Excellent info provided by Xeneros about Lessons Learned post Isaac on Louisiana Adjuster licensing issues

September 9, 2012

We had posted a blog with information about Louisiana adjuster licensing as Isaac was approaching the Louisiana coast as the rules regarding working claims in Louisiana had totally changed after Katrina hit which was the last time many independent adjusters had worked there. If you missed that blog, here is the link:

https://dimechimes.wordpress.com/2012/08/27/louisiana-claim-licensing-claim-regulations-breaking-news-more-on-hurricane-isaac/

Xeneros who provides nationwide insurance claims adjuster licensing services for all of your needs has written an excellent blog here outlining problems adjusters, independent adjusting firms, and carriers faced post Isaac landfall as they were unaware of the new licensing procedures in Louisiana.

Great and important information we wanted to share with our readers!


Louisiana Claim licensing, Claim Regulations, Breaking news, more on Hurricane Isaac

August 27, 2012

Here are resources claim professionals will need for working claims in Louisiana for Hurricane Isaac:

Louisiana Licensing Bulletin effective 2010:

http://www.ldi.la.gov/Licensing/Producer/ApplicationInformation.html

**Make sure to see comments on Page 3 of the below

info on emergency adjuster licenses

http://www.ldi.louisiana.gov/Documents/Licensing/Adjuster/BecomingALicensedAdjusterInLA.pdf

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal declares emergency for LA:

http://gov.louisiana.gov/index.cfm?md=newsroom&tmp=detail&articleID=3586

Claim handling legislation for Louisiana as posted on PC360″

http://publish.sbmcloud.com/media/pdf/pc360/claims-guidelines/Louisiana.pdf

Louisiana Windpool known as Citizens of LA website and frequently asked questions (note what it says about your claim being handled by an independent adjuster and home page saying they are closed until 8/31/12- yikes!):

http://www.lacitizens.com/ClaimFAQ.aspx

Greater New Orleans breaking news on Issac through Times-Picayune news at (note this website was well known for it’s consumer blogs on claims during Katrina):

http://www.nola.com/

Here’s an important case you should know about with Louisiana Citizens on the massive class action they lost there as a result of claim handling delays in 2005:

http://news.yahoo.com/louisiana-citizens-loses-state-high-court-fight-202946833.html


Mississippi Adjuster Licensing and Claim Handling Regulations for Hurricane Isaac, News, and More

August 27, 2012

Here are important links claim professionals will need for working Hurricane Isaac claims in Mississippi. We also posted information for Alabama already and will post for Louisiana next:

MS Department of Insurance link for all independent adjuster and independent entity licenses as well as Public adjuster licenses:

http://www.mid.state.ms.us/licensing/adjuster_licensing.aspx

See what Sircon has to say about MS emergency licenses in this post:

http://www.sircon.com/campaigns/emergency-adjusters.html

Mississippi Claim Handling Regulations as posted on PC360.com:

http://publish.sbmcloud.com/media/pdf/pc360/claims-guidelines/Mississippi.pdf

Updated Mississippi Department of Insurance Regulation updates by year to include Arbitration info:

http://www.mid.state.ms.us/pages/laws_bulletins_regulations.aspx

Mississippi’s Biloxi- Gulfport Sun Herald for local news and closures on Isaac:

http://www.sunherald.com/

Mississippi Emergency Management Website:

http://www.msema.org/

Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant’s disaster emergency declaration order for MS as a result of Isaac:

http://www.governorbryant.com/gov-bryant-declares-state-of-emergency-ahead-of-isaac/

Mississippi Windpool Reinsurance info 2012 and info about 41,000 MS Windpool policies:

http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/southeast/2012/05/01/245469.htm

Mississippi Windpool Website:

http://www.msplans.com/MWUA/Index.htm


Florida Attorney Chip Merlin posts information on the Florida Public Adjuster right to Free Speech as FL determines 2008 regulation on immediate contact is unconstitutional

July 6, 2012

Here are two very important blogs by Chip Merlin and at his 2nd blog on Florida Condominium claims announcing that Florida has declared the 2008 regulation delaying the Public Adjuster’s right to immediate policyholder contact unconstitutional.

For complete details:

http://www.propertyinsurancecoveragelaw.com/2012/07/articles/consumer-protection/public-adjusters-win-free-speech-rights-and-ability-to-promptly-help-policyholders/index.html

http://www.condominiuminsurancelaw.com/2012/07/articles/florida/florida-ban-on-public-adjuster-solicitation-ruled-unconstitutional/

 


Two New Class Actions filed against Geico and Progressive Insurance regarding non compliance with state claim handling regulations

April 18, 2012

Our auto claims professionals will be interested in reading these updates posted over at Insurance Class Actions Insider here which indicates two new class actions have been filed against auto insurance companies Geico and Progressive claims involving alleged violations of state claim handling regulations:

http://www.insuranceclassactions.com/auto-insurance/new-auto-insurance-class-actions-against-geico-and-progressive-focus-on-state-law-compliance-issues/


Important changes coming 1/18/12 to Florida Adjuster License appointments and renewals- a must read for FL adjusters

January 16, 2012

Thanks to the Merlin Law group for sharing this update notifying Florida adjusters of upcoming changes at the FL Department of Financial Services regarding Florida adjusters licenses:

http://www.propertyinsurancecoveragelaw.com/2012/01/articles/insurance/important-changes-regarding-adjuster-appointments/


TWIA- Texas Windpool- now offers 5 additional Claims Adjuster workshops in August and September 2011

August 10, 2011

We have just received a notice that Texas Windpool is offering 5 additional claims adjuster certification workshops in August and September 2011.

I am glad to see they are offering some outside of TX for your convenience. The following link also contains the information that you must be registered with one of the firms handling their claims and provides a website link for each firm.

It is my hope that you will consider the adjusting firms on that list who are ClaimSmentor sponsors which are Eberl Claims  and Crawford and Company (their KMConDemand.com) is also one of our sponsors. Four other names on the list are proactive participants on ClaimSmentor to include CNC-Resource, Pacesetter Claims, Wardlaw Claims, and NCA group.

Click HERE for the workshop and adjusting firm contact information. Please be sure to tell them you heard about this through ClaimSmentor since they are members too! We appreciate it!


Join the Southern California Inland Empire Claims Association for their CE Summer School Seminar July 13-14, 2011

June 1, 2011

Here is an excellent opportunity for California Insurance adjusters to earn CE credits through the southern California Inland Empire Claims Association CE Summer School. Claims Associations also provide an excellent opportunity to network with others in the claims industry and to learn about local claim job opportunities.

For complete details on the summer school program they are hosting view this link from them:

http://scclaimsassociation.com/educational_workshops.html

Another great bit of information learned from Linkedin groups!


Claim numbers reported thus far as a result of April 2011 Tornado damage

May 9, 2011

AIR is reporting 65,000 claims reported thus far in Alabama as a result of the April 2011 tornado damage with an estimated 3.7 to 5.5B in damages according to this  PropertyCasualty360 report. There is also a May 6, 2011 Press Release from the Alabama Department of insurance verifying these numbers and indicating that 2,000 adjusters had already arrived in their state with more expeced.

The comments made by Jim Loveland, President and CEO of Xactware Solutions  in this April 28, 2011 CEO  blog also indicate access to XactAnalysis is up to an all time high record up 60% over 2010 numbers due to the April storms. View his complete blog post here.

Missouri Insurance Regulators are quoted as stating 7,000 homeowner and auto claims had been filed as of May 2, 2011 as a result of the tornado in St Louis, MO in this article which provides a breakdown on the claims reported there.

One of the most interesting updates on the tornado damage is found in this May 9, 2011 report by NOAA updating the April 2011 tornado and fatality numbers. You will also find this Huffington Post article excellent as far as providing historical information on US history and indicating these twisters were the 2nd deadliest in US history.

We were not able to locate numbers on the TN claims and MS claims but will update the blog as numbers come in.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the adjusters working these claims full of emotional issues for homeowners and residents who have suffered severe damage and loss of life in their communities and families.

Update Tuesday 5/10/2011: Georgia and Mississippi Claim Statistic info is now added in this link.


Special Announcement- KMConDemand Announces Release of the Property Technical Certification I Program for all Property Claims Adjusters

January 11, 2011

I am very excited to release the following announcement from KMConDemand executive, Colm Keenan announcing the release of the PTC1 designation program -Property Technical Certification I-now available to all property adjusters. I highly endorse this program and am a firm believer that all independent adjusting firms should require any adjuster they deploy to take and successfully complete this program to set your firm apart from others by having TESTED adjusters on assignments. I cannot express how highly I believe in this after being involved in ClaimSmentor and working with thousands of adjusters. It is far past time independents have an opportunity to not just attend seminars and obtain CE’s but to test to prove their competency to handle claims.

