Christina Bramlet, Editor in Chief
The Cost of Reticence
Sometimes we drop the ball. In a day and age where culpability can cost one dearly, it is probably best to never err, or at least cop to it. In a profession that demands perfection, claims professionals are fallible, insurers liable, for a host of disappoint- ments and unfortunate events. Problem is, the world is watching when insurers stumble. On a pretty consistent basis, p&c insurers catch a lot of flak from different directions—consumer advocacy groups, disgruntled claimants, politicians, and media outlets, amongst others. Often the assertions peppering news headlines seem downright
sensational, especially those following a major catastrophe, such as Superstorm Sandy.
One could blame such criticism on a pervasive bias against the insurance industry, or perhaps the public’s notoriously poor understanding of the business itself—as most policyholders familiarize themselves with the terms of coverage when it’s time to file a claim,
rather than before. After all, insurers face the unenviable task of acting as both enforcer and messenger in times of destruction and
incalculable despair. They must make fair, albeit unpopular coverage decisions based on facts, policy language, and an increasingly
erratic Mother Nature. When emotions flare and patience is an impossible luxury, adjusters must be resourceful, calm, stoic even. In
particular, field adjusters routinely do so at great personal expense, forgoing creature comforts and time with their families while also
maneuvering the harsh realities of “ground zero.” Serving as the new (and sometimes only) constant in a claimant’s post-catastrophe
reality, these consummate professionals must execute their duties and then some….flawlessly.
These days, virtually anyone can serve up grievances via social media. Commonly no (if any) fact-checking is involved in that. Accusations can also be broadcast on the nightly news with some semblance of credibility. Meanwhile, insurers remain silent, relatively
speaking, in times of both bad press and good, focusing on the tasks at hand. How often do you read about the good the p&c community does—in patching back together lives? In one case in Moore, Okla., contents specialists took turns walking and feeding an
elderly woman’s dog while she made the trek for medications. That, of course, didn’t make the news.
Fraud represents another area where p&c must do a better job of storytelling. Russ Schreiber, CEO at FICO, agrees that insurers’
good intentions can have some bad side effects:
“Insurers want to make sure their good, honest customers are being paid promptly,” he explains. “The motto has always been to
quickly and fairly pay the claim first, go after the bad guys later. Therein lies the problem—once the money is out the door, it is virtu-
ally impossible to recoup.”
It could easily be argued that the industry is, I dare say, often its own worst enemy. For example, filing a claim is the make-or-break
point for insurers in retaining policyholders or losing them for failure to meet expectations. Aside from customer expectations, the
ever-evolving regulatory landscape can interfere with insurers’ capability to do just that. Just look at the results of the most recent
U.S. market conduct exams. You can view the “top 10” gripes on page 9. Claims handling and underwriting dominated the list, and in
some ways, we have only ourselves to blame.
Public Adjusters and
By Christina Bramlet
Establishing boundaries early on will set the stage for fair claims resolution.
Here, we discuss some legal and
practical issues, as well as how to
protect your rights when a public
adjuster is involved in a loss.
Telematics At Tipping Point
as Execs Weigh Ultimate
By Phil Gusman
Insurance telematics will likely go mainstream within 5 years, with a medium-to-large
impact on the auto-insurance
market. Consumers may reconsider privacy issues, provided
premium savings are substantial.