By MATTHEW BRODSKY, senior editor/Web editor
For starters, it is often said that insurance is a relationship business. Why would that clichénot hold up for claims as well?
Part of good claims strategy is just knowing who you're dealing with on the other end of the telephone, said Bill Oklesen, vice president and manager of claims for Lockton.
"Let them know, 'I'm not trying to be the enemy. I just have a job to do. I want to get a step ahead of the issues,' " he explained. "That's why I like to personally introduce myself to claims examiners."
It's not just essential to let your insurer know you're open and cooperative. It's also important to know that your counterpart is also open and cooperative. You could be dealing with a claims person who could be an obstructionist or one to let the claim go smoothly, according to Bill Myers of RWH Myers & Co. LLC.
"If I were a risk manager, I would want to know who is handling my claims and meet him," Myers said.
Of course, once you begin that relationship with your carrier's claims people, it's essential to keep those lines of communication wide open.
"Claims is a people business. While it is essential for insurers to know the technical side of claims adjustment, to know the policy, to understand the client's occupancy, and to know the difference, for example, between a pulp and paper company and a glass bottle company, it's equally important to be collaborative with a client, seek to understand their needs and concerns, and strive to help them," said Gerry Alonso, senior vice president of claims at FM Global.
Alonso said that, understandably, no one wants to have a loss, but if one does happen, a successful outcome comes through partnering with a client, working together, sharing information and, most importantly, keeping the lines of communication always open.
"First and foremost, at FM Global we endeavor to meet with our policyholders before a loss even happens so they understand their policy and how it will respond if a loss occurs," said Alonso. "Developing shared expectations ... we do this before the emotion of dollars is involved."
Managing expectations--yes, if any claims lesson stood out, it could be this.
"Managing expectations--it's a quaint term, but it's so true," said Oklesen.
As a broker, Oklesen said, he makes sure that clients know early on what the problems could be with a given claim--i.e., the claim won't be a blank check. He points out the potential pitfalls to the carrier too.
And it's a matter of walking the proverbial mile in the other side's shoes. Both sides, after all, have what they believe to be valid reasons behind their case.
"Rarely do insurers and policyholders dig into their position just to be greedy," said David Siesko,
October 1, 2008
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