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Property Loss Adjusting, 2 vols.

Property Loss Adjusting, James J. Markham (Insurance Institute of America, 1990). Reviewer: Charles W. Huntoon, Risk Management and Insurance, La Salle University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Property Loss Adjusting, is a two volume text designed for use in the Insurance Institute of America's AIC 35 course, one of four courses and national examinations in the Associate in Claims (AIC) designation program. The text orientation is for the training of professional claims adjusters.

The beginning paragraph of Chapter 5 captures the essences of the scope, purpose and content of the text:

"Anyone who has chosen property claims adjusting as a career soon discovers that it is

a complex, highly technical field. As a result, the property adjuster must have a broad

base of knowledge: he or she must know the general law applicable to insurance,

contracts, and torts; the adjuster must also be knowledgeable in the areas of building

estimating, personal property valuation, accounting, and investigation, and must

understand how to utilize experts in these areas. In addition, all adjusters must be

familiar with the unfair claim practice statutes and the general law concerning good

faith claim handling." The texts attempts to provide a comprehensive overview and guide to the entire claims adjusting process with suggested procedures, forms and chapter summaries. The central theme is that the claim adjusting process is a pivotal point of the success of the entire insurance industry. This is illustrated by various tie-ins which relate to fundamental insurance principles, particularly insurable interest, the principle of indemnity and the historic nature of loss experience. A brief commentary is made as to the behavior and overall expectations of the insured public and the interaction which tends to take place with the claims adjuster. Warnings and cautions are pointed out to the claims adjuster reader stating that proper methods and procedures must be followed. In the event that the claims adjuster fails to comply, the insured public will be dissatisfied and also may file suit under the unfair claims practices statutes.

Basic techniques are discussed briefly regarding methods of tracking fraudulent claims, such as arson. It suggests that the claims adjuster must always be on the lookout for dishonest behavior. Procedures for collecting significant data are outlined for the adjuster when he makes his various inspections of a loss on the site of the loss. Volume II focuses on the calculations for determining the actual loss and the process used to arrive at a negotiated settlement with the insured.

Although the text is must reading for an individual interested in a profession as a claims adjuster, it misses its target audience by not giving enough clear cut illustrations of actual case studies. The theory of basic principles married to the illustration of how to practice the actual adjustment process would make this text powerful in the field. The result would be the clarification of many of the facts discussed and a greater capacity for the professional adjuster to quickly grasp and apply these techniques.

As to academic students of insurance, they would clearly appreciate and benefit from the detail which the author presents as to the application of basic principles to the claims adjustment process. The student receives an extensive overview of coverage, basic principles and their application, and the entire claims adjustment process. The use of the text is applicable in an introductory course with the purpose of giving an indepth overview of the many integrated aspects of insurance and claims adjustment practice. However, the text leaves the student overwhelmed with concepts, forms and calculations of square footage using geometry and without providing the necessary preparation needed to tackle a real claim case. Even a professional adjuster cannot expect to become an expert in all contractual issues, insurance principles, loss adjustment practice, impact of building codes, and fraudulent claim investigation by reading this text, although the author makes a good attempt to convey all of these facts.

A more focused approach to specific claims adjustment tools, techniques, and examples, leaving the fundamentals to a prerequisite course would improve the practical impact of the text on its target audience.
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Author:Huntoon, Charles W.
Publication:Journal of Risk and Insurance
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Mar 1, 1991
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