Without further comment- here is the complete announcement released with the permission of KMConDemand:

KMC On DemandSM, Advisory Committee Roll Out Property Technical Certification

 

Crawford KMC On Demand, a leading online provider of continuing online education and CE credits for insurance claims adjusters, in collaboration with  a key insurance industry advisory committee have released the first Property Technical Certification (PTC) course to the insurance industry.

PTC is designed to fill a gap in validation of expertise among property claims adjusters. The launch of PTC I – Elements of Property Loss follows the successful conclusion of a pilot program conducted during summer 2010. “The PTC pilot participants gave high marks to the content and relevance of the courses,” said Colm Keenan, vice president of knowledge management for KMC On Demand.

A Property Advisory Committee (PAC) made up of high-level professionals from insurance companies, independent adjusting companies and contractor networks has been working together for more than two years to establish the PTC. The pilot program included an industry-wide collaboration on technical content.

The PAC members include:

Allstate, Ace, Alacrity, Assurant, Aviva Canada, Claims Mentor, Contractor Connection, Crawford, Custard Insurance Adjusters, Cypress Insurance, Dri-Eaz, Fireman’s Fund, Fox Valley Technical College, Liberty Mutual, Metlife, Nationwide, Pilot Cat,  and SimSol.

PTC II will be released in the fall of 2011 with PTC III following in 2012. There are 12 courses in PTC I which consists of 38 modules. Each module costs $15 if purchased individually while the whole first designation can be bought for $425, a 25% savings. All courses have been approved for ce credits in all states that mandate adjuster ce’s. Courses are accessed and completed at www.kmcondemand.com/ptc .

Why PTC? Simply put, PTC fulfills a pressing need in the property and casualty industry. Everyone who has touched this project, from the largest insurers to the small independents, agrees on this one point: it’s about time.

First, it is very difficult to determine the expertise of adjusters, and even harder to predict their future performance. But though having knowledge is no guarantee of performance, not having knowledge is a guarantee of failure. It is impossible to perform well in our industry without the proper technical knowledge. Industry post-Katrina performance reviews were lukewarm at best, due in great part to a lack of property claim-handling knowledge. Though some companies might have commendable training, as an industry, we do not.  

Patrick Milone, vice president of the Property Services Division of Custard Insurance Adjusters Inc., sees the PTC “as a way to keep adjusters current in all property aspects of the claims arena via training by an accredited resource.” Milone also considers the compliance aspect of PTC to be important, as all courses have been approved in every state that requires adjuster continuing education.

The resource Milone refers to above is KMC On DemandSM, part of Crawford & Company, which has a long history of claims training. KMC technology enables the PTC to record user completions and provides an attractive interface for the learner. Each course in the PTC has a corresponding performance support file that is easily accessible and has vital information to assist the adjuster long after the course is completed. Performance support files will be regularly updated as they become the industry technical resource of record. Passing an exam becomes the beginning, rather than the end, of the PTC experience. 

The next advent in the progression to industry certification is individual insurance company certification. The first insurance company in line to do this with KMC/PTC is MetLife. This will enable independent adjuster’s online industry certification, PTC, and individual carrier certification. More insurance carriers will added to this list throughout 2011.

To purchase PTC I go to www.kmcondemand.com/ptc or contact Elise Quadrozzi at elise_quadrozzi@us.crawco.com .


BP Claim Information Updates through Sunday June 20, 2010

June 20, 2010

The national news is just full of information regarding the status on BP oil claims so I wanted to take a few minutes tonight to post links to some information independent claims adjusters and adjusting firms will be interested in tonight.

First, Worley Adjusting Company  now has information posted on their website that due to the overwhelming number of applications they received, they are temporarily no longer accepting any new applications. View their complete statement here.

Second, the rumor throughout independent adjusting circles is that a second adjusting company has now been deploying adjusters for BP assignments. Here is a link to the GAB Robins website. We have not been able to confirm this directly over the weekend but have heard  this from numerous adjusters. ***Update Monday 6/21/2010- GAB has now confirmed that they are handling and the contact there is the Columbia, SC office- Mr Hubbard. There is a link on their site to office locations for specific info there.

It is our understanding that both firms are paying independent adjusters ( and others with experience unknown) on a daily rate PLUS per diem on an incurred basis for temporary housing. This is a great thing on the housing allowance as insurance companies make no consideration for temporary housing for independents. They provide temporary housing only for staff adjusters. The long term experienced adjusters say the amount of the daily rate is not enough as far as they are concerned in comparison to billing on catastrophe large losses and commercial claims so they are telling me they would not be interested in these BP assignments. Rumor also has it that GAB is paying on an hourly rate plus per diem. The amount I’ve seen would come to slightly more than the daily rate Worley is paying if the amount I was told is accurate.

We will all see how they feel after a major catastrophe as most independents are very displeased with insurance companies reducing fee schedules while at the same time drastically increasing file requirements which I’m hearing on the average take an experienced independent adjusters on average about two more hours per claim to close a file and get management approval.

Should this be the case. this is a good indication that possibly many more independent adjusters will be deployed to assist with the now 61,000 claims of which BP is stating they now have while only about 31,000 of these BP claimants have now been issued an advance.  Here is a link to the June 19, 2010 BP report advising they now have 33 claim offices set up with 1,000 people working in the claims offices. I’d like to say they are all licensed adjusters but I can’t verify that and have heard from some of the adjusters who are deployed that there were unlicensed people in their induction meetings. In CEO Tony Haywards prepared testimony to Congress on page 8 he stated as of that date that 700 adjusters had been deployed and states 600 of those were experienced.

  To compare this assigned adjuster response to hurricane season, I wrote a blog the other day showing that over 12,000 emergency adjuster licenses had been issued in 2005 and over 17,000 in 2004 in FL alone. This does not take into account the regular permanent licensed adjusters and the non resident adjusters who worked those 2 hurricane seasons in FL. Here is also a link to an article post Hurricane Ike on the number of claims adjusters assigned in TX.

The same 6.19.2010 BP update above also states BP has received about 84,000 calls into their call center. Now compare this to news coming out of Houston where the BP call center is set up quoting them as having received over 200,000  calls about claims and quoting some of the 100 BP phone operators as saying the call center is just a diversion and the calls go nowhere . See this second article  by Huffington Post with video quoting a BP operator  as well saying the call center is just a diversion.

Florida Insurance Commissioner, Alex Sink, who is currently running for Florida Governor also jumped into the act on BP claims per these articles  here and here coming out of the Pensacola, FL area where she went into the Pensacola, FL BP claims office with a claimant and news camera in tow. The part I surely do not understand about that is that BP is self insured first of all but secondly that the article says the claimant was attorney represented so I am not sure why the claims manager even talked to the claimant if his attorney was not present. She next met with a group of business owners in Pensacola to discuss their problems with the BP claims office. I do in fact hope that the insurance commissioners do get involved and that only licensed independent adjusters are able to handle these claims. It is a disservice to all BP claimants to have to work with “claims processors” as Tony Hayward called them when testifying to Congress yet I am not sure that these “claims processors” must be licensed if  BP is self insured.

According to an article about Katie Couric’s interview with Ken Feinburg, it states that $600M in claims have been filed and $71M has been paid out. Friday he promised legitimate claims would be paid within 30-60 days:

“Kenneth Feinberg was chosen to oversee the $20-billion compensation fund promised Friday to pay all legitimate claims quickly – in 30 to 60 days. He spoke with CBS News anchor Katie Couric from Baton Rouge, La.”

For those of you in the claims industry….wouldn’t that be quite a feat? Lawsuits still are being filed in TX over hurricane IKE weekly and we are just approaching the statute of limitiations ( deadline period to file lawsuits on property damage) in FL from hurricane Wilma. The part especially misunderstood about this is how in the world can claims be settled within 60-90 days as stated when they do not even expect the escaping oil to finally be capped until sometime in August and by all reports that is a BIG if !  

Most importantly is that you see this Katie Couric video interviewing the newly appointed Ken Feinburg  who will oversee the $20B BP escrow account announced last week by President Obama. It is very helpful for understanding their planned claims process between the BP escrow account and the 1990 Pollution Act claims process these claims were originally solely being processed under. Also view this CBS news article outlining important other traumatic disaster cases Ken Feinburg has handled to include settlements with the victims family for 9/11 and the Virginia Tech shooting case settlements.

This next Bloomberg article  gives the case citations which says in part:

“The multidistrict case is In re Oil Spill by the Oil Rig “Deepwater Horizon” in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20, 2010, U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation, MDL-2179, Washington. The dispersants case is Parker v. Nalco Co., 2:10- cv-01749, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana (New Orleans).”

