July 2017

In This Issue

2017 Board Members
Robbie Maples - President
Cunningham Lindsey

Marilyn Roberts - Vice President

Bill Cartwright - Treasurer
Eagle Adjustment Services

Bob Murner - Secretary

Brian Richey - Asst. Secretary/Treasury
Executive Board
Lawson Thompson - Past President
Rick Brown - York

Robbie Arnold - McLarens

Griffin Rogers - Crawford & Company
Gwendy Schulte - OneBeacon Insurance

John Southall - Historian
FM Global - retired
Joseph Hunnius- 
Financial Advisor
Matson Driscoll & Damico
President's Message
"There's no harm in hoping for the best as long as you're prepared for the worst" - Stephen King
The 2017 Hurricane Season began on June 1 and all the experts promise a very active season. Depending on your vantage point, this may mean something different. However, all vantage points have one common theme - Plan ahead!
If you live in a coastal region, Hurricane Season is likely nothing new. It is time for the plywood to be pulled out of storage or replacement sheets can be purchased and sized for each window needing protection. Evacuation routes should be reviewed and updates noted. Provisions should be inventoried in the event of power failure; including water, non-perishable foods, flashlights and batteries.
For those of us in the Insurance I ndustry; specifically adjusters, engineers, consultants, and contractors this means something else. We need to be diligent with our time now so that we are able to assist in full capacity during a catastrophe. We also must plan ahead so that we are ready to deploy at a moment's notice. Personal Protective Equipment such as hard hats, steel toe boots, safety vests and even respirators need to be packed and ready to go. Extra batteries, flashlights, and contingency plans for working without power and internet need to be considered for those included as first responders.
For more Hurricane Preparedness tips and other way to help you and your community to prepare, check out www.ready.gov .
During our last SLA meeting we all witnessed the theatrical performance of "Fred Ferrand and Associates" aka Swift Currie Attorneys Fred and Kori, and special guest star, Dayne Grey of MDD Forensic Accountants as they presented "Handling The Large Commercial Fraud Case, Including Vendor Fraud." The theme of the message was to line up your experts early and often - especially if the claim is complicated or suspicious from the outset.
We look forward to seeing you next week at our regularly scheduled luncheon on Thursday, July 13, 2017 at the Northpoint Diner located in Alpharetta. Bart Barrett, P.E., of Nelson Forensics will be presenting "Forensics Investigation of Building Veneer Failures." This course is approved for One Hour of Georgia CE credit.  
Kind Regards,
Robbie Maples

Quick Links

 Schedule of Events


07/13/17 - July Luncheon


08/10/17 - 25th Annual SLA CE Seminar


09/14/17 - September Luncheon


10/11/17 - Member only reception with CPCU

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          Welcome to New Members


We'd like to congratulate all of the new members to our organization:


Full Membership: 

Patrick Newton - Crawford & Company


Associate Membership:

Jeff Eidson -  Young & Associates 

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        Join us for the August Luncheon
          Thursday, July 13, 2017
           The Diner at North Point
Our speaker this month will be Bart Barrett, P.E., of Nelson Forensics. The topic of his presentation is "Forensics Investigation of Building Veneer Failures."   


Register Now

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Southern Loss Association Inc.
25th Annual Property Seminar

This event is intended for the education of ADJUSTERS, CLAIMS MANAGERS, RISK MANAGERS & SLA MEMBERS ONLY, PLEASE!!!
We are pleased to offer 8 hours of Georgia Continuing Education Credit; including 3 hours of Ethics.

Registration is FREE for FULL MEMBERS! Your membership status will be verified upon registration--if you still need to pay your 2016 dues please visit www.southernloss.com to pay online. Contact us with any questions.


After our Education Seminar concludes we will have a TopGolf and Happy Hour event open for all attendees! If you've never been to TopGolf before you're in for a treat--and you don't need to be a golfer to have a great time! There is no additional registration fee to join us for some golf, fun, and a cocktail but please be sure to register as we will need a headcount for the facility. 
    Registration & Breakfast will begin at 7:30 AM
Program Begins promptly at 8:00 AM
We have a great line up of speakers to keep your attention all day.

