April 18, 2019

Practice Tip #6: Realize the Insured’s Psychic Investment in Claim Defense

Aerosmith sang ” Hey j-j-jaded …” in its song titled (what else?) . . . “Jaded.”

Bored

Becoming jaded is an occupational hazard that adjusters must be aware of and guard against, however.  After handling hundreds or thousands of claims over weeks, months and years, we can start to take a ho-hum attitude about new claims that come along.

To us, it’s another claim.

To policyholders, it’s their Baby.  This is particularly true when it comes to product liability claims. So much of their corporate existence is tied up with the product. It’s not just a product.  It’s the reason for their existence.

It’s not like an automobile accident involving a fleet truck or car.

It’s not like a slip and fall claim.

It’s different.

Product liability claims are often emotionally charged by virtue of the policyholder’s psychic/emotional investment in defending the product as a tangible personification of its corporate identity.

The insured has not only a financial but also an emotional investment in its product and in defending it.  Emotions can run high, especially when the insurer wants to settle and the policyholder wants its day in court. 

These emotions can erupt even before the fork in the road moment in choosing between settlement or defense. They can surface right at the outset of the claim when the insured once a $600 in our law firm to defend them in the insurance company wants to pick from its own panel of defense counsel, who bills at $175/hour. The insured enters the fray with a “spare no expense” attitude. The insurance company and adjuster often enter the fray with an attitude of, “let’s see what’s most cost-effective.”

This dynamic impacts the financial outlay to defend the claim. This isn’t “just another case.” To policyholders, they’re often in a fight for survival.

As claims people, it’s tempting to view these files like “crates on a loading dock” — just another claim. 

The insured views the files like rare antiques. 

We should handle the claims like that. 

It’s okay to life Aerosmith. If you’re going to handle and manage product liability claims harmoniously, however, we must guard against the professional peril of becoming … j-j-jaded

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