Christmas time is one time of year when I’m glad to be a claims person and not an underwriter. With so many insurance renewal dates at 12/31 or 1/1 on the calendar, the underwriters are at peak workload at this time of year, scrambling to address new and renewal business. Underwriters are besieged by the need for insurance quotes or brokers who want to cut deals. In fact, it is downright hard for underwriters to take much time off during the holiday season.
Not so for the claim folks. If anything, our volume drops this time of year. There are likely many reasons for this. One may relate to the fact that we only handle product liability claims. If we were dealing with personal lines losses – autos or homeowners for example – December might be a busier time. In the world our claims department occupies, though – commercial liability – the folks at insured companies who report claims are often out on vacation themselves. Attorneys who generate much of the paper and activity on litigated cases are in a wind-down mode. Judges do not seem too keen to schedule mediations or trials during the Christmas season, though I have been in a couple of nail-biters during yuletide, worried that the jury was going to turn into a gaggle of twelve Santa Clauses.
For some claim departments, the holiday season marks a ramp-down of the pace of business. Less incoming mail arrives. The phone is quieter. Fewer emails and faxes intrude. (Your mileage may vary, again either due to the types of insurance you write or if you work for a TPA that gets overflow assignments.)
This can be an excellent time for the claim staff to invest time in activities that will boost their productivity and get them off to a running start the next year. For example:
• Purging old materials (both hard copy and files on hard drives) that are no longer needed
• Organizing one’s desk, drawers and reference material
• Writing out professional goals for the next year and embedding ticklers or reminders on the calendar to revisit progress on these periodically through the year
• Networking with other professionals that you had a hard time finding time for earlier in the year
Use any “lull” presented at the end of year to catch your breath, gather yourself, get organized and get focused on what you want to accomplish as a claim professional in 2008!
The Claims Coach may slide down the chimney and appear again before the end of the year but, in any event, he wishes all a happy and fun holiday season!!