A Recap of the 20th Windstorm Insurance Network Conference

A Recap of the 20th Windstorm Insurance Network Conference

The 2019 Windstorm Conference held at the Walt Disney Dolphin Resort hotel was a new milestone on several fronts. This year was the 20th anniversary of an organization that was founded based on the realization that claims professionals from all different professional disciplines can meet, exchange and debate ideas, and help to formulate best practices to help insured policyholders struggling to recover from catastrophic events. 

As the representative for the public adjuster industry on the founding Wind Board of Directors, I am very proud to have been a part of this organization which has included my attendance at all 20 conferences, a faculty member at every yearly event, plus mid-year seminars held from time-to-time in various cities around the country.

And who would have thought back in 2004 when I was Wind’s President that my son, Richard P. “Rick” Tutwiler P.C.L.A., would now hold the same office at the conclusion of this year’s event. I’m so very proud that Rick climbed the ladder and was honored by his peers to ascend to this very prestigious insurance organization and now serve in this leadership role as President of Windstorm Insurance Network.

This year’s conference was a sold-out event and the folks who manage this conference for Windstorm (Meeting Management Group Inc.) had to establish wait lists for folks who missed the registration for the classes they wanted to attend in the hopes that some seats would open up, allowing them to enter pass the door monitors. Again, another super job by the Meeting Management Group!

As I mentioned, to my surprise some classes required the attendees to have pre-conference issued ticket stubs to prove they had been pre-approved to get in the doors of some of the classes. This was the first time I have seen this at the Wind Conference. This was particular note worthy of the Appraisal Certification Class, the Appraisal Re-Certification Class, the Umpire Certification Class and the Re-Certification Umpire Class, the latter which I served as a faculty member.

Another milestone for the conference was that over 500 new first-time attendees were attending this conference.  While I suspect the recent hurricanes of the last two years, with Hurricane Irma and Maria in 2017, and Hurricane Michael in 2018 played a part in these folks seeking the latest updates on best practices and procedures dealing with all the losses in the Caribbean and the Eastern United States, the educational opportunities, networking with peers play a big part in this year’s conference success with record attendance.

And let’s not forget the old guard is changing in that the gray-haired folks are being replaced with newbies and a new energy. There is so much history and institutional knowledge at the Wind conference. So, hats off to the new generation who dedicated their time to learn with the best of the best.

While there is so much to write about with all the classes that are offered, particularly given the fact you have such great instructors that make up the faculty at Wind, I do want to comment on some new news that was of interest to me. As mentioned above, I was very surprised to see all the interest in the appraisal and umpire classes given such large number of attendees who were trying to get admitted to these classes to get certification in these two areas of property insurance.

While these classes have been around for a number of years, the interest this year was a surprise to me, but the question was why? Then I was informed at the conference that one large insurer was planning on putting in place a fast track program to get unsettled losses (most of which I assumed were in litigation) into a more expeditious and less costly forum to close-out thousands of claims still pending from the 2017 and 2018 hurricanes. This news certainly speaks to the peer-to-peer networking at the Wind Conference, something I would not have known about had I not attended.

So, my guess is that the word is out on the street and the professionals have picked up on this and are getting their credentials in order to compete for this business.

This leads me into a general session forum I was asked to participate in as a past President.  Five of WIND’s past presidents volunteered to answer the question:

If you could change one thing about windstorm adjusting, what would it be? Well folks I must admit, I struggled for days to come up with a thought or solution to make things better and it always came back to the same thing. There were simply to many things that needed to be improved on to help the policyholder recover when waiting on their insurance proceeds to pay for their covered loss.

But then it dawned on me. Considering the attention and interest in the dispute resolution process classes (i.e. appraisal and umpire) that might be an area that needed change for the better. So my statement to the general assembly at Wind in the Past Presidents forum while in no way is a panacea, nor does it serve as an all-encompassing solution to the often lengthy and often complex claim adjusting process, it does speak to a key theme of this conference with all the interest in the appraisal and umpire world of conflict resolution in the claim adjusting process.

Here is what I said:  The one thing I would like to see changed in the wind claim adjusting process is as follows. In part, given the large turnout for the appraisal certification classes at Wind this year, the attendees are telling us the appraisal process is expected to be a significant factor going forward in the claim resolution process. 

Fortunately, appraisal has in so many respects replaced a lot of the unnecessary litigation and its adversarial and time-consuming nature. However, when the appraisal process fails, the results can carry some very bad consequences which at times have been detrimental to the policyholder, the insurer, and in some cases the participants in the appraisal process.

Changes in the appraisal process need to focus on determining what the loss is, in a professional manner with the participants striving to work together, avoiding the bickering, posturing, and the adversarial approach that leads to what some feel is an outcome that requires a winner or a loser regardless of the facts of the case. The cost for this conduct may well result in possible lost reputations, and in some cases careers.

So, we will see what happens.  Time will tell if folks will get behind a fair and expeditious process to resolve the many claims that are still out there and bring some relief to folks still struggling to get their lives back together.

Finally, my congratulations to Dan Heyer, an engineer by profession, who was this year’s recipient of the Max Mayfield Award which was certainly justified given all of Dan’s hard work over the years; including serving on WIND’s first board of directors, attending and serving as a board member, and faculty member in every conference from the beginning.  Dan is an excellent engineer, mentor, and good person. Was so glad Dan and his wife Jane could attend in person along with Mr. Mayfield to receive this award.

I also want to congratulate Brent Winans for receiving this year’s Wind Presidential Recognition Award, a well-deserved honor. as in addition to his professional service as a faculty member, Brent stepped up and took on WINDs complex underwriting insurance coverage issues and placed the necessary coverage so WIND could continue the great educational services it has for the past 20 years.

One final note about this conference that I would be remiss to not mention is the first “Women’s Panel” in the general session. A very talented group of professional women discussed issues they faced in the insurance and related workforce. They highlighted past discrimination issues as well as pointing out the positive changes that have occurred as well as the changes needed in the future. This was a very well-done, thought provoking panel.

In my view, these ladies could hold their own in any setting and as well as any person of the opposite gender.   

In closing I extend my congratulations to the WIMD organization, its Officers, the Board of Directors, committee chairs, faculty members and Meeting Management Group Inc. for another outstanding professional and successful conference.

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