“Different isn’t always better, but better is always different.” — Dale Dauten

Feb. 14 was the 49th anniversary of my first employment in the insurance industry. I’ve enjoyed the ride.

“Different isn’t always better, but better is always different.” – Dale Dauten

On Feb. 14, 1973, I began employment as a claims adjuster at General Adjustment Bureau (GAB) in Baton Rouge. Late that year, I handled a substantial burglary loss in the home of the manager of a major industrial complex. It was a legitimate loss, and in the adjustment process I never sensed any mischief or exaggeration by the claimant.

After interviewing the policyholder, visiting his residence, obtaining pictures of the damages, studying the police report and obtaining an inventory of the loss, I prepared my report and valuation on the loss to the regional claims manager (Vernon) for Republic Vanguard.

Vernon called to explain the “way we do things around here.” He said that, if the policyholder can’t produce a receipt on items lost, we’ll commence negotiations at 50 percent of actual cash value.

In my next report, I explained that the policyholder was a sophisticated businessman well-respected in the community and was making a legitimate claim. I explained that I believed that, if I acted as instructed, we’d be working through this claim with the insurance commissioner or a judge.

The day Vernon received my letter, he called my boss and said, “This boy is trying to trap me.”

I was not trying to trap him. I was trying to protect a policyholder and to “cover my a___ for when the s____ hit the fan.”

This company was known for ruthless claims handling. The modus operandi was to lowball the settlement offer made by the adjuster and, when things got ugly, blame the adjuster.

In the end, I was vindicated by a newspaper article on the front page of the Baton Rouge Morning Advocate that exposed the ruthless nature of this carrier.

This case was, in my opinion, an example of the “worst of times/behaviors” in our industry.

The “best of times” was demonstrated to me two years later.

I was a wide-eyed rookie producer working for an agency in Baton Rouge. We were the Louisiana administrator for the Professional Protector Plan (PPP) endorsed by the American Dental Association and underwritten by Chubb through Poe & Associates (the national administrator) in Tampa, Florida.

This PPP was tailored to dentists, and the policy was written in the language of dentistry. The PPP included malpractice coverage and flood (physician and surgeon’s floater) coverage. It was a state-of-the-art product.