….but sometimes make exceptions during major disasters IF they took the current year’s workshop.

My many heartfelt thanks go out to the now hundreds of experienced adjusters who participate on ClaimSmentor to help answer trainee questions without any hassle in our forums and even join us sometimes stopping by in our live online classes for trainee adjusters as well as thanks to the claim managers who also do the same. Our site would not be possible without their partipation and willingness to support our e-mentor project.

**Update 2/28/09 10:45 AM: I had not been following the claim statistics that often recently and today ran across an Insurance Journal article form August 08 about the TWIA losses already depleting funds when two other minor hurricanes came in before Ike. Read this link for the information:

http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/southcentral/2008/08/26/93100.htm

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2 Responses to Compare TWIA Manager Jim Oliver’s comments about a major Galveston storm 6/08 to 2/09 Statement on Ike Claims- Part I of II

  1. Dimechimes says:

    We have updated the post above with a new link to an Insurance Journal article of August of 2008 updating the status on the Texas Windpool funds following two storms that came in prior to Ike in 08. It looked dire then. I’ll have to check for more updates now.

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