Farella’s Insurance Recovery Group lawyers regularly collaborate with and learn from different players and functions within the insurance industry.  To provide more value to our readers, we have reached out to a series of insurance brokers to create the Insurance Broker Series Q&A.Cris Christensen

Our latest installment is with Cris Christensen, Senior Claims Consultant with ABD Insurance and Financial Services.

How long have you been in the insurance industry?

20 years

How did you get into the insurance industry?

I studied about insurance in college as part of my Business Administration major and found it interesting.  After college I worked in retail clothing and gifts as a manager and associate buyer for a small chain of stores.   After six years in retail, I began looking for another way to utilize my customer service, inter-personal and negotiations skills, so I approached contacts I had in the insurance industry.  After considering the governmental side of insurance, the insurance carrier side and the brokerage side, I began my insurance career at a boutique brokerage firm based in San Francisco placing employment practices and directors and officers liability insurance.  I moved into claims advocacy seven years ago, leveraging my policy and insurance company knowledge to advocate for our insureds.

What trends are you seeing in the insurance industry or markets?

Though this is somewhat cyclical, many insurers are focusing on their budgets after a number of years of decreased premiums in some lines of business, which effects claims staffing budgets.  Careful consideration should be given to the various options at the time of placement to ensure proper levels of staffing so that the insurance carrier is properly skilled and ready to jump-in to assist an insured at the time of a claim.

What advice are you giving to clients looking to purchase or repurchase insurance?

Being on the claims side, I know first-hand that solid policy wording can mean the difference between a claim that gets covered and one that does not.  Careful consideration of the various insurance options is key.

What 2 – 3 questions do you wish your clients would ask you?

  • Does an e-mail demand trigger our policy notice requirement?
  • Is EEOC or DFEH filing a Claim under our policy, and does our receipt trigger our policy notice requirement?

How are insurance products in today’s markets changing?

Insurance carriers that understand the importance of relationships with their insured and brokers are more open to considering policy customizations that benefit clients and their businesses. This conversation is best had pre-claim and is especially important to businesses in the new economy where business models are challenging traditional boundaries.

What is the key issue you are facing as it relates to insurance products / policies today?

While some insurance carriers have smoothed their claim notice requirements under claims-made and reported policies (assuming renewal with the same insurer), the claim notice requirements remain very strict. Delayed claim notice continues to be a major challenge, resulting in lost recovery for incurred defense costs up to and including claim denial for late reporting. Understanding the claim notice requirements is key to maximizing recovery from any insurance policy.

What risks should clients be using insurance products to mitigate that they may not know they can use insurance for?

Insureds may not consider that a matter (demand letter, lawsuit, etc.) that starts out as one that might not appear to be covered by insurance, could later trigger coverage as it moves forward, so careful consideration to providing timely notice to any potentially applicable policy at the time of the claim offers the best opportunity to recover from insurance.