November 16, 2018

Archives for May 2013

Risk Managers: Don’t Let Evidence Spoliation Issues Become COVERAGE Issues!

All companies that might face litigation should have sound policies to preserve evidence and avoid spoliation claims. Often, this concern arises in the context of defending product liability claims but it applies as well to other types of claims, many of which qualify for insurance coverage. Assertions that a product manufacturer has lost or destroyed a key piece of evidence can cripple an otherwise sound product liability defense.

Claim Denied

There is another reason, though, to adopt sound evidence preservation policies. For an insured, spoliation has ramifications that go beyond liability. It may impact COVERAGE on a claim.

How?

First, an insurer may say that its ability to defend has been prejudiced. by an insured’s negligent or intentional spoliation of evidence. The carrier might cite the policy’s Cooperation clause.

Or, the adjuster might say that the act of spoliation is a separate occurrence, which it doesn’t insure. The insurer may issue a reservation of rights letter or seek to deny coverage, leaving the manufacturer with potentially uninsured liabilities to threaten its balance sheet.

I’m not necessarily saying these arguments have “legs” or will prevail, but … Why risk it? Why chance it?

Insurers may not be able to rely on policyholders to be schooled or steeped in the nuances of evidence preservation. As a result, claims personnel should clearly instruct insureds on the importance of it and document such communication in the file. In cases of physical evidence, the insurer or TPA should consider thwarting Murphy’s Law by taking the evidence out of the insured’s hands and relocating it to an ultra-secure location.

Take-away: sound evidence preservation procedures not only boost product liability defense, they also avoid needless and distracting coverage wrangles!

Six Ways for Adjusters to Avoid Being Late …

Like it or not, right or wrong, fair or unfair, your credibility as a claims person often hinges on keeping your commitments. Fail to be reliable in the little things can cause claimants, insureds and customers to think that you can’t be trusted on the Big Things. These “little things” include being on time for meetings, which seem to increasingly crowd the busy adjuster’s daily schedule. Honoring commitments by being on time for meetings is a small but meaningful component of building your credibility and “brand” as a reliable claims person.

Late for Meeting

How to avoid being late? Here are six tips:

#1. If you have back-to-back meetings (which is sometimes unavoidable), end them five minutes early to give yourself time to breath and to walk to the next meeting.

#2. If you encounter someone — a co-worker or one of your reports — while headed into your next meeting, politely avoid quick chit-chats. Explain to those who want to engage you, “Wish I could talk, but I’m due in a meeting in XX minutes …”

#3. If you are hosting an online or telephone meeting via a conference call, video conference or WebEx, get to the meeting place early. Get the technology (speaker phone, computer, overheads, etc.) ready before the confab begins.

#4. If you have a meeting away from your office, block your calendar for “travel time” before the meeting, allowing yourself scheduled time to get there.

#5. Similarly, if you are returning to the claims office from an offsite meeting, block your calendar for “travel time” after the meeting.

#6. Always assume that each meeting will take longer than its actually forecast. This way, if a meeting runs over, you need not be stressed out. If it wraps up on time or (god forbid!) early, you have a time bonanza to use to get an early start on the next project or task!

What tips or tactics have YOU found useful in boosting your punctuality and being on time for meetings! Share here or send to me at kevin@kevinquinley.com

If the claims business was run like the airlines …

Howard-is-Mad

* Adjusters would tell claimants and insureds to arrive at appointments two hours ahead of time … and still keep them waiting.

* Insureds would be urged to call ahead before their appraisal appointment, be told that everything was on time, and then discover a delay upon arriving

* Adjusters would require a completed Proof of Loss within 60-90 days but charge insureds $25 for each copy

* Policyholders who wanted an actual copy of their policy would have to pay $25 for it.

* Adjusters would promise claim payment arriving “in just a short while,” and they would arrive weeks, months or years later

* Adjusters would tell insureds and claimants that their loss processing would be delayed because the adjuster had to “fill out the paperwork.”

* The claims department would shut down while it waited for an office supply or computer part to be flown in … from Ecuador

* Claimants with a long claims history and Index Bureau printout would receive “Frequent Filer Points,” redeemable for a report to the National Insurance Crime Bureau database

* Insurers could change policy terms at any time to reduce coverage, but any change the insured wanted would come with a $150 change-fee surcharge

* All insurers would eventually merge into just four or five insurers and jack up their rates due to diminished competition.

How else would the insurance claims business be run if it were run like an airline? Share your thoughts here or email them directly to kevin@kevinquinley.com

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