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Author Topic: Why an Insurance Adjuster Needs to Hire an Industrial Hygienist on Claims  (Read 199 times)

JasonYost

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      Jason, I've been an Indiana . . . [insurance] adjuster for twenty-five years.  Why should I, or should I, want to hire an industrial hygienist to inspect our claims?

      Great question.  But before we get into the answer let's help readers understand what this insurance adjuster is asking about: an industrial hygienist.  Most people have never heard of an industrial hygienist, so I would highly recommend everyone read my article defining them and the science of industrial hygiene, here: http://restorationboard.com/indoor-air-quality-occupant-safety-27/what-is-industrial-hygiene-who-is-an-industrial-hygienist/.  This will help you be on the same page as this adjuster, and understand my answer better. . . .


      There are a number of reasons an insurance adjuster will want/need to hire an industrial hygienist on his or her claims.  Here are just a few:

      1.)  Compliance.  Let's start with the dirty word, first.  No one likes to hear: "You have to . . ." anything!  And, yet, the reality of our lives is this:  There are governmental agencies that establish protocols for workplace safety and health, industry ethics policies, environmental policies, and other standards of care.  And, if we don't comply with those laws, we are willfully choosing the liabilities that come with non-compliance, such as but not limited to: fines, loss of quality human resources, loss of competitive advantages, increased cost of operating business, injuries, illnesses, or worse.  One of these agencies, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), requires that workplace hazards are defined prior to the worker's involvement on the work-site, and further requires a "competent person", called an "industrial hygienist", to define those hazards, working with your team, in order to provide for the safety and health of workers.  Industry-based standards take these laws and state that they are to be applied to everyone - not just workers - in order to assure everyone's safety and health (e.g., IICRC S500 & S520).

      2.)  The Adjuster's Safety & Health.  Research has shown that those who are regularly exposed to contaminated environments (and they don't have to all be the same type of contamination) are at a higher risk of developing illness or worse as a result of their prolonged or repeated exposures.  Insurance adjusters are such people.  These professionals go in and out of contaminated environments regularly.  Not only is it a violation of the above mentioned regulations to not involve an industrial hygienist, these professionals (over the course of their career) will be increasing their risk of developmental illness (or other biological condition) by occupying buildings with an unknown list of environmental stressors - in most cases ill-equipped to protect themselves from the actual stressors on-site.

      3.)  The Insurer's & Insured's Protection from Unwanted Legal Stressors.  Besides the governmental agencies coming down on you, there are unwanted legal liabilities that come from conflicts on insurance claims.  These liabilities impact everyone, such as but not limited to: the insurers, insureds, contractors and other materially interested parties.  Examples of these liabilities include: expensive legal fees, long court battles, expensive medical fees, public humiliation, decreasing quality of life, increased costs associated with the claim, and more.  One of the best ways to prevent these liabilities is to work as a team member with qualified persons who can (1) comply with the laws, (2) assure proper assessment of the structure, (3) generate a quality protocol for remediation or restoration, (4) assure quality post-remediation verification inspection, (5) provide quality workmanship in relation to the necessities of the claim, (6) adjust with a clear understanding of those necessities and the policy (i.e., contract) with the insured, etc.  Obviously, the industrial hygienist plays an important role on this team, providing the necessary quality inspections and assessments prior to and following remediation and restoration, among other things.

      In Conclusion:

      The costs of ignoring the need for an industrial hygienist on claims far exceeds the cost of involving them in nearly 90% of claims filed.  So, a better question, and one I'll pose to you now, is why wouldn't you involve an industrial hygienist on your claims?  Even if the policy excludes certain types of indoor air quality inspections, the insurance adjuster's employer has a legal responsibility to provide for the adjuster's safety and health that supersedes the policy's limitations to the insured.

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