Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Even in Claims, It's Sometimes WHO You Know, Not What You Know ...

We’ve all heard the expression, “It’s not what you know it’s who you know.” In the realm of claims adjusting, this was recently illustrated by the Washington, DC transit Authority. Seems that former Washington, DC Mayor Marion Barry sits on the Board of Directors for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), the subway and bus system that runs in the nation’s capital. Allegedly, a Metro bus collided with, damaged and then drove off from Hizzoner’s private passenger car recently.

A full month after the alleged accident, the ex-Mayor telephoned in and filed his property damage claim with WMATA. There were no witnesses to the collision and the bus driver allegedly involved knew nothing about it. Nevertheless, the Transit Authority fast-tracked Barry’s claim and ended up paying him over $3000 in reimbursement for damage to his car.

Keep in mind that this is from a bureaucracy which normally could not find its own posterior if you spotted them two hands. The Metro system is replete with complaints of broken escalators, random service, late and overfilled trains, and incredibly poor response to derailments and power outages. The Authority just cannot get its act together.

Nevertheless, it acted with incredible alacrity in processing a property damage claim which, asserted by any other private citizen, would have probably been laughed out of the proverbial ballpark. If Joe Q. Citizen had phoned in a unwitnessed property damage claim one month after the date of the alleged accident, doubtlessly it would have been a case of denied liability. The poor claimant would have been lucky to receive a form letter denying his or her claim, months after the loss report.

Of course, both the ex-Mayor and the Transit Authority staunchly deny that politics or pull had anything whatsoever to do with the remarkable speed with which the claim was processed.

It just goes to show that, even in the realm of claims -- or perhaps especially in the realm of claims -- it’s not just what you know but who you know!

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