Friday, October 31, 2008

Will your claim file be the subject of the next consumer blog?

Time was you urged adjusters to consider the New York Times test in assessing their actions. You told them, don’t write anything in the claim file that you wouldn’t want to have on the front page of the morning New York Times. Don’t do anything you wouldn’t want reported in the New York Times, either.

That is still sound advice. In the Internet Age, though, it might bear some tweaking. Nowadays, if you shortchange a consumer – or (perhaps more importantly) – if a consumer thinks he or she has been mistreated by an adjuster, there’s a chance you could wind up as the subject of a blog.

Over the past month, the Claim Coach has seen at least a half dozen blogs fueled by steam coming out the ears of disgruntled policyholders and claimants. It has been said that nowadays the three most feared statements are,

“Here’s a letter from the IRS …”
“The doctor wants to discuss your test results ..” and
“Would you like to read my blog? …”

Many blogs are very specific in naming names, companies and excoriating claim practices. The Internet provides an electronic pulpit for disgruntled consumers to rant about how the adjuster never returns phone calls, wants to replace the quarter-panel with substandard parts or is balking at paying for smoke damage to the kitchen.

Have a good consumer experience and you may tell three other people. Get burned by a claim adjuster and you can let thousands know through the electronic bully pulpit of the blogosphere. This is an era where there are websites with URL’s such as or If you wanted to be famous on the web, I doubt that any adjuster, insurer or TPA had that in mind!

None of this is to inspire paranoia on the part of adjusters or their companies. If they are on solid ground, stick to their guns. It highlights the reality that companies, adjusters and an industry sector has a reputational risk at stake due to how we treat policyholders and claimants. If all your actions, inactions and statements were reported on the blogosphere, would you still feel comfortable?
Consider that as one yardstick for assessing your file-handling.

Adjuster fame through an irate consumer flame-job is no way to become well-known!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

My Fellow Americans ....Is there an "Adjuster's Candidate"??

Which Presidential candidate stands to improve the lot of claim adjusters? Is one of the am “Adjuster’s Candidate”? Seriously, I don’t pretend to know. Nor should any of the following comments be seen as an endorsement for one candidate over another, not that such imprimatur would sway anyone’s vote. However, we can hazard some projections on how political issues might align with adjusters’ interests.

One issue that engages many claims people is tort reform. Adjusters toil in the vineyards of the tort system every day. For them, it is not some ethereal policy debate. Adjuster have to open their company’s checkbooks regularly because of the tort rules, and often end up feeling – rightly or wrongly – that those rules are stacked against the adjuster and for the claimants and their lawyers.

Historically, Republicans have been more congenial to reforming the liability system. By contrast, Democrats tend to see tort reform as a guise for pro-business interests and a way to shortchange consumers. Plus, the personal injury bar is historically a huge financial contributor to Democratic candidates.

One problem with this stereotype is that, against the backdrop of economic crisis and foreign policy challenges, it is unlikely that either candidate is going to be focused on tort reform as a burning domestic policy issue. Further, Sen. Barack Obama was a supporter of the Class Action Fairness Act. Amidst all the domestic and foreign policy hot potatoes, it is difficult to see any type of tort reform legislation getting much traction. This, coupled with the growing public image of big businesses getting government bailouts, throwing a tort reform “bone” to big business will not win any politician brownie points.

Bottom line: adjusters should not expect any Federal movement on tort reform in the near future.

This may be a good news/bad news situation, though. Should tort reform become a relatively dead issue and liability claims proliferate in a tough economy, more claims might portend a higher demand for claim personnel. View it as a Full Employment Act for Adjusters!

Perhaps that is one silver lining that merits bipartisan support.