August 14, 2022

Archives for July 2022

Experts — Beware the Dark Side of a “Can-Do” Attitude

“Sure, I can take this case!”

“You need the materials reviewed and the report finished in eight days?  No problem!”

As an expert witness or insurance consultant, you may feel you can accomplish anything you set your mind to.

Good for you!

Beware, though, of the Dark Side.

Do you want to accept a short-fuse big project if you lack the time and resources to devote to it?

Will the extra effort required to meet a tight deadline erode your discretionary time or compromise the bandwidth needed for your other pending cases, and personal and family commitments?

Early in my (unplanned) career as an expert witness, I accepted a bad faith case in mid-December with an expert report deadline in early January. I spent most of my Christmas vacation (sic) with banker boxes full of materials, struggling to hit the deadline. I met the deadline but resolved then that I would ALWAYS ask counsel during the initial phone call, “How extensive are the materials that need to be reviewed?”

All it takes is spending Christmas break or a Thanksgiving with case materials before you learn that lesson the hard way. That’s why this advice comes from a place of humility because yours truly has made the mistake of overcommitting more than once.

But if you can’t deliver, or deliver a half-baked work product, an attorney or law firm may badmouth you later.

And you may not even be aware of it, as new case assignments taper to a trickle.

Word-of-mouth works both ways. It can boost your practice or kill it.  It’s a double-edged sword.

December 2004. I accept a bad faith engagement with a January 5th report deadline. I had neglected to ask about the volume of case materials and receive two bankers’ boxes. I spend Christmas break plowing through documents and drafting a report to hit the deadline.

November 2008. I take on a Florida bad faith case on behalf of an insurer. While working on the case and preparing the report, I come down with what I think is the flu. Eventually, however, it morphed into symptoms of progressive numbness and tingling in my feet, legs, hands, and arms. I have difficulty walking.  No flu ever felt like this.

My wife and kids beg me to see a doctor.  I hold them off until I can put the finishing touches on my Rule 26 report. Only then do I relent and go to the nearest hospital, which admits me and diagnoses my condition as Guillain-Barré syndrome. I receive intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) therapy and am hospitalized.

I’m ashamed to disclose these vignettes.  I prioritized my “professional” responsibilities as an expert over (a) my family during Christmas and (b) my health. It pains me to look back, reflecting on choices I made to prove to myself or others that I was a “can-do” expert.  Ego is the enemy.

We all want a “can-do” attitude that characterizes go-getters.

But significant downsides confront insurance experts and consultants who overreach, unable to deliver the quality products they are capable of and that the client deserves.

Sometimes, the best answer, in the long run, is, “No thanks!”

Action Steps:

  1. Ask the prospective client for 24 hours, allowing you to step back, look at your calendar, and the range of your upcoming commitments (personal and professional), sleep on it, and get back to them as to your availability.
  2. “Commit in haste — repent at leisure.”
  3. Trust your gut if the engagement isn’t in your subject matter wheelhouse.
  4. Don’t be afraid to say, “No thanks!”
  5. If the case isn’t a good fit, recommend another expert, like another AAIMCo member!

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Thanks for reading! I’m an insurance consultant who helps clients assess claim-handling and improve outcomes through expert evaluation and testimony in high-stakes disputes. I’m particularly interested in claim productivity, claim processes, litigation management, and expert witnessing. If you have a comment or a request for a future topic, please contact me at kevin@kevinquinley.com.

 

If Insurance Claims Ran Like Airline Schedules . . .

“In light of frequent airline delays and cancellations, please arrive at the airport three hours ahead of time…”

Whoa….! Wait …what?

Does this make sense?

Lemme’ get this straight: get to the airport three hours ahead of your scheduled departure to hear XYZ airline announce that the flight is 2-3 hours delayed or, better yet, canceled.

What?

Why waste three hours at the airport when you can waste . . . five, six, or more?!

Wouldn’t it make more sense to delay getting to the airport based on an expectation that your flight will be delayed or canceled?

In an insurance claim context, it would be like the following. Your policyholder has suffered a hail, fire, or windstorm loss. You have scheduled an appointment to meet with them to inspect the damage at, say, 3 PM. But because you are running behind, you recommend that the policyholder take off work and be ready at noon.

Any customer policyholder would say, “WTF?!”

Or say that your doctor is running an hour behind in scheduling. The medical office directs you to be in the Waiting Room two hours early in light of your doctor running behind. Just in case.

(Don’t forget to bring your insurance card. Remember also to fill out and bring the forms from our patient portal!)

If I ever write a book on business air travel, the title will be, “Every flight is on Time – EXCEPT When You Get to the Airport.”

You’re told to check with your airline in advance. But invariably, when you log online, you’re told that your flight is on time. So, you dutifully report to the airport in advance, and then and only then do they feed you the truth, one crumb at a time.

“The delay is 20 minutes. No, make that 40 minutes. No, make that 90 minutes….”

“Oh, so sorry, the flight crew has maxed out its shift in the flight is canceled. We might be able to book you on something tomorrow morning, leaving at 6 AM. Would that be fine?”

Doomsday “preppers” recommend preparing a “bug out bag” with three days of survival supplies such as food, water, medications, etc., in case of emergency or a Zombie Apocalypse.

Perhaps airline passengers should consider the same before the three-hour pre-flight arrival time.

For now, however, I’m not taking any chances. I’m going to wrap up this post because I’m on my way to the airport for a flight scheduled for departure. . . on Friday.

What is YOUR “favorite” airline delay story?

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Thanks for reading. I am an insurance consultant who helps clients assess claim-handling and improve outcomes through expert evaluation and testimony in high-stakes insurance disputes. I am particularly interested in optimizing claim professionals’ productivity, litigation management, and expert witnessing. If you have a comment or a request for a future topic, don’t hesitate to get in touch with me at kevin@kevinquinley.com

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