we know we have a duty to both settle
the claim and defend the insured. This
is because the insured is legally liable
for 75 percent of the causation, but is
not legally liable for the other 25 percent. The “or” clause has become an
“and” clause. We have a duty to both
settle and defend.
If we pay the claimant 100 percent,
then the claim has been settled. Have we
defended the insured? No. We have demonstrated that when it comes to defending, we cannot worry about protecting a
portion of the claimant’s deductible, securing contribution for a negligent-free
guest passenger’s injuries, or helping the
driver maintain a safe driver discount.
We have said we have better things to do
with our time.
Yet we continue to enter the marketplace reciting slogans of how great we
are while we ignore this fundamental
aspect of the contract that they purchase. Employees know this, and if you
make it crystal clear, momentum starts
According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) studies from 2009, a variety
of factors contribute to single- and two-vehicle fatal crashes, including deadly vehicle maneuvers
that drivers perform every day—some that they may not even realize can be deadly.
Topping the list of deadly vehicle maneuvers in 2009 was simply driving straight, which
contributed to more than 27,000 deaths. Next was negotiating a curve, which caused 5,588
deaths, and turning left, which caused 2,398.
The importance of being alert and focused at all times while behind the wheel is reinforced by the
fact that deaths occurred as a result of vehicles entering a parked space ( 17), leaving a parked
space ( 43), and becoming disabled in a traffic lane ( 19). Although these numbers are low, they
prove a point. Negligence could easily contribute to any one of these types of accidents.
The NHTSA also looked at drivers and their specific habits that contribute to fatal automobile
accidents. Though in many cases no factor is reported, those which contain reported factors
reinforce the carelessness of drivers today.
In 2009, 7,696 deaths occurred as a result of a driver failing to keep in the proper lane. There were
6,957 deaths resulting from a driver under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or medication, and 4,196
deaths because of a driver that was inattentive, otherwise defined as a careless driver.
More than 7,000 deaths were caused by other factors, such as improper passing, following
improperly, the use of cell phones or other technology behind the wheel, and more.
Teaching your adjusters the duty to
defend as defined in the contract is not
only a right of our policyholders but a sa-
cred trust that we should hold above all
other responsibilities—that is how you
show comparative negligence is the right
thing to do. It is powerful only because
it is true.