I’ve always said that claim adjusters were like the Marines of the insurance industry. Marines represent the country’s “tip of the spear,” translating highfalutin policies into real action.
Similarly, it falls to the claims people on the front lines to translate those lofty marketing assurances and policy provisions into concrete service.
Now, it turns out that the Marines and insurance adjusters may have more in common than I ever thought. A recent article in the Los Angeles Times (“Marines Act as Paymasters to Afghans”) (http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-helmand6-2008jul06,0,5963950.story) describes how the Marines in Afghanistan are reimbursing Afghanis for property damage and business interruption occasioned by fighting the Taliban.
The article quotes Marine 1st Lieutenant Shaun Miller as saying that paying claims was not exactly what he signed up for when he became a leatherneck. At times, he says, he feels like an . . . insurance adjuster!
Marines playing claims adjuster in Afghanistan raise a number of interesting case-handling issues, none of which are likely addressed in any of the Insurance Institute’s Associate in Claims texts:
· What kind of receipts are acceptable in processing a herdsman’s business interruption claim from destroyed poppy fields that would have yielded him a profitable drug crop?
· If you pay for a killed goat, do you value the loss on an ACV or replacement cost basis?
· In the event of a “total loss” of the goat, is there salvage value in using the goat’s remains for a dinner roast?
· Has ATLA (or, excuse me, Lawyers for Civil Justice, or whatever they call themselves this week) set up a branch near Kabul to make sure that the Marines abide by fair claim practices?
For now, these will have to be rhetorical questions. Adjusters may occasionally find themselves in tough situations, but none so tough as those faced by the brave Marines in Afghanistan and elsewhere who must add “claims adjuster” to their repertoire of professional skills!