Engineers, Advocates for the Insurance Company?

2020-04-17T07:38:23-04:00 March 30th, 2020|

Engineers, Advocates for the Insurance Company?

Written by Tristan Miles, Premier Claims’ Public Adjuster

“We cannot be advocates for the homeowner.”
“Working for a Public Adjuster is a conflict of interest.”
“We are paid by insurance companies regardless of our opinions.”
“We cannot be an advocate for anyone…”

These phrases from an engineer surprised me, knowing the Engineer’s Creed in the National Society of Professional Engineers Code of Ethics an engineer should use their “knowledge and skill to the advancement and betterment of human welfare.”

            Engineer’s Creed:

          As a Professional Engineer, I dedicate my professional knowledge and skill to the advancement and betterment of human welfare.
          I pledge:

  •  To give the utmost of performance;
  • To participate in none but honest enterprise;
  • To live and work according to the laws of man and the highest standards of

    professional conduct;

  • To place service before profit, the honor and standing of the profession before personal

    advantage, and the public welfare above all other considerations.

In humility and with need for Divine Guidance, I make this pledge.

              – Adopted by National Society of Professional Engineers, June 1954

The Engineer’s Code of Ethics would make one believe that all engineers are unbiased and that they are truthful when assessing the damages to an insured’s property. All too often insureds are convinced that an engineer will change the course of their claim, unfortunately, insured’s find themselves in a worse position after an engineer inspection… If an adjuster suggests sending an “expert” whether it is to get a competitive contractor bid or to have an engineer investigate the claim, the chances of the claim being paid decrease exponentially. An “expert” hired by an insurance company are often not there to provide an unbiased opinion, but rather they are brought on to reinforce the carrier’s decision to continue to underpay or deny a claim.

“…a conflict of interest.” – Engineer

The engineer speaking to me continued on to tell me that he could not be an advocate for the homeowner and that they are paid, on the hour, by the insurance company, regardless of their opinion…

Engineers that continue the pattern of creating bias reports enable an insurance company to maintain plausible deniability. This is a strategy used by carriers, which allows an insurance company to further deny or delay a claim that is rightfully owed. By “sending out” an engineering company that they already know will reinforce their assessment of the claim, insurance companies can assert that they have thoroughly investigated a claim. When in actuality all they have done is hired someone that they already know will agree with everything they have said. Consider the following, “many insurance companies are using experts with only a slight degree of familiarity in the subject matter, and they are often engaging biased experts who are willing “sell” favorable opinions of fact to insurance companies” (Skipton pg. 65). Hiring an engineer allows your insurance company to hide behind a bias and often unlearned report without any negative repercussions.

What is more alarming, in 2017, 60 Minutes released an episode entitled “The Storm After The Storm”, detailing the carrier’s deceptive practices. Their investigation found that insurance companies had falsified reports by adding language in the report to benefit the insurance company at the insured’s expense. It is likely that it is because of this, are often instructed by carriers to not speak about their reports after they have been submitted to the adjuster assigned to the claim.

Fortunately, we have taken noticed this tactic as it has become common practice for all carriers Most of engineer reports are templates that are manipulated to benefit the carrier by including specific photos and phrases in the opening and ending statements. It is our obligation to bring these to light and ensure that in the end the insured is rightfully indemnified.

 

Sources:

Skipton, D. (2015). The Claims Game: The Tricks and Deceptive Tactics Insurance Companies Use to Underpay or Deny Your Claim. Lulu Publishing services. https://www.nspe.org/resources/ethics/code-ethics/engineers-creed https://mostynlaw.com/60minutes_sandy/