Nick Goanos and Zack Jett - Butler Pappas - 1 hour
"Top 10 Issues in Coverage & Subrogation

Jim Beck - Georgia Underwriter's Association - 3 hours 
"Ethics Insights - Navigating the Minefield"
Doug DePhillips - JS Held - 1 hour
"Choosing the right estimating program"
Scott Dowsett - Anomali - 1 hour
"Cyber Security and the Dark Web"
Robbie Maples & Jeffrey Cornell - Cunningham Lindsey & Forensic Advisory Services - 1 hour
 "Business Interruption Tools for the Adjuster"
Dr. Dan - Young & Associates - 1 hour
"Auditing moisture mapping and equipment needs on water losses"

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Who's Working Your File?
Richard A. Rice, PE
Mutual Engineering, Inc. - MEI
You, an adjuster or attorney, have a claim or case come across your desk that has an engineering component to be investigated. You contact an engineering firm and request an onsite inspection and, in some instances, an engineering report. The engineering report you receive is signed by a licensed professional engineer (PE). However, you discover that the person who performed the onsite inspection was not a PE. Do you accept the report given that a PE did not perform the onsite inspection?
Back in the April 2017 edition of Omnia Forensis Ingenariae (OFI), I expressed concerns regarding the practice of using non-PE's to investigate insurance and legal matters. Since then, I have had many discussions with people on this subject. In addition, I sent a survey to all the adjusters and attorneys who are members of the Southern Loss Association (SLA) (www.southernloss.com). These discussions, and the results of the SLA survey, are offered in this article.
What is a non-PE?
My experience reveals three types of non-PE's are sent to perform onsite inspections. There is the non-technical person who is recruited from non-technical jobs where basic engineering or trade/vocational knowledge is not required. (Unfortunately, they continue to be recruited.) There is the degreed engineer who is acting as an Intern under the direction of a licensed PE. And, finally, there is the Technician who has achieved knowledge and experience in a trade/vocation over many decades. For this article, only the Intern and Technician will be discussed.
Use of Engineering Interns
An engineering Intern is someone who has received an engineering degree and is working under a licensed PE in order to be able to take the PE exam someday. As I have stated in the past, the use of recently graduated engineering Interns is extremely vital in the less contentious and less adversarial "design world."  It is in the "design world" where engineering Interns learn the skills, and gain the knowledge to be licensed PE's.  However, in the "legal world" where things are very adversarial, one must ask: Is it wise to send an Intern to perform forensic engineering inspections? Should the case go to trial or arbitration, whose testimony will have more weight: the engineering Intern, or the licensed PE who is bound by ethics, laws and cannons? What does the market think?
What About the Use of Technicians?
A good friend and colleague is a mechanical engineer PE in the northeastern US. His forensic engineering practice involves heating, venting, air conditioning (HVAC) issues. My mechanical PE friend routinely sends Technicians who have certifications and decades of real-world HVAC installation and problem-solving experience to the onsite inspections. Their role is to gather data and evidence onsite. Of all the arguments I have heard, the use of Technicians, in this instance, is the most reasonable. However, what if another firm sends a PE to gather the data and evidence. Again, what does the market think?
Survey of SLA Adjusters and Attorneys
On June 12, 2017, a survey question was sent to all the adjusters and attorneys who were members of the SLA. The question was:
Should non-PE's investigate forensic engineering matters for PE's to sign off on later?
The majority of responses were "NO" at over a 4 to 1 ratio. Representative comments from the "NO" respondents are as follows:
"Should the PE be required to testify at trial, I want them to be able to give first-hand accounts of what they found and not open the to door to a plaintiff arguing that the expert be disqualified because his opinion is based on evidence he received second hand."
"The purpose of hiring an engineer is to lend credibility to cause and origin determinations and prepare for possible litigation. I would not feel comfortable putting a non-PE on the stand under examination."
"In most cases where I deem an expert in an engineering matter is required, I expect them to be a licensed PE as that is the expertise I'm looking for. While a non-PE may be talented, the credentials of the PE is important in convincing other parties as to the accuracy of their findings."
It is my opinion, with only a few exceptions, that when a forensic engineering investigation is requested, a licensed PE should participate at all stages. Otherwise, the findings in the engineering report will be challenged and possibly discarded by a judge.
Many of my colleagues/competitors will contend that my belief in the use of PE's at all stages is not based on market demands. They would be mistaken. Those providing forensic engineering services should take note that an insurance company recently rejected 20+ engineering reports from one forensic engineering firm because Interns performed the onsite inspections.  The reports were signed off by the manager with a PE license who was not involved with the onsite inspections.  The insurance company upper management were afraid that a judge would find the insurance company guilty of fraud by accepting those reports. Can you hear the market, now?
As I stated in other publications, given the court decisions regarding fraudulent forensic engineering reports involving the Northridge Earthquake in California, Super Storm Sandy, and Hurricane Katrina, it is not surprising that attorneys, insurance companies and insurance policy holders are holding forensic engineering investigations and reports to a higher standard.
If you would like more information on this subject, please contact Mr. Rice at 404.395.7441, visit his website at www.mutualengineering.com or contact by e-mail at mutual@bellsouth.net.

This newsletter is a publication of Southern Loss Association, Inc., P.O. Box 421564, Atlanta, GA 30342. The articles written in the newsletter are in a general format and are not intended to be legal advice applicable to any specific circumstances. Legal opinions may vary when based on subtle factual differences. All rights reserved.
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