Given the time of year, surge plans are at the forefront of claims professionals' minds. However, baby names have been at the top of my agenda.
The annual Claims Event saw three of the leading loss adjusting CEOs chew the fat over managed responses to major catastrophe events.
The Great Storm of 1987 was remembered at the Chartered Institute of Loss Adjusters lunch - many had been at the same lunch 25 years ago only hours after Michael Fish's now legendary 'porkies' blooper - and Hurricane Sandy (or Frankenstorm as it's been dubbed by some in the media) has wreaked havoc across the Caribbean and the east coast of the US.
Meanwhile, my wife is due to give birth any day now and, when I have not been planning the new year for Post events and editorial, I have been sifting through 1001 Baby Names and The Penguin Book of Names.
It's interesting how your views on colleagues, characters in TV and films, famous people and friends all inform your sentiments towards the most innocuous of names.
I cannot imagine many girls were named Katrina in New Orleans in 2005 and 2006 and, until recently, Sandy held fond memories for me.
As a young ornithologist it was where the headquarters for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds was based, as well as a song and character in the popular musical Grease.
But I am no longer conjuring up images of avocets and Antipodean songstresses when I think of the name.
The insurance, and wider financial consequences, of Sandy will take weeks or even months to tally, as concerts, sporting events and flights are cancelled and commerce shut down. The extreme weather will give rise to significant property and business interruption claims.
While Sandy's role in helping decide the forthcoming US election is unknown, although it could prove more significant than any televised debate, it is already evident, as we have learnt in the UK, that the insurance industry's response will be scrutinised in detail.
Co-operation, communication and delegation are all essential in minimising a media backlash.
It is a well-worn cliché that lessons learned from previous incidents need to be digested and acted on, but failure to learn from the good, bad and indifferent feedback of yore will give the industry more of a headache then handling a storm damage claim in Hampshire on a cold October morning with a loss adjusting induced-hangover.
In the UK, claims managers are expecting a surge that does not involve gales or precipitation. The regulatory wind of change with the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act, is still scheduled for introduction in April, despite rumblings that an October start date may be more realistic.
With six months to go, the detail - or lack of it - is a cause for concern. So, while the Court of Appeal's revised judgment in Simmons v Castle narrows the argument over one key aspect of the Jackson package of reforms (the introduction of a 10% uplift in general damages) the finer intricacies of the other measures, including qualified one-way cost shifting and a new test of proportionality, have yet to be completed and communicated, raising fears of a deluge of diktats in the coming weeks.
With this in mind the upcoming Claims Club meeting intends to look at what the industry can expect from Laspo with James Dalton, the Association of British Insurers' head of motor and liability, and Jonathan Wheeler, Bolt Burdon Kemp partner and member of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers executive committee, offering their hopes and aspirations for the shake-up.
Meanwhile, David Hackett, regulatory policy manager at the Solicitors Regulation Authority, joins a packed schedule to discuss how the SRA intends to monitor and enforce compliance with the referral fee ban commencing April 2013.
If you would like to attend the meeting, at which John Spencer, director of the Motor Accidents Solicitors Society and member of Portal Co board, and Professor Paul Fenn of Nottingham Business School, author of the Ministry of Justice report into the RTA Portal, will also discuss the portal's extension, go to the Claims Club website and register your interest.
Before I sign off I just wanted to bring to your attention to three papers on Post's sister title Insurance Hound that should be worth a look:
- Court of Appeal overrules Wilkinson v Churchill to allow proportionate recovery from an injured party
All that is left to say is that I am currently helping to curate the 2013 Motor Claims conference. We already have a few great speakers lined up, more of whom will be revealed over the coming weeks.
But remember, if you have any suggestions for hot topics you think Post should cover at Claims Club or other meetings do not be shy. I am always happy to take suggestions, no matter how loopy they may seem on paper.
Until then it's back to 1001 Baby Names.
Jonathan Swift, Claims Club chairman
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