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Having recently spent some time in a claim factory cranking out routine bodily injury claims in a major urban area, your image-breaking correspondent has an ever-increasing appreciation for the modern auto insurance claim adjuster. If auto is the major or only line an insurer writes, these bright, friendly, mostly young men and women working as staff adjusters and unit managers must live with a daily regimen of disasters. Those range from drunk drivers committing mayhem on the highways, a confusion of foreign-language-speaking insureds and claimants, indecipherable medical and police reports (penmanship is a lost art), claims involving smashed fenders, interrupted plans, and ill tempers.

They also deal with a regular dose of what has become known in the industry as LIST claims. These are low impact soft tissue auto injury claims where the damage was barely visible to either car. The police report — and maybe the insured’s initial report — might even state that nobody was injured, but a week or so later along comes a letter from an attorney alleging that so-and-so and her seven kids who were in the back seat were severely injured and are under the care of an expensive physician. The claims may be third-party or first-party uninsured or underinsured motorist, or a combination of both. This is common when liability is not crystal clear. (Some insurers may refer to these as “MIST” claims — minimal impact, soft tissue.)

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