CNN tonight was interviewing a gentleman providing warning about BP job scams and other warnings about firms showing up to offer to help you for a fee which is not necessary. I in fact ran across something that really bothered me tonight just researching for this claims update. To see it for yourself, go to www.bp.com/claims which is the official site for BP announcements. Remembering the exact website for this incorrectly, I first entered www.bpclaims.com and to my surprise it is a public adjusting firm website that defaults and moves you seamlessly to www.publicadjuster.com . I didn’t even bother to read the public adjuster site but my thinking was how bad that is that some innocent claimant would think that they were designated to handle BP claims which is not the case or atleast I have not heard that BP has hired any public adjusters to handle their claims.

**Additional info added  6/21/2010- I meant to include the following link to a Bloomberg article explaining the 232 class action lawsuits on BP claims will be moved/handled by 1 appointed judge:

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601102&sid=aljqY7Nv_AzA

Well, I intended to spend a few minutes updating on the claims status as of 6/20/2010 and now hours later I’ll wrap it up with a  link  to my blog with a prayer and a song to all Gulf Coast residents and recovery workers and adjusters working these claims as promised that I would end every BP blog with this prayer for them:

https://dimechimes.wordpress.com/2010/06/15/eternal-father-strong-to-save-a-prayer-for-americans-during-the-bp-gulf-coast-oil-spill-recovery-open-letter-3-to-president-obama-and-admiral-thad-allen/


Let’s Compare Florida’s 2004 & 2005 Bad Hurricane Seasons with the Current Number of BP claims as of 6/12/2010 and Currently deployed Claims Adjusters- Part II- Open Letter to Obama and Admiral Allen

June 14, 2010

The news as you know is just full of news organizations analyzing BP response to the claims resulting from the Deep Water Horizon oil spill disaster.

It might help, without throwing accusations around,  to just compare a few numbers and several major differences between the disastrous 2004 and 2005 hurricane season in Florida and the Gulf Oil spill numbers as of  yesterday, June 12, 2010.

Let’s look at this  article  dating back August 2008 by the Florida Insurance Council. The article  states in part that:

” The Department’s Bureau of Licensing issued 17,488 Emergency Adjuster licenses for the four-storm 2004 hurricane season and 12,284 Emergency Adjuster licenses during 2005. Florida was again impacted by four hurricanes that year, but most of the damage was from Hurricane Wilma. In addition to adjusters working with emergency licenses, hundreds, if not thousands, of resident adjusters handled claims from the 2004/2005 hurricanes. “

Keep in mind that they are talking about emergency adjuster license numbers only. This does not include FL resident independent adjuster licenses, FL non resident independent adjuster licenses, nor staff adjusters (those who work directly for the carrier as employees) so you can just imagine how many more thousands of independents and staff adjusters just FL required in 2004 and 2005. Now add the Katrina claim statistics and number of adjusters also out working in 2005. Louisiana did not have adjuster licensing in 2005 so I’m not sure where I can get the 2005 statistics on Katrina as a comparison.

Emergency adjuster licenses are temporary licenses  that allow a non resident adjuster to work in the issuing state without an adjuster’s license in that state. The other way to work out of state is to obtain a permanent non-resident license. In addition, of course, we have permanent resident licenses. Normally, if your state of residence requires a resident license, FL and other states requiring an adjuster’s license will allow you to work for a short period of time in the disaster zone under an emergency license. These are typically only approved by a state department of insurance once a Governor has Declared a state of emergency. They are normally good for anywhere from 60-120 days and can be renewed if the state licensing department extends the deadline. The limiting factor is an adjuster operating under a temporary emergency license can only work claims for a particular declared disaster. They cannot be utilized to work non disaster related losses.

Recent trends have carriers, thus independent adjusting firms, requiring adjusters obtain a number (usually 7-15 different storm prone states) of non resident licenses. The reason being that the carrier can deploy an out of state adjuster into a state when there is NOT a Disaster Declaration by the state Governor should they have a permanent non resident license. The advantage is they can be deployed out of state to help with the smaller storms like small hail storms and the like. Worley adjusting company who is the firm appointed by ESIS to handle the BP oil spill claims and their site on the home page  shows a typical example of the non resident licenses required of independent adjusters. Each non-resident license requires a fee typically about $65.00 and reporting on CE so this is a large burden and expense for independent adjusters.

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners had proposed a Model  Independent Adjusters license back in 2007. While we were all hopeful it would be adopted by state insurance commissioners, the NAIC committee looking in to it later scrapped the proposed recommendation. What a darn shame considering what we are facing today handling BP oil spill claims along multiple gulf coast states. It is needed for more prompt deployment of adjusters during major disasters rather than having delays caused by waiting on emergency adjuster licenses. Adjusters seem to think the issue is the fees acquired by each state are substantial considering the thousands upon thousands of resident, non resident, and emergency licenses each year. However,  it was not to be. The American Association of Independent Claims Professionals, AAICP still has the documents up on their site  to include their letter to NAIC requesting they reconsider passing of this model act. The Winter 2010 newsletter on AAICP’s site  provides an update on adjuster and producer national licensing and where we stand today on this pending model act for a national license. It cannot be passed too soon as far as independent adjusters are concerned. I also wrote about the independent adjuster license issues in this blog in July 2007 when NAIC cancelled further recommendations for the act and here in my “Who Moved my Claims Cheese” blog.

Should time permit,  look back on my blog “ Are Independent Adjusters a Dying Breed or Fungible Billing units ” ? This is definitely applicable SHOULD BP/Esis or others be placing non licensed adjusters in BP or ESIS claims offices. I should definitely hope this is NOT happening. Those I’ve talked to this week that are being deployed atleast by Worley  have all been very seasoned experienced adjusters who have been highly complimentary of  Worley’s induction and training process prior to deploying them to ESIS claims offices (ESIS is the insurance company for BP as explained in other blogs here the past two weeks).

Going back to my open letter to President Obama and Admiral Thad Allen, I still recommend some kind of emergency order be made waiving non resident emergency licenses as long as it can be documented that an adjuster is properly licensed in their home state. In cases where a state does not require an adjuster’s license like Tennesee  and Colorado,(this is unimaginable), most independent adjusters have obtained a Texas or FL non resident license so they can then apply to multiple other states who will accept those non resident licenses to then provide them a reciprocal license in their state.  See info in this blog about Model Independent Adjuster Act recommendations for immediate implementation as a further suggestion to improve the BP Oil Spill claims process.

Now let’s move to look at the deaths and damage from the 2004 and 2005 hurricane seasons:

2004: click here 

This says in part:

“The season was notable as one of the deadliest and most costly Atlantic hurricane seasons on record in the last decade, with at least 3,132 deaths and roughly $50 billion (2004 US dollars) in damage.”

2005: click here

The initial sentence outlines the 2005 damage and death statistics as follows:

“The 2005 Atlantic hurricane season was the most active Atlantic hurricane season in recorded history, repeatedly shattering numerous records. The impact of the season was widespread and ruinous with an estimated 3,865 deaths and record damages of about $130 billion (2005 USD).”

Also, it is very interesting to look back at this Insurance Journal article on “Lessons learned from the 2004 hurricane season“. In spite of the horrible hurricane seasons of 2004 and 2005, what we are facing as a nation and as adjusters is unprecedented. This is due to several factors and many potential unknowns as this oil spreads along our coastal communities:

1  )  Hurricanes, for the majority of claims, are first party claims meaning they are claims to an insured’s property. The insured has signed an insurance contract with an insurance company while the oil spill cases are considered third party liability claims meaning that one party is responsible for the damages to another if their actions are the proximate cause of the third party (non contract) has suffered as a result of their negligent actions.  Adjusters from the BP side of claims do not have policy terms in the contract to fall back on such as “An Insured’s Duties after a Loss” in the Conditions section of a first party policy. We will be at the mercy of following directions for handling these liability claims from the instructions of ESIS and I guess BP. In addition, Admiral Thad Allen and President Obama have their hands necessarily involved in this national disaster so we just do not know how the claims handling will proceed or these claims will be settled. There are many acts such as pollution acts, EPA clean water acts, and many more that control what type of damage BP is responsible for. We’ll expand on that information in a later blog. Many of these requirements are far outside the typical experience adjusters have so leadership direction is crucial for training adjusters unfamiliar with handling oil spill damage and losses.

2) Hurricane losses may take a very long time to settle  depending on the amount of damage to a property and the period it will require to restore the property. These BP claims on the other hand are going to be continuing open claims with a long period of time in pending status. We do not have a known “period of restoration” for the clean up in the gulf coast, we have no definite date as to when the oil will stop entering the ocean, we do not know what hurricane season may bring as far as further moving the oil contamination and disperants inland, it is unknown what illness and bodily injury will be related in the long term to the disperants or for that matter how it will affect properties.  We do not know the ramifications of the oil spill on ripple effects as businesses close, lost income for the gulf coast workers and now the oil rig workers who may be laid off now that off shore drilling is being addressed by President Obama and a six month moratorium on off shore drilling.

