Building a better industry for the consumer: Creating win-win scenarios using case studies

Marty Fisher (Martha Fisher & Associates) explains how case studies will assist each of us in our careers.
Marty Fisher (Martha Fisher & Associates) explains how case studies will assist each of us in our careers.
Exchange participants super-charged the voyage with their participation in the case studies sessions as they articulated concerns (regulator, consumer and insurer), presented recommendations (dramatizations included) and voted for best-of-show resolutions. Captured here are selected highlights of the case study sessions…but reader, beware, you really had to be there.

What we did
ICAE board of trustees was so enthused about using case studies as interactive workshops for the 2013 Exchange that each agreed to submit actual case studies to be used. In all, six property and casualty (P & C) case studies and seven life/health studies were generated. All insurer and claimant information was redacted in the case studies—this was fortunate because more than one group found behaviors so alarming the question was posed: Are these for real? And the answer was: Truth is stranger than fiction.

How we did it
The first step was to build on communication presentations from ICAE’s past Exchanges from writing drills (2011 Exchange) to active listening skills (2012 Exchange), the group was given a go-rodeo of communications reminders, ending in five key take-aways for consumer affairs professionals and regulators:

Good communication matters—do not abdicate the responsibility or the opportunity:

  • What you convey and how you convey a message are equally important.
  • Words can harm—more than sticks and stones.
  • Consumer affairs professionals must control what can be controlled: Tone, timing and organization of the message can all be controlled.

• Know your audience and determine the best way to communicate.
• Check the ego—the purpose of business communication is to share knowledge and come to positive outcomes, not show knowledge and dictate an outcome.
• Make communication interactive—listen to all stakeholders, anticipate questions and reactions, and answer all proactively.
• Being right doesn’t always mean you will prevail—make sure all the facts are available before beginning the communications voyage with any audience.

With reminders and cautionary tales echoing, the group was split into six working groups—each with a mix of regulators and consumer affairs professionals (when reviewing life and health case studies, the P & C consumer affairs specialists played the role of consumer and visa-versa). Each group was assigned two case studies; each group was given the same marching orders:

• Discuss the case studies and be prepared to present to the entire group:

  • Case facts
  • Point-of-view concerns: Regulators, consumer, company
  • Recommendations for how to handle, including communication, and
  • Outcomes anticipated from recommendations.

• Group presentation could be in any format—skit, song, poem, whatever…
• Then, together with the entire group, actual outcomes for each case were revealed.

Why we did it
The goal of the case study sessions was clear:  Learn from the mistakes of others—and, yes, we all make mistakes.  From the test case study, designed to guide participants through the work sheet template, to the final case study, participants were vocal, involved, engaged and resolved to work through the issues of each case.

Presentations ranged from skits to role playing to straight reporting—some groups raised hail (literally), one group met in the evening to create a PowerPoint, and others (no names, please) attempted to sway the final vote with bribes (come to the 2014 Exchange for an in-depth session on ethics).  Regardless of method of presentation, all groups delivered professional statements creating win-win-win scenarios through working by working through the issues, listening to concerns of all stakeholders and suggesting innovative solutions—framed with positive communication appropriate to the audience.

The Attitude Adjustment case study group strikes a pose, after providing candy bar ‘hail’ to attendees.
The Attitude Adjustment case study group strikes a pose, after providing candy bar ‘hail’ to attendees.

And the winner is…
The winning team worked on a P & C case study entitled Attitude Adjustment, presented here:

Case facts: In July 2012, Mr. Landlord submitted a complaint to his insurer following a denied claim in June 2011 for roof damage to four of several rental properties he owns. Mr. Landlord also complained that the adjuster was rude and seemed to indicate that that Mr. Landlord was somehow responsible for the damage. Mr. Landlord insures eight homes and has his automobile coverage with the insurer. He would like the damages to the homes repaired and a discount on his premiums.

Points for Consideration:

• In June 2011, the insurer received a claim for one property. It could not find evidence of hail or wind damage on the property in question and communicated to Mr. Landlord that it would not be paying the claim
• In July 2012, Mr. Landlord requested the claim be reopened and that another claims adjuster be assigned

For the presentation, the winning group presented a skit, complete with a mean (ha!) adjuster, a pushy insured, an uninterested insurance office, and a regulator seeking to bring all parties to a win-win-win situation. In fact, the regulator role anticipated questions and actions and cautioned the insured that specific actions would actually not be advantageous—for anyone. Because of the proactive stance in helping the insured understand how insurance works, this group was voted the winner.

The rest of the story…on Attitude Adjustment
Most participants wanted to know how the case was resolved in reality. To that end, here’s the rest of this story:
Mr. Landlord insures eight homes and has his automobile coverage with the insurer. He requested:

  • Damages to the homes repaired,
  • Discount on his premiums,
  • The claim be reopened, and
  • A new claims adjuster be assigned.

Ultimately, the insurer agreed and the second adjuster found evidence of hail damage. A claim payment for $6,952 has been issue.

Not at the Exchange?  Here’s the win-win-win
It was remarkable what could be accomplished when all groups are working together and committed to open, interactive communication.  Due to time constraints, not all case studies were completely reviewed—although each group was able to present one case.

Participants were eager to discover the rest of the story for all case studies.  Therefore, the Exchange planning committee requested the case studies and actual outcomes be posted as part of the online Catalyst.  We are providing the complete case studies for curious Exchange participants, and all ICAE members to view and navigate the studies beyond the land of lessons learned and into the realm of success.

Click here to view the other cases and the actual outcomes.

Marty Fisher
Martha Fisher & Associates
4781 Coach Rd.
Columbus, OH 43220

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