Common Mistakes You’re Making While Documenting Claims: Q&A with Lynette Young
Documentation is a big part of your job, but oftentimes Public Adjusters miss the mark on efficiency when it comes to best practices in documenting claims. Are you dotting all of your i’s and crossing all of your t’s? How accurate and adept are you when it comes to documentation?
We sat down with ClaimWizard’s top sorceress, Lynette Young, to get the inside scoop on the importance of documenting your claim files correctly and competently.
ClaimWizard: How important is it for PAs to properly document their files?
Lynette Young: Properly documenting every PA claim file can be the difference between fully indemnifying the claim or not doing it at all. You should document every claim as if it were going to litigation. Even if a claim doesn’t end in court, you could avoid a big headache (if you are audited) by thoroughly and adequately documenting claims. Your duty as a public adjuster is to assist your client to the best of your ability, and documentation is the very first step in fulfilling that.
CW: What are some examples of mistakes that PAs make while documenting files?
Lynette: The most common mistake is not adding all forms of communication in the claim file. Emails are usually included, but texts and phone calls are often overlooked. Another one is documenting opinions, not facts, in a claim. If you find you are documenting opinions, such as the source of water entry into a structure, then it’s an indicator more detective work is needed. Lastly, all communication between your team and client should be documented in a claim file. If a client calls with questions about coverage, payment schedules, or even to confirm an appointment – it should be documented. You should also document if you are contacting the client for information, payment, or when an invoice is issued. This avoids future disputes over a LACK of communication.
CW: What are the risks involved in mis-documenting files?
Lynette: In my 26+ years of working with public adjusters, I’ve seen some sad situations that could have easily been avoided. The most common risk is having a solid claim not only denied by the insurance carrier, but not containing enough information for an attorney to take it to court. The ‘fact’ that an insurance carrier should pay a claim is not enough – there must be irrefutable documentation to prove it. Incomplete estimates, lack of communication documentation, and unprofessional conduct (documented) are some of the reasons claims fail in court.
CW: What are some best practices in proper documentation?
Lynette: Standardizing forms and letters, such as Letter of Representation, Proof of Loss, etc., can go a long way toward easing the burden of adequately documenting a claim file. Your best practice is to file any documentation related to a claim within the same day of receiving it. The longer you wait to file information, the less reliable it will become. Train your staff to follow your documentation procedures. Proper documentation is not possible when different people follow different procedures. If a mistake is found in the documentation, address (and document) it as soon as possible. It is better to find your mistake and own up to it, than try to hide it and ‘see’ if you get caught.
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