Hi! I am an instructor for AdjusterPro, and one of my favorite classes is my “Adjusting 101” class. In a previous post I talked about a popular subject covered in my class: SPOF (http://www.adjusterpro.com/insurance-adjuster-blog/single-points-of-failure ). A follow-up to this, and an integral part of my business model is another acronym: ICE, which stands for
We’ll cover integrity here, and I’ll follow up in other posts the topics of consistency and efficiency.
It should go without saying, but I will say it anyway. It doesn’t pay to be dishonest, and it’s just wrong to handle claims fraudulently. There is just too much money to be made righteously to ever be guilty of committing fraud. The staff adjuster doesn’t have this temptation like the independent does, at least not to the same extent. I will say this: if you’re ever caught committing fraud, you’ll at the very least be put on a “do-not-hire” list, and these lists are magically disseminated throughout the major cat. companies. They talk talk to each other, have worked with each other, know people over there, etc. Bedsides the “do-not-hire” possibility, you are in danger of losing your license. Do I need to remind anyone how important licensing is in today’s adjusting climate? Do you realize that every license application has the question, “Have you ever had a license revoked” or some-such? In some states you can even be prosecuted, not to mentioned sued.
So, what are the temptations:
- Bribes: some customers have such a bad attitude about adjusters that the feel they have to bribe you to get you to do your job. My customers don’t bribe me because I have already filled them with confidence that they will be treated fairly and professionally after the first contact. I never accept anything from anyone, except maybe a glass of water rarely. What do you think is going to happen if a customer doesn’t like the settlement and calls their agent and says, “And I even gave that guy (or girl) a bottle of Scotch to make sure he took care of me!” The agent will promptly report to your superiors that you accepted a bribe. Don’t be all high and mighty and sanctimonious is turning down bribes. Smile and say no-thanks, and fill them with confidence that you will treat them with fairness and integrity.
- Kick-backs: If you are a contractor and entering the adjusting business, you will be tempted to direct people to your business, or someone you know. DON’T DO IT! Even if you’re NOT receiving any kick-backs or “incentives” to direct people towards a certain contractor, it will APPEAR as if you are, and you’ll still be held liable. If you have a decal on your truck with a contractor’s name on it, cover it up. I NEVER mention ANY contractor’s name, unless I have been instructed by the carrier to refer the customer to a preferred provider list. By the way, you may be approached by contractors promising you money if you refer them, etc. I politely refuse and get on my way.
- Salvage: Any content or personal property item covered by the policy, and paid for in your claim, belongs to the carrier. It’s in the policy under salvage. Do not ever make deals with the customer regarding salvage. Its fraud, and it will be discovered ultimately. Your job is to report salvage opportunities to the carrier in the way they prefer. Is your adjusting career really worth that old couch or beat-up lawn mower?
- Inflating the claim: otherwise known as “padding” the claim. Some independents do this to bump the claim into the next highest pay grade. Some do it just to make more money. It doesn’t matter the motive, it’s still wrong and will be discovered. Now, to be honest, I usually add what I call “wiggle-room” in my estimates to keep the customer from calling me back to re-open a claim for something trivial. But this is never more than $50-100 bucks. A carrier would rather pay that than the lost man-hours used to reopen a settled claim.
These are the main topics when it comes to fraud. I can honestly say that I am not tempted by fraud, because its wrong, and I make a lot of money doing things right. And I just don’t want to risk it. Ever.
We’ll look at the second part of ICE in the next post: consistency.