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Steven W. Ebner (Medulus)
Posted on Monday, October 09, 2000 - 3:49 am:   

Lately I have been putting about 300 miles a day on my Dodge Caravan about three times a week to inspect losses. That gives me time to listen to the blues, disagree (or agree) with Rush Limbaugh, and think about the meaning of life as a catadjuster on the road.

Years ago I had a claim with Rip Torn and he took a couple minutes to explain to me that he was a "working actor" and what that meant. Rip Torn is not my favorite person and I am certain I am not his favorite person either. But his words carry a certain wisdom. It is important to consider just what it means to be a "working catadjuster" from time to time.

I have been hired for assignment because I can produce large billings, because I can "fix" what messes other adjusters have left behind, and because I will help a carrier or a vendor "catch up" after a big loss. But, although I can do all these things, I would like to think that the main reason I am a catadjuster is because I am a specialist, because I know what hail damage and ice dam damge and wind damage looks like.

I recently had a claim where the insured told his insurance company that he believed his siding was improperly installed and as a result he had water damage. I went to the loss location and observed (this was April) what looked like ice dam damage. I asked the insured when he had first noticed the damge. He stated it was "in the winter". I asked him when the siding was installed. He told me it was eight years ago when the house was built. He told me the builders had not been returning his calls. I climbed the roof and found no roof damage but found stretched gutters. I wrote a report that explained that this was a freeze claim. The carrier's manager was incensed! He wanted to subrogate the builder. The manager refused to pay the service bill and to hear anything except that this was faulty installation of siding. (There was no evidence of faulty installation whatsoever) I called the carrier and explained to the examiner what an ice dam was, the type of damage that can be expected, and how it related to this loss. I also explained that siding which was improperly installed would be likely to leak sooner than eight years. The examiner got an education; the manager may still choose ignorance.

At least one of the things I am is an expert on certain types of catastrophic claims. One of the things we as catadjusters are is experts on catastrophic loss. And guess what? We do know our catastrophes. Ignore us at your own peril.

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