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“Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens” were some of Julie Andrews’ favorite things in The Sound of Music. Adjusters have their own favorite things, but that is not usually what claims professionals grouse about to each other. It is more likely to find adjusters comparing notes about the stuff that drives them crazy. This offers more than cathartic effect. Knowing adjuster pet peeves and their hot buttons can help those who work with adjusters to foster better relationships. This includes the gamut of vendors and business partners such as defense lawyers, rehab specialists, surveillance firms, and expert witnesses. Bosses—such as claim managers and supervisors—who are attuned to what sets adjusters off may be able to avoid conflict, thereby boosting morale and employee retention.

So what sets an adjuster’s teeth on edge? Let’s explore an informal and highly subjective list I have composed:

1. Cheapskate insurance buyers. Some policyholders make insurance-buying decisions based on “the cheapest quote,” and then feign surprise when they don’t get platinum claim service. Usually things are cheaper for a reason. If you check into a Motel 6 and pay a bargain basement price, then please do not whine because the hotel lacks concierge service and a mint on the pillow. When shopping for insurance, many accounts are “all about price.” When they have a claim, it is all about service. Sorry, but those two usually go hand-in-hand—in both claims adjusting and in other realms.

2. Instant claims experts. Likely culprits are brokers on commercial accounts who become “experts” on reserves 30 days before renewal. Let’s ponder this scenario:  Broker Dopey pays scant attention to an account’s loss runs until the expiration date of the policy looms. The underwriter quotes renewal terms, but at a 40-percent increase over the expiring policy. Startled and alarmed, the broker demands to know the reason. The underwriter points to a deteriorating trend of claim reserves. It dawns on brokers that incurred loss ratio actually does impact renewal terms and they announce that the case is over-reserved. Suddenly galvanized, the broker becomes an expert on claims and reserve-setting, advising the adjuster that the number is too high. The actuary looks at the same file and tells you it is under-reserved.

3. Having to cover the actuary’s you-know-what. The problem here is claim management getting called on the carpet by the corporate gods to explain why actual loss trends did not align with the actuary’s projections. Perhaps that is easier than challenging the $600-per-hour actuary who has never touched a real-life claim file. Plaintiffs and their lawyers have the annoying habit of failing to check with corporate actuaries before filing their lawsuits. A radical notion is to go back to the actuaries and ask them to explain why their projections deviated from actual loss patterns.

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