3) Even insurance companies may be suffering greatly this hurricane season as massive numbers of independent adjusters may be deployed to handle oil spill claims and not be available as expected for hurricane season (whoa to those carriers 80% or more whose catastrophe plan relied in the majority on independent adjusters).  Unless they become reasonable in their fee schedules and consider paying a daily per diem, they are going to have a very tough time competing for independents getting per diem and a good daily rate on the BP oil spill claims as insurance companies do not normally pay per diem allowances for independent adjusters.  The other consideration independents will have to make are whether they are willing to walk away from a long term BP assignment to go for a month or two of  wind losses for an insurance company especially given that those hurricane losses may require exposure to oil and disperants when inspecting field losses. No amount of pay can make up for exposing yourself to the possiblity of  permanent damage or death from these unknown exposures. The paid statistics on claims for BP claims does not mean these claims are settled. Far from it, from most news sources, claimants are very unhappy that $2,500 and  $5,000 advances is what they have received thus far.

4) In addition, this update on the Deep Water Horizon response site  shows that Admiral Allen has issued instructions for BP claimants unhappy with their BP claim to notify the Coast Guard. What????? Will the coast guard then be just passing these complaints on to the ESIS claims offices handling the BP claims or will they then just pass them on to the Departments of Insurance who normally handles complaints on insurance claims for insureds (yet again we are dealing with claimants here). I haven’t seen any instructions from the insurance company side on how they are going to deal with this but they need to know while they have time in their disaster planning before a hurricane hits.

5) On the same link in #4 above,  near the bottom, you will find Admiral Thad Allen’s new Media Access requirements in this Media Access pdf strongly encouraging media access and prohibiting  responders from denying access to the press unless they would be endangered in a prohibited area. Will this change insurance companies Code of Conduct forms adjusting firms and adjusters must abide by to allow media discussions by adjusting firms and adjusters  with the media which are also prohibited as oil spill workers alleged they were prohibited by BP for responding?  Something else to be reviewed by insurance company attorneys before a major hurricane hits this season.

 I cannot even begin to list all of the effects and costs incurred by claimants (third parties) with their loss of property values in areas seriously impacted by oil. This weekend, we saw a new for sale sign up at the beach here in Jacksonville that said “Marshfront” property for sale. I told my husband it might as well have shouted ” swamp land for sale due to looming oil spill expected to make the bend up the east coast of Florida” because I cannot even imagine an interested buyer until we know if oil will or will not make it’s way to the Florida east coast.

The trauma on all Americans, especially those on the gulf coast, are real. Even for those of us far from the current and ever spreading damage, it is traumatic just watching the wildlife covered in oil and tar, the grown men crying outside of their homes, offices, and claim centers. God be with them all and with the adjusters working at the claim offices and also those that are going to be handling hurricane losses should a major hurricane make landfall in any of these zones.

The June 09 2010 update by Huffington post  on BP claims states that  18,000 claims have been paid, and $84 million  has been paid out. It does not provide the total numbers  of claims received thus far. According to this article, only 600 adjusters were currently working in claims offices. No wonder this article quotes a policyholder saying they have called numerous times and get no answer on the phones! Look back and compare this to the 2004 and 2005 numbers just for Florida  where over 10,000 emergency licensed independent adjusters worked both of those years not counting thousands more deployed who were staff adjusters and you decide……..how would you rate the BP claims response on as of  today? This updated article found on the BP website  dated 6/14/10 states a total of 51,000 claims received and about 26,000 payments made totalling $62 million dollars. There is no mention in the current update on the number of currently deployed adjusters since the 6/9/10 stats I had above.

Make sure to read this  this article by www.Money.CNN.com indicating predications are that BP will spend between 3 billion and 40 billion in their response to this disaster while at the same time predicting Florida alone will have a 10.9 billion dollar economic loss along with potential for the loss of 195,000 jobs. The current top prediction at 40 billion is just 10 billion shy of the cost of damages in the 2004 hurricane season and about one third of the damage costs in the 2005 hurricane season thus far. 

Reuters news service is reporting that President Obama will require BP open an Escrow account when they meet June 16, 2010  to meet their obligations on claims. Here’s the link to this story.

God be with us all. Amen.

It is now 2:35 am ET so it will be tomorrow after A.M.  liability classes before I can go back and review this for grammar, etc so bear with me.

 


Special Announcement- KMConDemand in Final Phases of Property Technical Certification Testing for Adjusters- Will we finally get 1 Certification Test?

June 10, 2010

It sure has been tough holding this back from everyone for the past several months.

You all know I have alot of respect for one of  our sponsor ‘s KMConDemand the online training arm of Crawford.  In fact, I had my husband take their package training  program- I think it was called Charter program and it was only$ 135.00 and gave him 5 WC classes, 5 Auto, and 5 property classes and then he sat through my Fundamentals of Property claims which covered other issues on insurance department complaints, agency relationships, claims negotiations and much more on and off since he is a newly licensed adjuster in 2009.

Several months ago,  KMConDemand, brought me in on a committee for the new proposed Property Technical Certification program with our  hopes this will replace all carrier certifications independents are having to take one day. It can’t be one day too soon as far as I am concerned. I understand the important need to certify for a carrier so they know you are competent to handle their claims and for the protection of their policyholder’s. However, what independents currently deal with is traveling to locations nationwide for basically the exact same kind of certification on construction, estimating, with really the only major difference being the carrier specific policy information. I am so hopeful this will change the way this is done- once you’ve tested that you have all the property knowledge on the estimating skills needed- wouldn’t it be so easy if the carrier’s would approve acceptance of this then just a policy quiz and estimating guidelines they want specifically?  To me the present process with carriers seems like someone telling you to sit for the AIC- Associates in Claims program a zillion times. If you have a well carrier / KMC proctored exam ONCE it would be simply heaven.

That would be exactly what I do on our Fundamentals of Property adjusting course ( 10 lessons on other property topics outside of estimating and scoping) where we teach them carrier requirements in general but always advise them to take the material I’ve trained them on and add notes at each assignment to alter any minor carrier deviations for a particular storm.

This is just in the committee phase and testing  just started on the certification this June. He is also in the process of obtaining CE’s in numerous states which I don’t think you get now on certification tests from any carriers.

As you will see on the committee members link, I am honored to be included. They  allowed me to bring some other ClaimSmentor members who could bring valuable critique of the proposed material as well. Thus  you will also see Woody Britton, twice past President of NACA, Eric Gilkey- head editor of Claims Magazine, and Dr Michael Birzon head of the UCF Insurance school as well as some others  I am not at liberty to disclose yet . I am very thankful these valued members all agreed to serve on the committee as well. Here is a link to all of the other committee members as well:

http://www.Kmcondemand.com/ptc

*Look at the carrier execs on the list as well as major players in the Independent management side

Thankfully, I think some of the 3 day school issues will be history by next year and hopefully the requirements  that you have to take so many individual carrrier certification tests.
 
The new Property Technical Certification program is presently  in  the testing phase  now through August through KMConDemand the online training arm of Crawford and Company. This is to go live in September now that minor questions are resolved on proctor issues and other things.  There are 3 different certfication levels similar to the Xactimate Level 1,2, and three.
 
Just take a look at the committee list with executives from major carriers on the committee as well as major players from large independent firms. I post this link with the permission of the head of KMConDemand since I now have approval to release the information:
 
http://www.kmcondemand.com/ptc              This link has all the info on the current plans consisting of PTC 1, PTC 2, PTC 3  agendas.
http://www.kmcondemand.com/ptc/index.php?Page=dynamic&id=66  * This link has the link to all committee members.
 
The material is outstanding and a far cry from some of the problems adjusters complain of at outside vendor schools.  I am most hopeful the insurance carriers agree to this replacing all of the individual carrier certifications so we anxiously await the testing period results  at the end of August 2010 so this can go live.
 
My husband is a newly licensed adjuster so I got to watch while he did the classes when I had time for the regular series of online classes. They had 15 programs at that time and I think have now added 6 more. For  $135.00, he was able to take 5 classes in WC, 5  in auto and 5 in property. All contained CE’s.
 
I have  been 100% sold on them since. I am also glad they are backed by Crawford who we all know has an outstanding reputation. Colm knows I’m probably his biggest fan and thrilled at what KMC has brought for such a reasonable cost to independents saving their travel costs. In addition, as a claims manager it brings me much comfort or safety net if you will to know they will be tested and the passing standards are high as well as proctored exams.
 
This should take us a long way in helping improve the public perception and carrier perception of independent adjusters. Can you also just imagine how great this will be for independents no longer having travel costs to certify for multiple vendors and do these online. I’m sure keeping my fingers crossed for the independents that this does succeed and hope you will as well.
 
