Windstorm Insurance Conference 2016 - Overview of a Very Successful Event

Windstorm Insurance Conference 2016 - Overview of a Very Successful Event

The 2016 Windstorm Insurance Conference is in the history books.  A final count determined over 1,050 claims professionals were in attendance in Orlando, Florida.  Registrations exceeded a lot of folk’s expectations this year given the lack of a major Cat event in the southeast. But this year’s success goes to show that the Windstorm Insurance Network, Inc. has evolved into much more than a regional conference. Super Storm Sandy is a reminder that there are shared experiences with other parts of the country and as the old saying goes, “knowledge and information is power.” The WIND Conference is in my opinion the place to go to enable professionals to enhance their skills and knowledge about property insurance matters. 

This year’s conference started out with a great night of networking in the exhibition hall with the exhibitors who had their trade booths set up offering various services and products that cater to the professionals who are involved in the insurance loss adjustment process.

These networking opportunities are invaluable since it allows attendees to visit with old friends, meet new folks, and for me to tell and hear a lot of the old war stories about past Cat events and other large loss claims including reminders about spirited negotiations of prior clients’ losses. It’s surprising how these stories and the memories they come from evolve over time. Frankly, some of the stories are like the fish that got away, they seem to get bigger with each passing year. But it’s all in fun and helps all of us to cement relationships and good will. 

But back to the conference; new to WIND this year was a well organized magazine titled “2016 Show Guide” that was handed out at registration. It had all the conference information including classes offered and class locations, but in addition there were several well done articles on trends in various claims related disciplines. One that stood out for me was an article about trigger dates for a date of loss in different types of loss damage scenarios. In the trade, we are often faced with a question of the “date of a loss” which at times can be problematic for both the insured and the insurer.   Take for example the question of when a loss happens that may not be apparent due to hidden damages or conditions that may precipitate a loss to insured property but are unknown to the policyholder.  Is the date of record of a claim when the damage occurred unknown to anybody or is it the manifestation date when the insured actually finds out about a dangerous condition? 

As this article points out, states vary on their interpretation of this important question of when a loss occurs that may be covered in a property insurance policy.  Another article was about a well-known and very successful American corporation that was used to highlight how to adopt successful strategies and tactics to ensure your business success. The magazine also featured various Wind Professional Certifications, such as the “Wind Fellow” and “Associate Fellow” designations along with other professional designations that are in my opinion resume builders that help successful achievers set themselves apart from the their competition.

This year, I also had the opportunity to meet Nancy Dominguez, the Director of FAPIA (Florida Association of Public Insurance Adjusters). Nancy has done a superior job of running this organization and truly advances it on a path of long-term sustainability.   My hat is off to Nancy, a very nice, professional lady, whom I and several other folks had the opportunity to enjoy a photo op with at the FAPIA booth in the exhibition hall. I wish Ms. Dominguez all the best and extend my best wishes for her and FAPIA’s continued success.

Regarding the class workshops, I was on a panel with three other faculty members in a double-session to recertify our WIND umpires and thus lost out on the ability to attend all the classes I wanted to take.  However, the classes I did attend were excellent.  As an aside, it’s interesting to me that the recertification class for umpires was full. That tells me that being a Certified Wind Umpire is viewed as a necessity in the market for this type of professional service.  Again, a resume builder for some very experienced professional folks.

One class I attended was chaired by two experienced and respected attorneys--one a defense attorney and the other a plaintiff’s attorney that dealt with the issue of fraud.  My question to both of these gentlemen was to ask why have two employees of the State of Florida, one the head of Citizens Insurance Company and the other the outgoing chief of the Office of Insurance Regulation both publicly issued multiple statements about fraud on the part of some attorneys and contractors (think A.O.B.), yet no one is ever prosecuted?  Both attorneys replied with similar answers that in their view the State does not want to or have the time or resources to arrest and indict folks engaged in property insurance fraud.  That is simply amazing to me!  What a great signal this sends to practitioners--the cash register is open, come on in as no one cares! Think what the public would say and do if they connected the dots on this with the high insurance premiums they are paying!

Another excellent class was the Florida Case Law Update workshop. New presenters this year and both attorneys obviously were well prepared. They presented all the various legal cases in a straight forward and easy to understand manner. You can miss a lot in a year. My take away from the class was the amount of money that has been spent litigating sinkhole claims; the lawsuits tally is simply amazing. In my view, the amount of litigation on this peril is directly related to the lack of hurricane events.  Same thing applies to the water damage claims--no hurricanes or other mass catastrophic events in the last 10 years and folks are looking at anything they can find to make a buck.

While I could go on about this conference, I want stick with a few closing points.

1.  I keep hearing from people that the WIND conference format is in large part what motivates them to attend.  The networking as well as the diversity of attendees stands out. Having insurance professionals from all sides serve as faculty and be officers and members of the board of directors is a big plus and has much to do about the success of the conference. 

2.  Once again this year, I witnessed folks in settlement discussions during breaks and at other open periods. Often times this type of format will allow people to move cases along that otherwise would not have happened given the trench warfare mentality of some controversial losses. Sit down with your opponent in the natural setting of the WIND Conference and settlements have a good chance of happening. It worked for us this year on a significant condominium fire loss.

3.  On a personal note, my homeowners/auto insurance was not renewed this year because a much larger company bought out my current insurer. I had been on the phone with the agent prior to the conference and had some anxiety about the proposal I was given. So while standing at the bar waiting for a glass of wine, I started talking to a guy beside me and after preliminary introductions asked him what he did and who he worked for. His answer was that he worked for an insurance company, and then the other shoe dropped.  As it turned out, this gentleman was in charge of the Private Risk Services/AVP Premier Manager department of the carrier I was concerned about. This title means he was the head claims person for his company’s top of the line homeowner’s insurance policy products. This was the policy my agent wanted to move me into.

But here is the deal.  This gentleman sold me on his company as he could not have been a better ambassador. We talked at length about their claim services, etc., and at the end he said he hoped I would go with his company who take good care of all their policyholders. There is no way I would have met this guy but for a chance meeting in a hotel at the WIND Conference.

4.  This year I had the opportunity to renew a relationship with an attorney I had not seen for some time. He is the incoming President of the Florida Bar Association. We now have a lunch date set up for next month. Now that’s a good contact, all because of networking at the WIND Conference.

5.  Finally, I was very surprised and pleased to listen to WIND’s President John Doan read all the attributes of this year’s recipient of the Windstorm Insurance Network, Inc. Presidential Recognition Award, who was none other than my son, Rick Tutwiler.  I know Rick worked hard and his peers took notice.  I’m very proud of Rick and in addition to this award he also has moved up the ladder into a Board position as Secretary of this fine organization.

In closing, a lot of work goes into this conference. The faculty is all volunteers and of course there is the cost for attendees to travel and pay conference and hotel fees.  But the Windstorm Insurance Network has paid off for the folks from Tutwiler & Associates Public Adjusters. We look forward to seeing you at next year’s WIND conference.  

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