August 14, 2022

Archives for December 2011

16 Examples of Claim Professional’s New Year’s Resolutions

Dick Clark. Times Square and the descending ball. Popping champagne corks.

All these are signs that the a new year is upon us, ready or not, like it or not.

This time of year offers a great opportunity for claims professionals to sit back, reflect on the past twelve months and plan for the upcoming year. In the context of goal-setting, take this time to ponder what you want to do professionally with your claims career in 2012.

Are you happy and satisfied with the course you are on? If not, what specific steps will you need to change your trajectory?

If you are on the right course, what steps can you take in 2012 to accelerate your journey and make it more fun?

What skills do you need to acquire and hone in 2012?

Goals should be specific, measurable and time-bound.

“I plan to pursue continuing claims education in 2012” is a lame-oh goal. Better: “I plan to complete two courses b y 12/31/12 that earn credit toward the AIC designation.”

“Planning to network more” is a weak goal. Instead, consider something on the order of, “In 2012, I will grow my LinkedIn contacts to 200 members and to attend at least three local claim association gatherings.”

“I plan to get a better job next year” might be replaced by, “I will update my resume, locate a headhunter and make a specific overture/application for a new claims position at least once a month in 2012.”

Should you keep your goals private or publicize them? There is no one right answer here.

Whether you share the goals with anyone other than yourself, I strongly recommend putting pen to paper – or fingers to the keyboard – and reducing to writing some specific, measurable goals for 2012, with specific target dates. No one can tell you what your goals should be. Here is a sampling of possible professional goals for 2012, meant only to spur your own thinking along these lines:

1. “I will find ways to capture a 10% savings in my claims department budget.”

2. “I will schedule monthly lunches with peer-level claims professionals within and outside my company.”

3. “I will conduct an employee satisfaction survey within the claims department and identify five action items for the year.”

4. “I will organize four in-house continuing education sessions for the claims staff.”

5. “I will strive to contain the growth in the organization’s overall claim costs by no more than X%.”

6. “I resolve to write a short article (750 to 1000 words) on a claims topic and submit it to publication in an industry newsletter, publication or trade magazine.”

7. “I will heighten my industry visibility by volunteering for one speaking role at a trade conference or claims seminar.”

8. “I will spend 30 minutes per day to professional reading in claims, legal developments, coverage, etc.”

9. “I will identify five work tasks that I currently do that are no longer necessary and will either discontinue or delegate them.”

10. “I will initiate quarterly informal meetings with my boss to gauge my progress on professional goals and to ensure we’re on the same page.”

11. “I will – on my own time — update my resume quarterly and will make sure I speak with my friendly headhunter at least twice during the year.”
12. “I will prepare a concise claims management report for the upper management team and (if appropriate) Board of Directors quarterly.”

13. “I will conduct a thorough review of outside legal/rehab/contractor services this year to see where we can improve in quality or cost of service.”

14. “I resolve to leave the office by 6:00 PM each work day to increase my family time.

15. “I will successfully complete the following courses toward qualifying for the AIC, CPCU, SCLA, etc.”

16. “I will learn to use the following software program to help my work quality or productivity in 2012….”

OK, I said sixteen examples. Let me toss in another:

17. I will resolve to read The Claims Coach blog regularly and faithfully throughout the year…!

One final thought. Having goals is a great first step toward success. Just having them, though, is NOT enough.

Once upon a time, there were three frogs sitting on a lily pad. One of them decided to jump off.

How many frogs were left on the lily pad?

If you said two, you are probably like many of us.

The right answer: three.

Deciding to jump isn’t the same as actually jumping.

Deciding on a goal and writing it down isn’t the same as working toward it. Block out time on your schedule daily, weekly, monthly to engage in specific tasks that move you closer and closer to your 2012 goals!

Make 2012 your best year yet! Happy New Year!!

What professional goals in the claims field are you hoping to achieve in 2012?

Santa Clause Needs a Claims Adjuster

Faced with a deluge of lawsuits, Santa Claus is seriously considering liquidating his business, owing to intractable risk management problems. Though his Christmas sojourns began three centuries ago, 98% of the court action has occurred within the past five years. Santa has finally decided to appoint a third-party claims administrator – The North Pole Group, Ltd. — to bring under control a burgeoning claim volume.

Santa’ first stint as defendant involved a suit (1989) that was dismissed from court. An air traffic controller at LaGuardia Airport in New York accused Santa of violating public air space, “risking several hundred passengers’ lives.” Complex regulations govern LaGuardia air traffic, and these — along with New York accents — were poorly understood by Santa’s four-legged sleigh guide. After being forced to land at LaGuardia, Santa was held up on the ground for four hours during tense negotiations over American Airlines attempt to charge him over $900,000 in excess baggage fees.

