Come to learn. Become engaged. Connect. These are the opportunities offered at the 2012 Windstorm Insurance Conference (WIND). The 13th annual event, themed “After the Catastrophe: Education for the Claims Professional,” will be held Jan. 30 through Feb. 2 in Orlando, Fla. Claims Assistant Editor Melissa Stewart spoke with WIND Executive Director Michelle Griffin for a preview of the many offerings available this year, including professional development, continuing education (CE), and networking.
How do you keep WIND fresh and exciting?
Our focus is to provide instruction on topics that are being faced in the field. If our audience wants to know how to handle and properly respond to subtle aspects of a particular topic, then our conference committee finds instructors who have experience in those claims situations. Unlike any other insurance conference or seminar, we have panelists who represent insurer, as well as policyholder viewpoints. It is very informative to learn from ‘the other side.’
In addition, our audience does not want to hear attorneys talk about the law or hear ‘war stories’ from senior claims adjusters. So, we give them new circumstances with explanations about how those new circumstances should be practically applied.
What is new this year?
WIND Appraiser Certification is the most significant new offering. Appraisals are increasingly becoming a more common forum for resolving large, complex, or contested property insurance claims. Space for this double-session workshop is limited to 100 registrants. We expect it to fill quickly because the certification will be a calling card for employment that distinguishes appraisers.
What are you looking forward to the most?
I’m looking forward to the two keynote speakers. Our opening session keynote speaker, Keni Thomas, gave a presentation at our Spring Regional Symposium in Atlanta. It was so inspiring; we took the unprecedented step of asking for an encore. The movie Blackhawk Down is based on his Army Company’s mission in Mogadishu, Somalia. His message is compelling. I am telling everyone not to miss it.
Fortunately, we have bookended the conference with former NASA astronaut Mike Mullane. His perspective on life is entertaining and thought-provoking. How many people have spent 356 hours in space where any small mistake could spell disaster?
Claims adjusters are a primary target audience. Most workshops are focused on what adjusters should do in response to certain circumstances, and what they can expect from certain decisions they make.
Appraisers and umpires should attend too. They have the unique benefit of obtaining a certification that can distinguish them from others in their field.
While we offer CE credits in several states for insurance claims adjusters, contractors, engineers, CPAs, and mediators, attorneys who attend also earn legal education credits in a very specialized field of insurance law.
How many people are you expecting?
We expect to host 1,300 to 1,600 attendees.
What are the hottest topics in the windstorm insurance industry right now?
Appraisal is a very hotly debated topic. Some insurance companies are taking the clause out of their policies. Others, that have taken the clause out, are putting it back. The methods of how to conduct an appraisal, the laws of various states regarding appraisal, and how and whether causation can be addressed by an appraisal panel are topics in which many have expressed interest.
During the conference, the physics and science of how wind impacts the component parts of roofs, windows, and doors of buildings are going to be explained by experts routinely retained by insurers and policyholder attorneys. They are going to discuss what claims adjusters should look for in the field when examining buildings, and what should be found in reports to prove whether any given hurricane, tornado, or windstorm caused damage. Last spring’s tornados offer a different type of analysis from what we have found in a typical hurricane claims scenario.
In addition, a number of new Florida statutes have been passed regarding sinkhole losses. We have added two classes that juxtapose the handling of those sinkhole claims and the changes with statutes with how windstorm claims are handled given case law and recent statutes impacting those claims.
What did the past hurricane season mean for your organization?
Hurricane Irene caused a great deal of flood losses. Distinguishing wind damage from water damage is always a topic of controversy, and we have a workshop with experts discussing the current ways to handle those losses. We also have an all-day flood adjusting course, which gives attendees Adjuster Certification for the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).