A Sam Friedman Must Read ….

While I was making the online rounds Saturday I noted National Underwriter Editor in Chef Sam Friedman has yet another blog entry on “the need for an iconic insurance superhero to serve as a positive role model and help improve the industry’s poor public image. That line of blogging generated Mr Friedman “a fascinating letter from Donna J. Popow, senior director of knowledge resources and ethics counsel at the American Institute for CPCU and the Insurance Institute of America.”

“Shortly after Hurricane Katrina, I was asked to do a spot on a local Philadelphia news station. I talked about what homeowners could do to get ready for a catastrophic event.

“After that spot I went to the producers and suggested to them that the real story coming from Hurricane Katrina was the work of the adjusters on the ground handling claims. They agreed with me, and asked if I could find them adjusters to speak with.

“I contacted several adjusters who I knew were handling claims in Louisiana and Mississippi. Each adjuster I contacted thought the idea was a good one–and each of their employers refused to give them permission to participate.

“As a lawyer, I can understand why; as a claims person, I was bitterly disappointed.

“As an industry we have done very little to publicize the good that we do. Usually the only publicity we get is in a law journal, where even a win for the industry is cast is a negative light because it usually means a policyholder or a claimant isn’t getting paid.

“Why shouldn’t our industry pat itself on the back for mustering hundreds of adjusters on short notice to respond to a catastrophe? Why shouldn’t the rest of the TV-watching, newspaper-reading public learn that these men and women—many of whom are volunteers—leave their families for weeks (or even months) on end to work these catastrophes, meeting with policyholders in extremely stressful situations, and diligently settling claims?…..“Our industry should stand up for itself and shine a spotlight on those who deserve the recognition, while taking appropriate disciplinary action against those who do not meet our high ethical and professional standards.”…….

This letter really says it all. In past blogs and columns, I have complained about how insurance companies are letting their lawyers tie their hands behind their backs, forcing them to play “rope-a-dope” and take a beating from critics……..

With insurers, however, the strategy seems to be to let critics keep beating on them until they just get tired and go away. Insurers never fight back.

It’s time to change that! Don’t let the lawyers gag your people! This industry needs all the goodwill ambassadors and heroes it can get!

Sam of course ended his entry with his trademark, “What do you folks think?” In a comment Sam saw fit not to publish I noted, given the documented events that happened here post Katrina, there was probably a very good reason the legal team gagged the adjusters.  This would  explain why the public (especially here in the GO Zone) views big insurance companies along the lines of child molesters. Some thoughts, like the truth on occasion, tend to hurt more than others. Sam Friedman gets an F for blogging today. Not to worry Sam, we’ll continue on as your loyal loyal readers, enjoying some of your posts while pointing out the “whiffs” on others.

Some of us actually believe the truth will set us free. In the meantime I remain a happy warrior.

What do you folks think?  😉


8 thoughts on “A Sam Friedman Must Read ….”

  1. Well, I think…

    I see Sam’s point. What he doesn’t see is how much exposure some of these insurers have when their adjusters speak. We know that from the depositions of those who are required to speak – unless their employer is successful in getting their testimony sealed, of course.

    The “beauty” of what took place following Katrina is that on the surface it looked like business as usual.

  2. What’s sad Nowdy is there are insurers that take their contractual relationships with their policyholders seriously. The likes of AIG and State Farm give them all a blackeye.

    Acting as if there is no problem solves nothing. With the internet industry commenters can pretend all is well to their hearts content…..and make themselves look silly doing so.


  3. I think he meant the adjusters volunteering their time operating the shredders and in court taking depositions Rick. I think Sam and Ms Popow would really be disappointed if they knew State Farm and others actually paid big money so what their adjusters said would never see the light of day.

    Read Sam’s entry today and see if you agree the comment I left must have stung.

    Somehow I think Dean Starkman would have fun auditing Sam’s “superhero”. :mrgreen:


  4. I was shaking my head, too, Rick, and have no idea where Sam was coming from or going with his “volunteers” – but it was definitely a trip.

  5. Insurance companies will use their regular adjusters to fill in the ranks during a big catastrophe. I was not aware that they had a right to decline this opportunity, but it is very possible that some volunteer to go.

    The contractors that work for FEMA get payed on a piece rate. I am not sure how the regular insurance folks do it.

    I know that when I was doing contract work for FEMA the regular insurance folks were generally pretty sympathetic and helpful where they could be.

  6. Cat adjusters get paid a percentage of the claim. Large claims generate big fees. We’ve found evidence the really good adjusters make six figures, up to $300K in some instances. As the work is weather dependent the resulting revenue stream is very lumpy thus you have periods of non stop work followed by long periods of relative inactivity.

    My face to face experinece with the various adjusters I encountered (2 State Farm, 1 Renfroe, 2 wind pool, 1 Lafayette, 1 Allstate) was a decidely mixed bag on “sympathy”. The Allstate guy went out of his way for me despite the fact I was not a polciyholder/claimant. The State Farm employees were very professional, the contract adjusters less so.

    Of course all the smiles and free water was preparation for the next step in the process for many people in the blanket denials of coverage.

    In the end no matter how nice the adjuster he/she can not serve two masters.


  7. As GAO pointed out, where there was flooding NFIP paid the adjusters and paid an overly generous administrative subsidy to the companies that almost certainly exceeded their flood adjustment costs even before questioning the allocation of wind damage to flooding.

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