not like kissing your sister – Merlin on claims settlement

In my non-lawyer world, you either win, lose or tie – and I’ve more or less applied that understanding to the claims disputes following Katrina.

Consequently, my view of a settlement agreement has been “like kissing your sister” – a tie, not a win or a loss.

Thanks to two very candid posts by Chip Merlin, I have a more enlightened perspective. Since I’m genetically predisposed to fight for a cause I believe in, I had to read each of Chip’s posts twice before the lights turned on; but, he clearly explains how settlement can be a big win, not just a win.

The first, Effective Endgame Communication, is an eye-opener or the preparation that goes into the settlement process.

Most cases resolve before a trial. While thorough preparation for trial is paramount, most of our policyholder clients want a resolution as quickly as possible and for a much as possible. Settling a case for less than its value is an easy way to get a quick resolution. Settling a case for more than its value in a short period of time is a lot more difficult, and, that is what some of our clients expect us to magically accomplish.

The second, Influence and Persuasion, goes into greater detail about his strategy.

Some may question why I would publish the “secret” to getting great resolutions from insurance companies. Frankly, if everybody practiced these principles, the world would be a lot more progressive.

The four principles of influence and persuasion are:

1. Compassion
2. Authenticity
3. Genuine Caring
4. Passion

Even with the enlightenment Chip provides, I’m still put off by the “seal” on most settlement agreements. However, I plan to read both posts several more times and hope those of you following Katrina litigation will click on the links to Chip’s posts and see why I think everyone should read them both at least once.

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