In 1997, Santa attempted to avert the airborne problem by keeping his sleigh on the ground, but was mired in traffic at the Holland Tunnel and barely completed his gift deliveries. In 2008, Santa’s sleigh was towed and impounded by Manhattan Police after the sleigh stopped in front of a sign which read, “Don’t Even THINK About Parking Here!”

In the early 2000’s, at least a dozen suits were filed in as many states, mostly by environmentalists. To wit: allowing twelve reindeer to fly through the air, given the “chances for accidental airborne pollution,” was unacceptable. The Federal EPA threatened to cite Santa as a “potentially responsible party” and a transporter of hazardous material. A compromise was reached, requiring Donner and Blitzen to wear protective “dropping suits.”

Twelve bad boys in Austin, TX — overlooked by Santa for failing to help with the dishes, not making their beds, and writing nasty words in public bathrooms — won a landmark “fair share” decision in Harris County in 2008. Evidence showed that Santa had bypassed their houses in an “arbitrary and capricious way.” The jury did, however, absolve Santa of having violated the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act. Additional plaintiffs, also overlooked by Santa, have filed suit under the Federal RICO (Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organization Act), seeking treble damages for what they claim is a North Pole plot to discriminate against their failure to take out the trash, and playing a Snoop Dog rap version of “Muskrat Love” on their iPhones.

The early 2000’s also brought a barrage of product liability suits. “Since Santa crafts his toys,” bleated Philadelphia Judge K. Kringle, “he must be held to the same standards as conventional manufacturers.” Observers believed the big toy makers had stimulated these suits because Santa, using cheap elf labor and magic, had gained an unconscionable large market share. This led to opening of a formal Department of Justice investigation of Santa on antitrust grounds.

In 2009, Donner filed an “equal opportunity” suit against Santa and the North Pole Inc. Board of Directors on behalf of eleven reindeer against Rudolf. The court ruled that, with the exception of extremely foggy nights (to be determined by a court-appointed arbitration board), there would be a twelve-year rotation for the position of point-deer.

Recently, a spate of nuisance suits have embittered Santa: Spreading particulates from Chinese drywall from chimney-diving, 2007. Cruelty to animals, 2008. Wearing an inflammable red suit, 2009. Smoke pollution (his pipe was declared illegal, whether lit — for causing air pollution — or not — for setting a bad example), 2009. Unlawful interstate commerce (United States vs. Claus, 2010). Violation of Section 2, Sherman Anti-Trust Act, for monopolistic practices, 2011.

Most bizarre was the 2010 suit pitting Santa against the “Cruel and Hazardous Labor Practice Act.” Tragically, a four-foot elf suffocated in a nine-foot snow drift. Suit papers drafted by Lieff Cabrasser LLP asserted that Claus “knew or should have known” that unusual drifting conditions made it excessively risky for his diminutive helper. “Inexcusable negligence,” said the open-minded jury with its findings.

What finally prompted to prepare a request for proposal for claims adjustment services? One elf observed, “Santa was not burned out, just burned up.” Specifically, he was:

• Sickened by “Occupy North Pole” protesters who squatted near his workshop, insisting that toys “for the 1%” be instead distributed equally rather on the basis of merit for good behavior. (He refused a compromise offer of a quality-assurance committee to define “good behavior.”)

• Fed up with litigators growing wealthy on the back of his generous spirit. In 2009, for the first time, the American Association for Justice (AAJ) formed a special Santa Litigation Group. As a result, about 250 firms nationwide established a network for exchanging document information obtained through discovery and production requests in dozens of lawsuits. Observed attorney Theodore S. Grinch of Yule & Tide, West Orange, NJ, “Public sympathy for Santa is such a big obstacle for plaintiffs to overcome, that this coordination is a must for injured parties seeking redress.”

• Angered by cynics who question his motives for spreading joy. The worst of this sort suggested, without evidence, that the toy scheme was a “front” for international drug-smuggling. Documents produced through Freedom of Information Act disclosure in 2008 revealed that for nine months, Santa was the target of a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) probe. Rumors swirled of elf-staffed meth labs in the North Pole. Right-wing activists hinted that he was an Al-Qaeda cell operative. The fact that Saint Nicholas was a Russian also drew CIA attention, even in this post-Cold War age.

• Disenchanted with cash-starved local municipalities who lamented sales tax losses from free toys.

“And so,” said a four-foot unemployed elf, “Santa is looking for a full-time in-house claims administrator.”

Mrs. Claus, ever the realist, took no comfort from the knowledge that lawyers may no longer be able to profit so easily at her husband’s expense.

“In 2012,” she predicted, “they’ll probably go after the Easter Bunny.”


