Adjuster X

Cop Psychology

By: | October 1, 2014

This column is based on the experiences of a group of long-time claims adjusters. The situations they describe are real, but the names and key details are kept confidential. Michelle Kerr is the editor of this column and can be reached at [email protected]

An adjuster colleague, Chris Pelotti, walked into the office with a bandage around his head.

Everyone was buzzing about it. I shook his hand and asked him what happened.

“I was investigating a case this morning and got smacked in the head. Jerk stole the company car. Wound up with a half-dozen stitches,” Chris said.

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The supervisor walked over and I heard Chris say, “I don’t need a job that gets me attacked. I quit. Get me a ride home. I’m outta here.”

I figured Chris’s reaction was normal under the circumstances and went back to work, but my supervisor called me in.

“That was terrible what happened to Chris this morning,” he said. “He should’ve been more careful in that neighborhood.”

The investigation consisted of finding a witness in a deplorable neighborhood so I could take a statement about an alleged accident.

I was taken aback. “Easier said than done,” I replied.

“I still need it done,” he said. “You’re street smart and have situational awareness. It’s your assignment.”

I stared back in disbelief. “Are you serious? Chris is no rookie, and he’s lucky he wasn’t hurt worse.”

My supervisor looked at me and said, “Just be careful. Don’t place yourself in any obvious danger. If you feel you can’t complete it, fine. But I need you to try.”

“Tomorrow, then,” I said. “But I’m not pressing my luck. It’s too dangerous even during the day.”

The investigation consisted of finding a witness in a deplorable neighborhood so I could take a statement about an alleged accident.

The next morning, I wore a dark suit and tie with a white shirt and a trench coat, and drove a borrowed car that looked like an unmarked police car.

I had called the police and asked if a marked car could swing by when I would be there.

They said they’d do their best, but warned me to be careful.

When I pulled up in front of the multi-apartment residence, there were numerous suspicious looking characters nearby. I took a breath, got out of the vehicle and headed for the building.

I spied a police car slowly cruising the block, waved them over to the curb and thanked them.

“You have to be nuts after your co-worker was mugged here yesterday,” he replied.

“And I have to get going. So be very careful.”

I walked back toward the apartment steps. No one so much as looked at me.

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I rang the doorbell of the apartment where the witness was listed, and she buzzed me in.
The somewhat elderly woman said, “You sure are brave to come to see me here.”

I got her statement and headed straight back for the car (which, thankfully, was where I left it.)

Back at the office, I strode straight in to see my supervisor.

“Here’s your witness statement. She saw everything. It’s a legitimate claim.”

“I honestly thought you were going to come back and say it was too dangerous,” he said.

“It was,” I said. “I’ll never do that again, but I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it and not get injured or worse.”

“How did you do it?” my supervisor asked.

“Very carefully,” I replied.

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The R&I Editorial Team can be reached at [email protected]