Thankfully, I think some of the 3 day school issues will be history by next year and hopefully the requirements that that you have to take so many individual carrrier certification tests.

 
http://www.kmcondemand.com/ptc This link has all the info on the current plans consisting of PTC 1, PTC 2, PTC 3  agendas.
 
http://www.kmcondemand.com/ptc/index.php?Page=dynamic&id=66  
 * This link has the link to all committee members.
 
The material is outstanding and a far cry from some of the problems adjusters complain of at outside vendor schools.  I am most hopeful the insurance carriers agree to this replacing all of the individual carrier certifications so we anxiously await the testing period results so this can go live.
 
This should take us a long way in helping improve the public perception and carrier perception of independent adjusters. Can you also just imagine how great this will be for independents no longer having travel costs to certify for multiple vendors and do these online. I’m sure keeping my fingers crossed for the independents that this does succeed and hope you will as well.
 
Speaking of that- I hope you will share this blog post as well as the link below with other independents. We are trying to move mountains in getting BP to use more independent firms. Thanks so much to the claims managers and adjusters who have read it and written to let me know they have sent the link to politicians and news connections asking they get the word out that independents are the solution to clean up the BP Oil spill claims process:
 
https://dimechimes.wordpress.com/2010/06/07/an-open-letter-to-admiral-thad-allen-president-obama-white-house-news-correspondents-esis-insurance-and-all-involved-in-the-bp-oil-response-we-can-help-address-your-claims-concerns-lead-follow/
 
************

 
Speaking of that- I hope you will share this blog post with other independents. We are trying to move mountains in getting BP to use more independent firms. Thanks so much to the claims managers and adjusters who have read it and written to let me know they have sent the link to politicians and news connections asking they get the word out that independents are the solution to clean up the BP Oil spill claims process:
 
https://dimechimes.wordpress.com/2010/06/07/an-open-letter-to-admiral-thad-allen-president-obama-white-house-news-correspondents-esis-insurance-and-all-involved-in-the-bp-oil-response-we-can-help-address-your-claims-concerns-lead-follow/


Outstanding article by the President of the CA Assn of Independent Adjusters on Fee Schedules Contributing to Independent Adjusters leaving the Industry

May 16, 2010

I ran across this newsletter from December 2008 in the California Association of Independent Insurance Adjusters December 2008 newsletter which is the best written article  I’ve come across discussing a topic of great importance to all Independent adjusters which is the perception/reality that carriers no longer are treating independent adjusters as independents. Specifically, it addresses the change in fee schedules and billing procedures as well as the fact this is driving off the independent adjusters from this business. Great job to the then President -Pete Vaughn- for putting this President’s message together.

I think every conversation I have with a claim manager and/or adjuster these days always turns to the problem with fee schedules. Among the rumors folks have shared with me- some I can confirm- some are rumors at this point as far as my knowledge goes- include a state carrier requiring adjusting firms to offer a 5-10% discount off of the CARRIER fee schedule to be a selectee on an RFP (ludacrist!), rumors about carriers reducing THEIR fee schedule by large percentages in 2010 allegedly due to the glut in numbers of adjusting firms, and probably the largest complaint is that the insurance companies are putting out RFP’s for adjusting firms to bid for their work and agreeing to one price based on one set of terms such as limited assignments and now requiring more file requirements and more be done and expecting it to be done for the reduced fees a firm may have agreed to. In addition, when an insurance company brings on too many firms, this limits the number of assignments one firm may get. This does not give an independent adjuster enough files to even justify the monthly cost of estimate software to work daily (non- catastrophe claims).

On top of the fee schedules being reduced, independent qualification criteria is much more costly for attending the ever growing number of carrier certifications which requires independents incur travel and lodging expenses to attend these tests. The second major change in the past few years is the requirement for independents to acquire and maintain up to 15 non resident licenses which I hear are costing them about 1,000 for the fees if they do obtain them all in the gulf coast states. While it makes sense to obtain the non resident licenses from the standpoint an adjuster can be used for cat and non cat claims even when an emergency has not been declared in a state with a smaller storm yet there is a reason that states have emergency adjuster licenses available once a governor has declared a catastrophe to allow non resident adjusters to come into a state to work storm losses.

Well enough of my comments in response to this great article written by the then President- Pete Vaughn – so here is the link to the December 2008 issue so you can read the article yourself. I hope this generates a comment from the writer of the article on new trends he is seeing in 2009 and 2010 since this article has been written. From what I’m hearing- the fee schedules are much worse if anything. I’d be interested in your thoughts as well as his as to what you are experiencing out in the field.

Here is the link- http://www.caiia.org/sr/1208caiia_sr.pdf

I agree whole heartedly with this article- do the carriers want a cheap price or do they want the quality work which policyholders deserve? At this point, it certainly appears their overriding decisions are based solely on price driving many experienced adjusters to leave this industry based on the lack of work and when their is work, the fee schedules are unreasonably low which do not begin to cover an independent overhead to cover their software expenses, travel and lodging expenses, and their equipment needs and maintenance issues for vehicles, computers, ladders, and annual certifications.


Louisiana Citizens- Does anyone understand this AIA recommendation? Would you work claims as an independent adjuster there?

March 29, 2010

AIA  (American Insurance Association ) who represents approximately 300 insurance companies says proposals to abolish Louisiana Citizens  are misguided in this March 18, 2010 article:

http://www.insuranceheadlines.com/Homeowners/6563.html

AIA’s main argument was the need for available insurance in coastal communities. I find this argument interesting in light of the 100 million incentive Louisiana offered as incentive to induce insurance companies to offer insurance in Louisiana as outlined in many articles. Two of the articles are linked below which explain the details of the incentive:

http://www.insurereinsure.com/BlogHome.aspx?entry=223 and this one posted on the Louisiana Department of Insurance website:

http://www.ldi.state.la.us/InsureIncentiveProgram/index.htm

There were also many post Katrina articles about the carriers taking out policies from Louisiana Citizens such as:

Here is a list of several of the carriers who did take out policies from Louisiana Citizens through the incentive program:

http://www.2theadvocate.com/news/business/17179086.html?showAll=y&c=y

40,000 policies removed by six carriers:

http://www.ldi.la.gov/public_affairs/Press_Releases/2008_Press_Releases/10-8-08%2040,000%20Insurance%20Policies%20to%20be%20removed%20from%20Citizens.htm

This seems strange in view of the many articles posted post hurricane Katrina about problems with Louisiana Citizens after Katrina to include but not limited to some of the following issues:

This article just came out March 23, 2010 regarding a former executive pleading guiltyf to theft charges:

http://ifawebnews.com/2010/03/23/former-louisiana-citizens-executive-pleads-guilty-to-theft-charge/

This February 2010 provides more details about the alleged charges against this executive and the trial then upcoming in March 2010:

http://www.autoquotenow.com/auto-insurance-news/state/former-insurance-exec-to-go-on-trial-in-louisiana-2040.php

What about this class action against Louisiana Citizens per this LA Department of Insurance press release on a 17 million dollar settlement for their failure to settle Katrina claims within the statutory deadlines?

http://www.ldi.state.la.us/public_affairs/Press_Releases/2009_Press_Releases/8-19-09%20Citizens%20suit%20press%20conference.htm

This article from April 2009 outlines information about another class action lawsuit against Louisiana Citizens for failure to pay overhead and profit on claims:

http://blog.nola.com/tpmoney/2009/04/a_state_appeals_court_has.html

How about the news the Louisiana Citizens Board approved 35 million to settle yet a different class action lawsuit that involved 30,000 insureds due to poor claim  handling:

http://channels.isp.netscape.com/pf/story.jsp?floc=FF-APO-1333&idq=/ff/story/0001%2F20081114%2F0813395122.htm&sc=1333

This next article discusses a court dismissing a federal case against Louisiana Citizens for  racketeering, money laundering, wire fraud and mail fraud for their own enrichment :

 http://www.nola.com/business/t-p/index.ssf?/base//money-1/1218864023315000.xml&coll=1

In this article regarding disputes between the LA Insurance Dept and the legislative auditor over release of Insurance Dept emails it says:

http://www.theadvertiser.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080204/OPINION/802040302/1014

“Jim Donelon, state insurance commissioner, and Steve Theriot, the legislative auditor, are old friends now engaged in a months-old spat over Theriot’s audit of the Department of Insurance. Along with subpoenas, a lawsuit, the occasional snide remark and accusation of wrongdoing, each man has used public hearings to air his grievances about the other. ”

