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Rj (Rj)
Posted on Friday, July 07, 2000 - 2:08 pm:   

Exploring Injuries

As in all professions there are hazards that we are exposed to on an every day basis as we continue to work in the field. Depending on what we are doing the risk & degree of injury will depend upon the circumstances at the time your accident occurs. To avoid an accident one will have to maintain an awareness of his environment at all times. Still unforeseen conditions occur that unvariably will lead to an accident.

When an accident occurs many people express their feelings of concern for the injured party & opinions on how we all might avoid similar fates in the future. It is only natural to sympathize with the injured party & offer guidance to avoid a repeat of similar events, however, a discussion has never taken place as to the under lying causes that contribute to these events. While business is slow this may be a perfect time for us to begin a new discussion on this topic.

Let us begin with a brief outline of some of the hazards that face us during an inspection of a risk.
1. Falling off a roof
2. Falling through a floor
3. Ceiling falling on you
4. Falling through a ceiling from an attic
5. Bad dog attack (could be family pet that for some unknown reason attacks)
6. Snake or insect bites
7. Exposure to hazardous materials & chemicals
8. Unruly insured (this one can come out of nowhere)
9. Falling in a hole in the yard (erosion of soil under lawn)
10. Stepping on a nail.
11. Being cut by a protruding piece of broken glass or sharp object
12. Tripping
13. Falling down a set of stairs
14. Electrical short
15. Anything else you might think of? Please add your thoughts

This list of possible hazards could probably go on and on. However, there is one hazard that is hardly ever discussed. That hazard is your frame of mind. To understand what I am referring to we need to realize that accidents do & will happen that are out of our control. That is to say if you are in the wrong place at the wrong time the odds of you being injured are a safe bet. However, many accidents leading to an injury may or may not occur depending on your state of mind.

Along with all other preparations for a storm event you must also prepare your mind for the task ahead. First thing you do upon receiving an assignment is to change gears (mentally). You will have to do a lot of things in a very short period of time & get to the event location, setup & be prepared to begin work almost immediately upon arrival.

At this point most of us in this profession know & understand that our plate (so to speak) is full. For the most part the day to day pressure & stress is manageable. Now as of late even a higher degree of pressure is being placed upon us by the vendors & carriers. These pressures take the form of lower file count, shorter assignments, faster file closings & lower service fees.

Now it appears that many accidents are occurring and the main question comes to mind "WHY"? By some of the accident descriptions the accidents occurred as a direct result of not being careful. Another disturbing factor is these accidents are happening to seasoned adjusters.

Could the answer lie with our minds being preoccupied with the new demands of the carriers & vendors?

Is it possible that along with the normal challenges of our profession we now are faced with such a high degree of new problems to solve that we are beginning to become so preoccupied with these new problems to the point that we are becoming careless?

Or are we just becoming careless?

The answers to these questions may never be answered. While we are all, so to speak, in the same boat we none the less all have different circumstances that we live our lives by. So what might be the right answer for you may not apply to the next person.

I don't know if there is any correlation to speed of turning files and these accidents that are occurring as of late. However, as an example do you recall not to long ago a well known pizza company promised your pizza order was free if not delivered in 30 minutes or less. Now this idea caught on and the company became very successful. However, the drivers under pressure from the company began to take risks to make that speedy dead line and accidents began to occur. Unfortunately one of these accidents resulted in a death. The parties to the accident went to court and the company was found at fault for creating policy that lead to the accident which caused a death. Needless to say the pizza company no longer has speed of completing an assignment by a specified time in their company manual.

As shown in the above example the job that the driver is suppose to do is delivery the pizza. The drivers frame of mind should only be on the task at hand. The courts have decided that placing an increase of performance requirement on the driver had the effect of changing the drivers frame of mind causing the driver to take careless chances which ultimately lead to the accident.

With lower fee schedules, fewer files,, shorter assignments & faster file closing requirements
the following question comes to mind:

Are the vendors &/or carriers contributing to an adjuster's altered frame of mind? If so could this ever be determined as a contributing factor in these accidents that are occurring? If this all turns out to be true then the big question is could the vendors &/or carriers be found liable in a court of law for damages?

In the beginning of this discussion the purpose of this thread is to explore the reasons underlying the causes of these accidents which are causing injuries & death to adjusters. The purpose here is not to point fingers at any one vendor, carrier or individual. The purpose here is to explore the underlying reasons and hopefully come up with some answers. The aim is primarily to enlighten everyone that adjusters are not superhuman and that there are limitations as to our abilities.

Now is the time for the vendors & carriers to do a reality check. Stop adding things to the adjusters mental plate that in effect have nothing to do with the task at hand. Provide adequate time to complete files. Create a minimum file count standard which would guarantee an income level that would at the very least provide for home & on the road expenses. Stop running your numbers contest to find your highest closed file producers sending everyone else home early. Have a little understanding of just what an independent adjuster must go through just to make ends meet. Last but not least stop going in after an event & block off all available housing for your staff & insured's with out including the independent adjusters housing requirements. Adjusters have had to leave assignments for this reason. Adjusters can not work out of their cars in the street.

Even if just these few things were addressed the removing of these burdens off of the catastrophe adjuster minds may clear their minds of these problems allowing the adjusters to concentrate on the task at hand in a much clearer state of mind. Who knows with less problems to deal with maybe there would be fewer accidents & a higher production of closed files not to mention better customer service. After all your insured's claims are all that we should be concerned about until the assignment is completed isn't it?

So if you are so inclined let us begin this discussion.

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