Most independent insurance adjusting offices utilize deploy common practices upon acceptance of an assignment. The adjusting firm is usually required to make contact with some combination of insured, claimant(s) and or witnesses, if any, within the same or next business day.
Its generally acceptable to handle the loss acceptance for typical common loss perils (such as hail or wind) via email (if available) or a phone call. It seems perfectly normal that this is the standard for most every adjusting firm, but what about larger losses that are known to be in excess of $50,000.00? What provides for an adequate amount of protection without sparking the insureds interest in retaining counsel or a public adjuster? In other words, we look to find a good balance between a professional appearance and professional behavior.
Though its the insureds every right to have counsel, it is no secret that attorneys and public adjusters drive the claim dollar through the roof, and more often than not out of the adjusters hands. In the case of an independent adjuster, this can even mean the loss of clientele.
If you have been assigned a file with an expected loss of $50,000 in the property & casualty or liability fields, and arent working under a third party administrator then you need to consider writing a claim acknowledgement letter to the parties involved, for the protection of the insured, your client and your own self.
A Classic Example.
Here is an example of what that letter might look like:
Dear Mr. Claim Rep,
ABC Adjusting company acknowledges receipt of your claim number 55-A88-10 and will be contacting the insured to schedule our tentative appointment. Adjuster Smith has been assigned your file and his email is AdjusterSmith@domain.com. Please contact Mr. Smith if you have any questions related to the file and our further report will follow. Thank you for this assignment
[Claim Representative First & Last Name]
[Company or Office Signature]
Here are some simple improvements and preventative procedures to consider when addressing a letter of acknowledgment to the claim carrier or third party representative who assigned the loss to you:
- Provide some moderate liability protection by addressing your letter from the viewpoint that a false bad faith suit is expected from your client; something Ive never experienced but not unheard of. Its imperative to address your impartiality and lack of bias in help relieve this pressure. This can be done by simply adding something along the lines of our investigation will be made without bias of the parties involved and based only on the facts discovered.
- Be sure to address the loss peril, loss address and named insured in your letter of acknowledgment. This lowers your liability on a multitude of levels prior to investigation and continues to hold as a valuable preventative so long as its addressed again in your formal report. This essentially ties together the first and last of your documentation, and helps to ensure your documents will not be mis-placed or lost. It also shows your client that you read the loss notice carefully. Why would the loss address matter? Suppose you reviewed a loss by meeting the contractor while the insured were out of town. A few weeks later youre talking to the insured because their contractor disappeared with some money and left them with an unfinished job. The next thing you know, he had you looking at a different property next door and had switched the house numbers. There are all kinds of reasons for detail!
Address any and all concerns upfront and immediately. As an independent adjuster or any insurance claim professional, addressing any immediate concerns you have about the file at the earliest possible time is usually the best route. Often times, there is an over-rated sense of urgency when dealing with simple losses and its easy to let something slip by. If your client hasn’t addressed a particular point that seems of concern, such as whether to take a witness recorded statement or obtain an affidavit, then be sure to address it squarely. Most insurance carriers and their in-house counsel have a method of dealing with this issues.