This article from 2007 discussses a major overhaul needed of Louisiana Citizens and citizens outrage over assessements as well as a good explanation about who the members of the Citizens board consists of:

http://blog.nola.com/times-picayune/2007/10/citizens_board_taken_to_task.html

Article discussing Citizens of LA settlement of hundreds of cases of “slabbed” claims from Katrina:

http://fpn.advisen.com/?resource_id=611446981029447447#top

Links to articles about the MAJOR computer glitches and accounting audit nightmares experienced at Louisiana Citizens after Katrina:

http://www.property-casualty.com/News/2007/3/Pages/La–Last-Resort-Insurer-Missing-Audit.aspx

While I don’t know the current status of improvements at Louisiana Citizens, here were a few articles post Katrina showing some good things for adjusters and citizens of Louisiana to include:

Senate Bill No. 183 requiring Lousiana Citizens utilize adjusters and adjusting firms who had been domiciled in the state 5 years or more and was effective in August 2007:

http://legis.state.la.us/billdata/streamdocument.asp?did=436266

Most importantly is that Louisiana did not have adjuster licensing requirements at the time of Katrina’s landfall but did begin requirement adjusters be licensed since then. Resources for adjusters seeking resident, non resident licenses, emergency licenses, and more information on the Claims Adjusters Acts should use this link:

http://www.ldi.state.la.us/Licensing/Producer/index.html

Here is more info on Louisiana adjuster licensing from when they initial announced the licensing requirements:

http://www.ldi.louisiana.gov/documents/licensing/adjuster/AdjusterLicensingInLouisiana.pdf

http://www.ldi.louisiana.gov/documents/licensing/Producer/LAClaimsAdjusterAct.pdf

This article had indicated part of the problems were lack of staffing and resignation of an accounting manager leaving no one to answer the audit questions due to the severe computer glitches and problems with accounting:

http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/southcentral/2007/04/05/78506.htm?ref=feed

Another article says most of the paperwork could not be produced on over 300,000 in expenses:

http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/southcentral/2007/06/25/81076.htm

While I don’t have more time today to spend on this blog, a good place to start your research on current trends and activities, here is a link to the Board of Governors meeting minutes for the past several years you might want to review before considering taking claim assignments from them. http://www.lacitizens.com/MeetingAgenda.aspx

It is not only the adjusting firm you need to do due diligence on before accepting work but also the carrier you will be assigned to to protect yourself from the ever increasing possibility of delays and non payment issues on fee bills. I study the state wind pools for members of ClaimSmentor as the wind pools often present the greatest opportunity for independent insurance adjuster assignments during major disasters. Only you can decide if you are comfortable working for an adjusting firm or insurance company. We do hope the links posted above  help you make the best possible decision.

Should you decide you do wish to work assignments for them, we have been able to locate only one adjusting firm thus far offering Louisiana Citizens Adjuster Certification and that is AmCat.  Here is a link to their training site offering not only Louisiana Citizens certification but certification for many other carriers:

http://www.adjusterclasses.com/


Adjuster looks back on Career at 55! The things I still ponder about the Claims Industry

March 19, 2010

Absolutely shocking and still letting it sink in! I turned the big 55 earlier this month and still reeling from the realization that I have spent my entire adult  life in the insurance industry. The days when I would look at my annual benefits statements which showed I could retire in 2010 are now long ago but  I would always laugh it off that March 2010 would never arrive…and here it is!

I entered the insurance business in 1973, newly married and a grand 17 years old! I had no clue that I was embarking on a life in insurance and claims…but I did know it was employment with the only major employer back in Murfreesboro, TN where we moved as my husband was being released after completion of his four years as a navy corpsman and he wanted to attend college in his home town.

What a change life was leaving home in FL, a military brat, a daughter of a Navy Commander and one of eight children to a working adult with no massive family constantly around! The thought of attending college never entered my mind at the time! Work life in the insurance industry was always changing so I never found it boring as I changed positions through promotional opportunities regularly and moved about 7 times to various cities as mobility used to be a fixed requirement to move into management positions.

I spent my first few months as a mail and file clerk at the lowest possible level and quickly got promoted to a Fire company accounts receivable clerk when the carrier got tired of watching me drag a stool around to reach in the top file drawers! They actually began requiring new file clerks be atleast 5 ft tall to avoid their worry I would hit my head on the corner of the top file drawer!

I spent eight years in accounts receivable working my way up the ranks to a team lead. I can’t begin to say what a valuable experience it was coming up through the ranks as I learned to handle complaints from policyholders if premium payments were misapplied (yes we really did open each envelop individually and stamp the back of each check and balance deposits- how ancient is that compared to today’s machinery and PO Boxes!). During the last of my stint in accounting, I handled agency correspondence on premium payment issues, endorsements, and the greatest part was learning to respect agency and the power they held with the executive office! You quickly learn “if the agent ain’t happy” ain’t no one happy which served me well in my later career in claims.

I never thought “gee I want to be a claims rep when I grow up”. I went into claims kicking and screaming due to my fear of  roof climbing but thankful to still have a stable job when they merged the homeowners accounting group with the auto accounting department. I had no idea I would absolutely fall in love with claims where I spent the next 20 years as first an inside adjuster for 2 years, a field adjuster, a reinspector, an in office supervisor, then finally promoted to my first field claim operation managing adjusters and estimators with adjusters scattered throughout 3 cities. I was proud to later be selected to relocate to FL for the first “claim central” operation then later selected as a national catastrophe team manager where I ended my staff career after 4 years traveling nationally following storms. 28 years was amazing and always interesting having climbed through 16 job classes to reach my final position as a Team Manager. Burn out after 4 years on the road over 80% of each year is putting it mildly but it didn’t take me but 2 years to realize I truly missed the excitement of working the next storm and the comraderie that goes along with working with people who enjoyed it too.

Was it easy to stay with one employer? Was it easy to move from the lowest clerical job classification through to a Claims Team Manager? You bet it wasn’t! Did I ever consider leaving? No….sure didn’t. It actually never crossed my mind! I came from a family where my dad joined the Navy as the lowest seaman and worked his way up the ranks to retire 35 or 36 years later as a Commander in the Navy with 8 kids to boot! How he ever did that I’ll never know with 8 children, constant deployments, and attending college for his BS and Masters Degree at night. That is what we knew and I applied the same theory as my dad to my career. I went to college over 15 years at night school, did my IIA and AIC designations through www.aicpcu.org and have completed 9 parts of what was the 10 part course in the CPCU program. Why I can’t force myself to take and finish that last part of CPCU on accounting and statistics to secure the full designation is beyond me but something that escapes my interest at 55!

Would I do it all over again? You bet I would. Claims  has kept me gainfully employed over the years as staff and later in the independent industry. The last 5 years I’ve been caught up in the ClaimSmentor mentoring program I founded where we train independents. It came about due to the struggles I constantly saw with new independent adjusters having no clue what was needed once they were licensed and really no place to turn for some guidance while they were waiting to get their foot in the door with a reputable adjusting firm. We are now approaching 1,200 members which includes 74 adjusting firm owners and head managers so I am very proud of the accomplishment that the synergy of our group has achieved when so many others told us we were wasting our time even trying!

In today’s world, I am just fascinated with the claims industry and the constant changes but the more I learn, the more I do wonder….why we do what we do, the way we do it, and how I can contribute to make the claims industry a better place for those of us who have dedicated our life to the industry and a better place for the policyholders who suffer when we don’t complete our jobs properly.

Here is just of few of my random thoughts as I contemplate the claims industry at 55 after gosh over 37 years now in this industry:

1) Does the fact we tend to call an insurance contract a “policy” lead to some of the confusion for a policyholder that “all” things are covered? I know from a layman’s terms ,for example, if my parents set a policy that I had to be in by 10pm as a teenager that I could easily pry them into letting me stay out later if it was for something special. Had I signed a contract however, I would understand that can’t be changed as I agreed to the written terms. Just a thought….

2) Why don’t carrier employees get discounts on insurance premiums? I always found that strange!

3) The purpose of insurance is indemnity or to restore a person to whole after suffering a loss. I think of that as stability for policyholders. Thus, I have always found it strange that especially since about 1995 a claims career feels anything but stable for employees as carriers reorganize, downsize, move from field to in office claim handling…etc. I rarely have a conversation with any experienced adjusters anymore who are not considering leaving the industry as the pay is reduced, the requirements more stringent, the legal environment overwhelming, and for independent adjusters- ever more licensing and certification requirements but that is another issue all together!

4) I ponder how insurance companies can collect premiums but in some cases be 100% dependent on independent adjusters to handle their catastrophe claims. It is not because they cannot handle it that I wonder but because carrier employees tend to treat independents as the red headed step child of the industry but that is a step above their stereo type for public adjusters. It just does not seem responsible to me. In fact, in any other business, if you took money for a service and did not provide it…well you can figure out the results of that easily enough! So why is this allowed to go on with insurance carriers? It doesn’t matter how many rosters the carrier maintains or how many adjusting firms they have contracts with. The fact is, they have made no committment to independent adjusters all year long so they have no idea which assignment if any that independents will take. They need to improve the relationship for all concerned.

