May 24, 2022

“I’d do anything for Claims — But I Won’t Do THAT…”

R.I.P. Meat Loaf.

He had more than his 15 minutes of fame. Among his (few) hit songs was, “I’ll do anything for love – – but I won’t do that.” In the wake of his passing, many have wondered what he meant by, “I won’t do that”?

What was that?

Where did Meat Loaf draw the line? (Did he draw the line at squirting ketchup on Meatloaf? Mustard?)

Let’s pivot to an insurance claim context:

For a claims person, “that” might mean:

Will not issue a check in excess of my settlement authority.

Will not bid against myself in settlement negotiations.

Will not deny coverage without RTFP – reading the freakin’ policy!

Will not send a reservation of rights letter that essentially cuts and pastes the whole policy into the body of the letter.

Will not assume that a reservation of rights letter is a “one and done” communiqué and fail to promptly inform the policyholder of the insurer’s ultimate coverage stance, after investigating the potential coverage issues.

Will not choose defense counsel based un a law firm’s “brand name,” based on the lowest hourly rate, based on who has the most lavish December holiday party or based on who is the boss’ golfing buddy.

Will not let a case go into default by overlooking a lawsuit’s Answer date.

Will not handle a claim in a any state without first reviewing that state’s Unfair Claim Settlement Practices regulations.

Will not fail to respond promptly to any time-limit settlement demand from a policyholder, claimant, attorney or excess carrier.

Will not fail to continually ask defense counsel, “Based on all the factors we know so far, what’s your assessment of this case’s compromise settlement value?”

Will not fail to diary key milestone dates on a claim file, such as trial dates, response deadlines to demands, etc. (Interlude: “Do not let your claim files languish or your meat loaf…”)

Will not assume that my employer will give me a job for perpetuity or will “take care of me,” regardless of my supervisor’s assurances.

Will not fail to keep my resume updated regularly.

Will not wait until notice of an imminent layoff or termination before networking with industry colleagues. (The best time to fix your roof is when the sun is shining!)

Will not accept reassignment of 279 Covid-related business interruption claims because the Company is too cheap to replace the last adjuster who was handling them and who just walked off the job.

Will not fail to regularly invest in my own claim skills and knowledge and will not rest on my laurels, thinking I’ve got it all figured out because I’ve been in the business for “X” number of years.

Will not assume that technology tools eliminate the need for human interaction or empathy in the claims process.

Whether or not claim professionals find true love — or a blank Proof of Loss — by the dim illumination of the dashboard lights, or whether we approach each claim like a bat out of hell, we all have our professional lines in the sand.

If nothing else, Meat Loaf reminds us of that.

Book Review: “The Right and Wrong of Writing” by Gary Blake

e-book Published by Gary Blake, Ph.D., 70 A Manor Drive, Great Neck, NY 11020, 151 pp., $39.95.

“The difference between the right word and the almost right word is like the difference between lightning and a lightning bug,” according to Mark Twain. Doubtlessly, Twain did not have in mind the profession of claim adjusting when he penned those lines, but he could have.

The arena of claim communication is sadly under-served. Most adjusters enter the job with little training or coaching on clear and appropriate claim communications. If they receive technical instruction on subject matter claim knowledge they can consider themselves lucky. As a new adjuster, I sheepishly admit that I aped the style of attorneys I worked with by starting letters with “Please be advised…” or “Attached herewith …” This may have impressed a few people but in hindsight, I’m sure such legal-ese was off-putting to many insureds, claimants and witnesses.

Filling the void here is Gary Blake’s new e-book, The Right and Wrong of Writing. The subtitle is, “Quick and Practical Answers to 91 of the Most Common – and Frustrating – Questions About Claims Writing Style.”

Author Gary Blake is a New York area consultant and trainer whose niche is the realm of claim communications. His website is
Blake understands the power of written words as wielded by adjusters. The right words can facilitate claims resolution. The wring ones can put gravel in the gears, slow down claims, torpedo settlements and even invite expensive bad faith suits.

In nine major sections, Blake covers the gamut of claim writing in 150 pages. This is an excellent resource for every insurer claims unit and TPA. The sections are short and sweet, making it easy to read and digest in manageable chunks. If the tips contained in this book facilitate one settlement or avert a single bad faith claim, the return on investment will be huge.

To write right as a claims professional, order, read and HEED Gary Blake’s new book!

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