Dear David: Help! The Adjuster Misunderstands the Engineering Report

Dear David,

The insurance company retained an engineer and our customer asked us for our thoughts about the report. We read it, and it seems the adjuster could be mistaken about what the engineer is saying. How could we help our customer without changing lanes?

Dear Changing Lanes,

Mistakes are going to happen, addressing them in a professional and thoughtful manner has provided us with good results and a positive reputation. The same could work for you. A technique can involve 1) recognizing the connection between the report and your work; 2) asking questions; or 3) have discussions with other licensed professionals.

  1. Recognizing the connection between the report and your work. It can be a safe way to have a discussion with the adjuster if the engineer report impacts the work you were retained to perform. If the mistake the adjuster is making has to do with the repairs, it seems like this discussion could be well within your lane as a trade professional. If after reading the report and no connection between your work seems to exist, then that could be an indication of changing lanes. If the report or mistake the adjuster is making does not impact your work, be careful not to change lanes and consider one of these other techniques.
  2. Asking questions. Seeking understanding about what an adjuster or their engineer is saying seems like a safe way to flush out understanding of all the parties involved. Mistakes that could happen in this phase include asking a question and providing your answer. The key is to only ask the question. If you are writing the word “because” that could be a sign that you are stating a position or an opinion. Phrasing the question can be a bit of an art and less of a science.
  3. Having discussions with other licensed professionals. It seems like this could be the least utilized tool to convey information and avoid changing lanes. A professional network that includes restoration contractors, public adjusters, lawyers, engineers, and various masters of trades can provide you with an opportunity to cover a lot of territory. Discussing the facts of a situation with these professionals provides an opportunity to convey a thought and avoid changing lanes. This method can convey information that frames a question that is central to an issue. For example, “I was speaking with XXXX, a licensed attorney, who mentioned that over head and profit are not subject to depreciation following the decision of [case name]. Are you familiar with this case?”

However you choose to proceed, it seems like a good sign that you are aware of the potential for changing lanes. Avoiding changing lanes that depart from your role in the loss is an important factor in maintaining a positive reputation. Conveying concepts, information, and identifying mistakes can be accomplished using a tactful approach that does not need to make the other person feel attacked.

Want to have your question, comment, or concern addressed in an article or arrange a private conversation? Send inquiries to:

David Princeton

David Princeton, CPCU, AMIM, AIC, CSRP, is the principal consultant of, an expert witness, and contributing author of Be Intentional: Culture. He attends Marquette University Law School and previously served as a director of corporate risk and as a lead claim specialist.

Advocate Claim Service takes the anxiety out of claims. Our mission is the strategic presentation of claims to get policyholders the benefits owed under an insurance policy. Claim consulting services are provided to Policyholders, Brokers, and Attorneys. As licensed insurance professionals, we have over 35 years of insurance claims experience across a wide array of coverage lines. In addition, our Insurance and Risk Management consulting practice is well suited to provide clarity to just about any insurance program.

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