5) I still constantly ponder what the independent adjusters can do to overcome the non payment and delay issues getting paid for claims they handle. I receive calls daily from adjusters individually and in groups who still have fee bills outstanding from Ike. I do not know of any other group of employees who would receive a deployment call and head out to live on the road in catastrophe conditions with no consideration whatsoever for their living provisions when no hotels are to be found (staff adjusters have housing provided/ independent adjusters who serve carriers do not) and asked to go months before they see the first dime in payment for their work. This applies to inside adjusters working on a fixed daily rate as well. A major FL carrier tells even them to expect 6 weeks for their first paycheck even if on a daily rate which makes no sense. Not only should a carrier staff up for storm adjusters but they need to staff appropriately during storms for support help such as payments like expense checks and for independent fee bills so they can survive. Today, independents tell the new folks to plan to have a minimum of $10,000 for living expense quarters, gas, transportation, and office supplies before they will ever see their first storm payment check. Regarding the non payment by unscrupulous adjusting firms ( the few that are that give them all a black eye), how can the state insurance departments not control this issue? We have folks that are turned down regularly by insurance departments and attorney general offices who tell them they can’t  help them (especially if they worked for an out of state adjusting firm). We need to help these folks by having the appropriate authorities regulate the industry much better.

6) Why did carriers begin making pretty files much more important than prompt service to policyholders? It drives me nuts every time I hear the word  “Sketch”. Just check the classifieds on claim adjuster forums and see the hundreds firms are charging for them to learn “sketch”. Listen folks, in my opinion, I just haven’t been able to accept the fact that a computer sketch of a house floor plan and diagram does one thing to help settle a claim. We used hand drawn diagrams with measurements for years. It would actually shock you what these new computer programs are doing to reduce the number of file closures adjusters can close today versus what they were able to before all of  the “pretty” file standards were created. I do more than understand alot of it was generated due to the increase in claims litigation and the discovery of file material but I do not see that many of these things are doing anything to resolve customer service issues.  During Katrina, many extremely experienced contractors who could easily complete an estimate walked out due to the difficulty to adapt to all of the electronic claim systems….and that was beside the fact they couldn’t get power or rooms with high speed internet to even upload the photos to the files. I just wish we would keep the emphasis on the customer not the technical systems. In many claim environments and training sessions, you don’t even hear the customer mentioned anymore because there is just not enough time in the day to cover all the technical system issues.

7) It seems an unusual number of staff and independent adjusters are flipping their license for a public adjuster license. It sure seems strange to me from the standpoint that regulation of public adjusters gets tougher by the day but each time I’ve asked former co-workers who flipped they did because they could no longer tolerate what they were seeing by inexperienced people not only adjusting claims but managing claims at the carriers whether they were independent or staff. People I never thought I’d hear considering it are. I can’t say I didn’t at one point too because I understand what they see, I understand their frustrations with our industry. I just took a different route and formed ClaimSmentor to  help but I can assure you there are many times it is overwhelming when there is so much need for improvement for the independent training and regulations on how they are treated and paid. Just when I get overwhelmed with trying to make a difference, an email pops up from a trainee thanking me for helping them learn about the industry or thanking us for helping them find a reputable adjusting firm they matched up with. ClaimSmentor wasn’t opened because I thought I was smarter than the average bear but because I did think by gathering good folks together who were very proficient in the independent claims industry we could all learn from each other. I learn new things from our members with every post they make whether it be a need for training in an area I didn’t know existed or learn from some great members with construction backgrounds about better estimating techniques. I hope there will be interest one day in the next few years for someone to carry on the mentoring project as my husband and I are looking forward to retiring when we can.

8  ) Something that has always seemed strange to me is that contractor licensing is so very well regulated yet we as adjusters with no contractors licensing are the be all end all of estimate creation and decision making when it comes to what it takes to repair a home following a disaster. Sure we can handle the routine estimating on most losses but I know I sure couldn’t get in there and rebuild some of the homes I’ve estimated in my career. Fortunately, my employer did pay for us to attend a 3 week contractors school at Vale Technical where I learned alot as well as continuing education at all levels of my career. I was much more confident in estimating when I did it regularly but looking back I always wonder. The younger adjusters today seem so very confident and have much more access to online training but we all know- there is nothing like working a trade. Fortunately, viewing hundreds of resumes annually, we have so many contractors obtaining adjusters licensing. It is pretty standard thinking these days that it is easier to train them on policy than to train someone with no construction estimating who is good at policy. I’ll be the first to admit when I was in my early twenties I fell through a ceiling or two while climbing in an attic, fell though a mobile home floor when it was soaked by the fire department, and many other war stories due to my lack of knowledge in construction and what effects fire/water do to building components. I think that is why I understand trainee adjusters so well and have so much empathy for their training needs because I was there at one time. I just can’t help but wonder why there is not atleast a minimum training regulation by insurance departments on construction training before one can be deemed a “property” adjuster! The current trend is for experienced adjusters to scope and estimate the damages and work with an inside less experienced adjuster who does the contents and additional living expense and settle the building estimate with the insured. A very funny conversation overhead a few months ago by one of our members was an inside adjuster calling the field adjuster and telling them to take the crown molding out of their estimate as “mold” isn’t covered under the policy. This is just one example of the frustrations experienced adjusters are feeling today with the current claim environments. Imagine how policyholders who might hear such a ridiculous statement must feel with their carrier’s claim service. No wonder PA’s are so successful today in obtaining more recovery dollars if this is widespread in our industry!

I could go on an on but it’s 2 am. I have a moderator on ClaimSmentor who started a discussion this week on why so many folks over 50 are changing careers and becoming newly licensed adjusters. I think much of the reason is the down turn in the construction industry and I am sure they are thankful to make a career transition. The problem is as I show in the 125 question self assessment test on this blog is that there is so much more to handling claims than just knowing construction. Claims is a world of it’s own with it’s own procedures and many coverages beyond the building loss itself. Hopefully, I can get our moderator to do a guest blog for us addressing his concerns which he says go far beyond just the physical demands of entering this field at 50 or above.

Thanks for letting me ponder out loud and looking back at quite a lengthy career in claims. If I could change anything at all it might be taking the route of SIU- Special Investigations unit as I thoroughly enjoyed detailed investigations much more than jumping ladders doing roof inspections ( or crawling under off grade houses looking for signs of long term water damage!) but it’s been quite a ride!

If you missed our prior blog with the 125 question self assessment test, here is the link:

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

If you missed our prior blog  with our published article ” Luck- where preparation meets opportunity”, here is the link:

http://www.claimseducationmagazine.com/pdfs/CEM_Winter_08_v1.pdf  found on page 8


FL Consumer Advocate Round Table 1/6/10 Topic is Appraisal in FL Policies- Don’t miss it!

January 5, 2010

H/t to Attorney Chip Merlin’ for posting information on his blog important to the adjusting community (no matter which side your on!)  that we can call in or watch the January 6, 2010 Florida Department of Financial Services Consumer Advocate Roundtable with an utmost important topic not only to Floridian’s but to insurance adjusters as well on the topic of Appraisal provisions in Fl policies.

Here are links to his posts- I know I for one will be listening to it since Citizens of FL which many of my family and friends are insured with has already removed the appraisal provision from homeowner policies. Here are links on the topic so you can listen in or watch as well:

Post of 1/5/10 at Merlin’s blog with his planned recommendations at the round table: Click here

Post of 1/4/10 at Merlin’s blog with the contact information to call in and/or view the 1/6/10 roundtable: Click here

For a complete list of panelists (impressive group but where are the large independent adjusting firms or representatives from Citizens and why are they not also included on the panel)? Here’s the link to his post on the panelists: Click here

Link to prior post on his site regarding appraisal provision removal on Citizens Property Insurance Corporation of FL removing the appraisal provision: Click here

*Note it is also public information posted on the PAST link for the Citizens of Florida Board of Governor’s meeting notes : Click here to view their direct information

Here is a direct link to Sean Shaw’s press release over at the FL Dept of Financial services website from his 12/17/09 news release with more information on the purpose of the round table and the participants: Click here

Here are the specifics on connecting to tomorrow’s meeting:

January 6, 2010
10:00 AM – 3:30 PM
House Office Building, Committee Room 404

The Capitol, Tallahassee, Florida

Conference Call-in Number: 1-888-808-6959 Code: 4132880

WFSU Florida Channel 

See Merlin’s blog for more agenda and attendee info on the above blogs.