Kevin Quinley CPCU, ARM, AIC is a claims consultant in the Washington D.C. area. You can reach him at or at

How to Boost Claim Productivity during the Holidays

For some claim departments and professionals, the holiday season marks a ramp-down of the pace of business. Less incoming mail arrives. The phone is quieter. Fewer lawsuits are filed and reported. Fewer emails and faxes intrude. (Your mileage may vary, again either due to the types of insurance you write or if you work for a TPA that gets overflow assignments.)

The silver lining: this temporary lull can be an excellent time for the claim staff to invest time in activities to boost productivity and get them off to a running start the next year.

For example, these include:

• Purging old materials (both hard copy and files on hard drives) that are no longer needed
• Organizing one’s desk, drawers and reference material
• Writing professional goals for the next year and embedding “ticklers” or reminders on the calendar to revisit progress on these periodically through the next year.
• Reflecting on the year that is winding down and do some “big picture” thinking about your job and career direction.
• Networking with other professionals that you had a hard time finding time for earlier in the year
• Updating your Rolodex
• Updating your resume (not while on the job, though, of course!!)
• Blocking out time for next year’s vacation and putting in your request NOW for that time off.
• Reaching out by phone, email or by card to key clients or business partners to wish then a happy holiday season and let them know how much you appreciate them.

Tip: use any “lull” presented at the end of year to catch your breath, gather yourself, get organized and get focused on what you want to accomplish as a claim professional in 2012!

The Claims Coach may scramble back up the chimney and not appear again before the end of the year, in which case, he wishes all a happy and fun holiday season!!

How do YOU use the holiday season to get ready for the next year? How have you used this time of year to catch up?

Kevin Quinley CPCU, ARM, AIC is a claims consultant in the Washington D.C. area. You can reach him at or at This post is excerpted from a forthcoming book Kevin is writing on claims productivity

Special Event Risks: It’s Called “Bedlam” for a Reason

Many moons ago, an undergraduate at Wake Forest University, notable sports victories were celebrated by students by “rolling the Quad.” Dorms would empty as undergrads sprinted toward the tree-lined Quadrangle, armed with rolls of toilet paper. Crowds would then proceed to “TP” – “toilet paper” the branches of the stately magnolia trees. (Sometimes they streaked, but that’s another story.) Athletic victories for the Demon Deacons were rare in those days, so this quaint custom was an irregular event.

Celebrating college sports victories has, in the words of TV chef Emeril, “kicked up a notch.”

At the close of the December 3rd football game between Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, delirious celebrating OSU fans swarmed the field. The in-state rivalry is an annual match-up known as “Bedlam.” That label is well-earned.

The game had national college football implications, but the after-game stampede also has risk management implications. About a dozen people were injured in the process. Some were trampled. Others jumped down a 15-foot drop to get to the field.

Rushing the field (or, in the case of basketball) the court has become a bit of a tradition in college sports after a signature or milestone victory. That milestone may become a liability and risk millstone, however, for the college or university that allows it to happen.

Doubtlessly there will be the wave of inevitable lawsuits against Oklahoma State University, alleging negligence in security and crowd control. Plaintiffs may argue that such a swarm was reasonably foreseeable and that the University could/should have taken more steps to prevent this. The University will try to show that it took reasonable precautions. It may argue that there is virtually nothing that a college can do to absolutely thwart of determination of thousands of students to rush the field.

This episode has a number of risk management implications, not just for colleges but for all those who organize and manage special events. Those events can be football games, rock concerts or Black Friday retail specials. Implications include:

• What are reasonable precautions for colleges and universities to take in preparation for such eventualities?

• Is such a fan stampede reasonably forseeable by the school

• What responsibility do the fans play in assuming risk of injury when they swarm the field or take a leap off the stands?

The rush to the field may only be surpassed by the rush to the courthouse.

Have you ever attended a sporting event or concert that got out of hand or made you feel at risk of harm? Do you think the responsibility lies with the organizer or with the participants?

The Claims Coach is …. BACK!

Claims Coach is …. BACK!

In the NFL, coaches live a perilous existence. If they don’t win, they often need to quickly find a good real estate agent. In fact, pro football joke that “NFL” stands for “Not For Long.”

I’m happy and excited to report that The Claims Coach is back!

After many years in the corporate world, I have launched Quinley Risk Associates, an insurance/claims consulting practice. Its focus will be on casualty claims, litigation management, training, writing, speaking, coaching and expert witness services.

Along with that comes the jump-start of “The Claims Coach” blog, dormant for years due to my commitment to a corporate role. Look for new blog posts to offer tips, tactics and strategies to work productively, smartly and save money (and Maalox) in handling litigation. Please also look for the resumption of risk management and claims management columns in Claims magazine.

The Claims Coach is “back in the game” and looking forward to sharing ideas with other claim and risk professionals in our vocational community!

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