Uninvited

Uninvited

I was recently asked to speak at a regional claims conference. Two days later, I was uninvited.

The reason? I’m have an adjuster’s license.

At first I wasn’t really bothered by it. I’m a busy guy. I wasn’t overly excited about paying for a plane ticket, hotel room and other travel expenses involved in attending a conference in another state. I anticipated out of pocket costs exceeding $2,000.

I also have a business to run. I’m incredibly busy writing Xactimate estimates for contractors across the country. Taking two days away from producing sheets was guaranteed to reduce the ROI of speaking at the event into the negative. I’m not an in-demand speaker (yet). Folks don’t pay me to go anywhere.

It’s been a couple weeks now. I should be over it. But I’m not. I’m still bothered. Maybe telling this story will help me let it go.

I wasn’t uninvited to the conference simply because I have an adjuster’s license. The real reason is that I have experience adjusting claims for HOMEOWNERS. That’s right; I’ve done some public adjusting. And because I have been a public adjuster, my opinion (and presence) was not welcome at a claims conference.

It sounds more ridiculous and short-sighted after I type it.

Public Adjusters Not Welcome

That’s about the jist of it. I can’t help but feel a kind of discrimination. No, I’m not a minority. I’m a white male, born in the United States. Yet my opinions and presence is not welcome because of who I am.

To be clear, simply being licensed as a “General Adjuster” in the state of Oregon doesn’t necessarily make me a “Public Adjuster.” There is no differentiation between PAs and IAs in my state. I could just have easily said I was an Independent Adjuster without being dishonest. I’m sure that if I worked for Mclarens or Crawford there wouldn’t have been any problems. (Actually, my employer might have payed for my trip)

Instead, I explained my role(s) in the industry as best I could. I write Xactimate estimates for contractors and homeowners. I charge an hourly fee for my services and my clients are happy to pay it. I also provide large loss consulting for other claims companies and construction consultants. And yes, I’ve tried to adjust losses — mostly unsuccessfully. (if you want to hear those stories, send me an email)

I discussed possible topics for “my” speaking engagement with the nice young lady who was eager to fill the breakout sessions for the upcoming conference. I told her more about what I do every day and we worked out a rough outline for my talk.

I told her how I routinely write estimates which are DOUBLE what the insurance carrier’s initial offers. There aren’t any black hat tactics or secret tricks; just looking at a loss from a different perspective.

That Sounds Great

Why thanks! I think so too. I would think that adjusters and carriers would be interested to learn what the “other side” of the claims process looks and feels like. No one likes to see their reserves blown out of the water.

Who wouldn’t want to better understand the claims process and how it affects their work? Well, it turns out that a couple hundred “claims professionals” don’t care to learn about what I know. Or, more accurately, my anticipated message was deemed too risky to share with an audience of claims adjusters and underwriters.

Pity. I think I would’ve been awesome.

Risk and Innovation

Innovation is risky. That’s the jist of the book The Innovator’s Delima (Clayton Christensen). The larger and more established a company, or industry, the lower it’s tolerance for risk is. The very nature of large structures is risk aversion and a high degree of outcome control.

New ideas, or anything not previously vetted by upper management, are dangerous to the status quo. It is highly likely that presenting a topic which shown some light on systemic problems within the industry would be met with either a high level of resistance or completely ignored. Neither of which is a useful way to expend energy.

That’s the real problem though. We have an entire industry living in a state of willful ignorance. Outside opinions (and public adjusters) are actively avoided and ignored. Meanwhile TPAs, claims “consultants” and lawyers are bilking carriers by promising to lower “claims severity” and reduce claims costs.

The reality is that they’ve all found a way onto the gravy train by vilifying the very folks who do all the heavy lifting: contractors and insureds. Think about it. What incentive does an SIU lawyer have to find that there was no wrong doing? Zero. That would be bad for billable hours.

I have seen firsthand what happens when lawyers and the SIU department get into a case that has a slight chance of fraud. Months and hundreds of thousands of dollars later, we all end up in court. And who wins in court? Lawyers.

How much could be saved by taking a more favorable view of your clients? No SIU salaries, no lawyer fees. Heck, no PAs because the insured actually feels like they are being treated fairly! Wow, that’s a thought.

Personally, I would love to live in a world where my services weren’t needed. I can find something else to fill my time for sure.

Innovation from Outside

Change is coming whether we all want to acknowledge it or not. Keeping a little adjuster like me away from the microphone won’t make a lick of difference.

Companies like Lemonade and Zenefits are already going full steam ahead into the market. Believe me, they’ve got zero romantic notions about keeping claims personnel employed into the future. Or agents, or any of us for that matter.

“Forget Everything You Know About Insurance,” is says on Lemonade’s home page. Yep, that about sums it up. What’s the scariest thing people can tell their government? “We don’t need you.” That’s what their customers are telling their current insurance companies.

And that’s it. I’m glad I finally got that out. I do feel better.

For all ya’ll still reading, thanks for coming along for the ride.

For those who are afraid of outside opinions, good luck. I’ll be over hear riding the wave called “the future.”