 

 


Several news stories relate that if Gov Crist in FL signs new regs that State Farm may stay in FL- See articles/ See info on Delay in Exit decision until July 15th and AMBest rating changes for carrier

June 23, 2009

The Insurance Journal today sent out a breaking news story on this today and I’m also linking to the Miami Herald article stating that State Farm may reconsider departure from the FL insurance market if Governor Crist in FL signs new regulation on rates:

Here is the Miami Herald news story:

http://www.heraldtribune.com/article/20090623/ARTICLE/906231038/2055/NEWS?Title=If-Crist-relaxes-rules-State-Farm-hints-it-may-stay

Here is a link to the Insurance Journal article:

http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/southeast/2009/06/22/101618.htm

Here is a link to the  Insurance Journal info on AMBEST downgrading of their rating for State Farm of Florida:

http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/southeast/2009/06/18/101518.htm

Here is also a link to delays in a decision until July 15th per another Insurance Journal update:

http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/southeast/2009/06/15/101413.htm

Should they stay this might provide substantial reconsideration by independent adjusters thoughts about working the Citizens of FL claims if they feel opportunities will exist into the future to work State Farm Florida claims when a major disaster strikes.


Just A ClaimSmentor Moment #7- State Claim Handling Regulations-Guide to each region-Outstanding Resource by Claims Magazine

April 4, 2009

I’ve had no time for blogging the past week but don’t want to forget to share this link with our claims industry readers.

Claims Magazine has a new outstanding resource for those in the claims industry to keep up with new insurance claim handling regulations those of us in claims need to constantly stay up to date with:

Click here


Guest Blog by Ray Hauser of ClaimSmentor-Ray Shares His Personal Story in our “Luck Where Preparation Meets Opportunity Series”

March 17, 2009

 

 

Claims Education Magazine published my article in 2008   “Luck…where Preparation meets Opportunity”.

To continue with our strong recommendation that newly licensed adjusters seek reputable training opportunities that are recognized in our industry, Ray is a prime example of  what independent trainee adjusters are going through to get a foot in the door for adjusting assignments.

Here is Ray’s story on the long  journey post license to fill in the squares due to  insurance company and adjusting firm requirements before he can receive assignments. Ray, we appreciate your time contributing to this series of articles. I thoroughly enjoyed your participating in our January/February 50 Hour Fundamentals of Property adjusting course. 

This article link will also remain on our Guest Blog page above with all other entries by contributing bloggers. I do think it is important to highlight what those wanting a career in claims can expect  (from the independent side) and we have several interesting blogs by others when they were new in the field. If I asked Ray what he has spent thus far on licensing, rope and harness classes, and all of his other course fees plus transportation and lodging, I would guess he is in the 7,500 to 10K range. I see this regularly thus my push on looking for other sources for this education.

                  Getting Started in Adjusting by Ray Hauser

 

After I completed my 4 day licensing course I became aware very quickly that the process of finding work may be just a little harder than what I had expected. Many of my fellow course-mates fell by the wayside believing the task was next to impossible. Company after company stated on their websites that they required either a  4 year degree, or at least 2 years of experience, neither of which I had. Here I am, just a few months down the line, with a totally different perspective in terms of what it takes to find a job. What’s changed? Knowledge! The claims companies want knowledge, and they need to know you have the ability to settle a claim and leave the insured with a good experience. Knowledge and customer service drive this train! We adjusters have to understand that the claims companies are not going to hand out jobs to people with just a 4 day crash course in insurance and a 3 day course in Xactimate! That kind of knowledge is only the starting point. So the question becomes, “What else do I have to do, and where do I go to get it?” Of course it’s always beneficial if you start with some construction and customer service experience. I’m a new adjuster too, so believe me when I say “I don’t have all the answers”. But here’s my opinion.

 

First, you should register on web sites that offer information that can help you build your resume.

 

There’s no better place to go than to ClaimSmentor.  Here’s a website that’s a source of information not readily found anywhere else. Anything to do with insurance is found right here. The gal that runs it, Debbie Moroy (debbie@dimechimes.com), has dedicated her life to training new people. She started her career in 1973 with State Farm, and started the adjusting aspect of it over 26 years ago. Who better to learn from? Reading her resume is like reading a dictionary:

 

State Farm Basic, Intermediate, Commercial, and Management Schools. Vale Tech Residential Estimatics,Haag Roofing School, Georgia Arson Fraud School, many others too numerous to list. Have all 5 State Farm certifications to include wind, estimatics, commercial, earthquake, etc.. Have completed IIA, AIC, and 9 parts of CPCU.

 

Because of her reputation in the industry and the fact that she’s so well respected, and knows so many people after these many years, it’s my opinion that having her knowledge as your foundation in claims adjusting is absolutely paramount and priceless!

 

Once you’re registered on her site, you have access to up to the minute information on certification courses, other website links, insurance industry news bulletins, magazine articles, and far too many other items for me to list here. Everyone getting started should take her 50 hr Fundamentals of Property Claims course. In that course you’re taught : Contents Claim Handling Guidelines, Additional Living Expense Claim Handling, Condo Master and Condo Unit-owner Claims , File Documentation Requirements , Carrier Service Standard Expectations,  Insured/Agency Communications, and so much more. “ The class is designed to fill in major gaps of important things you need to know. The course does not cover the estimate software programs and scoping classes but concentrates on the majority of other things that are a must to know before you handle your first claim. You cannot go out in the field and “wing it” and learn as you go when dealing with consumers who have bought a policy expecting “above and beyond” service”.Then, you use the information from that course and on that website to move forward in your search for more certifications and courses.

 

Another very good idea is to get as many licenses from as many different states as you can. That way, if a hail storm hits Georgia, and you have a Non-Resident license for that state, you can be used to work the storm without having to wait for a state declared emergency. You become far more valuable to the claims companies than other adjusters only having one license from their State of Residency. Sircon is a great site for acquiring other licenses for a nominal fee. In most cases, another licensing test is not required.

If possible, pair up with another adjuster you’ve met at your local Claims Association or elsewhere, and mentor with them for a short time. 

 

Immediately after I got my license, Hurricane Ike hit the Gulf coast states. Everyone was in demand. I worked a number of claims for The Mission Group  in Beaumont, Texas. Fortunately, I had a great CEO with a lot of patience. I’d partnered up with somebody who had procured the job, but had about as much experience as I had. Ultimately, the number of mistakes we made was embarrassing. But Mr. Phil Spotts went into the training mode and demonstrated the finest managerial traits I’ve ever witnessed. To this day he’s still a hero of mine! Talk about performing under pressure by training a couple of newbies in the art of adjusting. It was a pleasure to witness, yet embarrassing to be a part of. 

 

Shortly thereafter, I joined a couple of other course-mates and proceeded to take a Two Story/ Steep Roof Rope and Harness course from Kevin Kramer  (k.squared@earthlink.net) in Montgomery, Texas ( great course!). Apparently, for those that have that certification, they’re the first to be called out and the last to leave because they can handle all roofs, not just the easy ones. Kevin also sells an OJT Training Manual that has lots of very good information in it concerning construction, scoping, roof calculations, roof pictorials, estimating interior damage etc etc. It’s a very good manual to have in your library when you’re trying to gain knowledge.

 

Another great manual to have is one published by Richard Beckner . He gives in depth details and step by step instructions in using Xactimate. It truly is geared for the adjuster having problems in using the software. It’s one of the best manuals I have. It can be accessed at: www.learnxactimate.com .

 

After my R & H course we proceeded to Pilot Catastrophe Services Inc. in Grande Prairie, Texas, hoping to acquire a successful evaluation, then 4 days of additional training in Allstate, Integriclaim, and NextGen.

 

 I’ve just completed a Citizens certification class in my search for a job in Daily Adjusting here in Florida, and I have 4 more certifications scheduled.

 

So, in summary, you need to have knowledge that you didn’t pick up on your licensing course. Knowledge like measuring roofs, replacing the shingles with the appropriate amount of waste rounded up to the nearest shingle bundle, replacing or repairing fencing…..depreciated or not depreciated? What are the important things you have to ask the insured when you’re making first contact and arranging an inspection? If you can’t answer these questions, you just need to take the appropriate training. It’s all out there. You just have to access it. 

 

Family members have asked, “Who will I work for?” The answer to me is obvious. I’ll work for anyone wise enough to hire me, because I’m going to be prepared by being ready to go to work, educated enough to do the job, and wise enough to only hand in great claims. I’ll get my local adjuster in town to preview my work if I have to. But my claims will absolutely be as good as anyone’s.  I am not going to be the first one to go home after a storm because of my shoddy work.  And hopefully, I’ll be one of the last ones working the storm!

 

           

Ray Hauser, Port Orange (Daytona Beach), Florida

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To View more information about independent adjuster Ray Hauser, you can view his Linkedin Profile here.

To Join our Claims Industry Group, you can view our Linkedin Profile here.

 

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Ray we thank you for sharing your story and also for your testimonial about the ClaimSmentor online claim mentor group. Deb