By Martin Beardeaux, CPCU, AIDA, ARM-E, AINS
It’s not rocket science. We all grew up with the Golden Rule – treating others as one wants to be treated. This commonsense approach to treating others with respect and dignity has deep historical roots, in both religious and secular contexts. We’d like to think that we treat everyone this way; that our instinct is to present the best example of our personal and professional core values when interacting with others.
But what happens when we are confronted with the attitude of a disgruntled co-worker or customer; or we are busy with deadline; or we are having a difficult day; or we get an urgent request at 5pm on a Friday afternoon? These are all situations which challenge us to step up, but sometimes fall short, despite our best intentions.
In my 25 years managing workers’ compensation claims, where things often become adversarial, I can attest how difficult it can be to adhere to the principles of the Golden Rule. We can easily be pulled into the fray; forgetting that the injured person on the phone is likely in pain, overwhelmed by an unfriendly / complex system, and struggling to pay their bills on just a portion of their usual income.
Forget about the small percentage of individuals who might be gaming the system… those should not impact how we approach everyone else. I learned early on to take a step back and recognize that most claimants have had their lives turned upside down. This outlook kept me from becoming too jaded or burned out. However, as a defense mechanism, pulling back emotionally and distancing oneself from the “drama” can take a toll on our other relationships, whether at work or at home.
Fast forward to 2019… I was fortunate to spearhead the claims team for a brand-new Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI) carrier. This included development of our Best Practices and Policies & Procedures. With no legacy claims holding us back, we took a fresh look at what the claims process should look like – what experience would we want if it were our TDI claim? How can we improve a process that has remained essentially unchanged in Hawai’i for the last 50 years?
- Quick and easy claim filing
- Professional and responsive communication
- Prompt payment of benefits
The responses we have received from both claimants and our clients has been gratifying, and we realized that our approach meshed seamlessly with the values we aspire to.
Of course, treating everyone we encounter with patience, kindness and empathy has ramifications far beyond our role in the insurance industry. That irritating neighbor? The indifferent cashier? The slow driver ahead of us or the impatient driver behind us? Each person we encounter on a daily basis presents an opportunity to make someone’s day just a bit brighter. Each one of them is on their own journey, and as we take a step back, do we really know what burdens or challenges they might be dealing with? We don’t, but we might just be a small part of the solution.
With nearly 30 years managing and consulting on WC and TDI claims in the Hawaii, Martin has represented carriers, agencies, TPAs, as well as self-insured organizations as an independent WC claims adjuster. He takes great pride in providing superior customer service to all stakeholders.