Crawford & Company employee Landy Bowndes recently celebrated his 35th anniversary with the company. We decided that if anyone had some great advice for claims adjusters, it would be Landy, so we picked his brain for tips and stories.
When Landy was getting his finance degree from Texas Tech University, he worked part-time at his father’s body shop. He says, “My duties were primarily estimating, handling the parts inventory, and payroll. Payroll was my favorite as it gave me “flexibility” with my earnings; of course my father was aware.”
Despite the flexible payment plan Landy had himself on, he wasn’t interested in staying at the body shop. “Back then, many of the adjusters wrote automobile appraisals and handled the adjustment. As a result, I would work with many of those adjusters, including those from Crawford. I ended up interviewing with Phil Goolsby, who was the manager of the Crawford office in Lubbock, TX. From there I went to the Crawford Casualty School.”
Landy began his Crawford career in 1977 as an outside adjuster. “In those days, after completing your six-week coursework in Crawford Casualty School, you received your assignment. I was sent to Grand Junction, Colorado.” From there, Landy moved to Glenwood Springs, CO, rising in the ranks to adjuster-in-charge. His next move was to Santa Fe, NM, then on to Baton Rouge, LA and Denver, CO as branch manager in those locales. By 2002, he made his way to New Orleans/Metairie, LA where he has remained.
“As an adjuster, my favorite part of the job was the outside activity and investigation. I liked meeting people from all walks of life and the variety of claims. My least favorite part was the inside time reporting and catching up on return calls,” he says.
Landy lists assisting employees in their roles, financial responsibilities, and outside marketing as his favorite parts of being a manager, and says, “My least favorite is a reduction in force, because this involves people who were doing their jobs. I feel responsible that I did not do enough to maintain revenue to keep their jobs.”
We asked Landy to tell us about some of the most interesting claims he has handled over his career, and he told us enough to fill a book!
“My experience as AIC in Glenwood Springs, Colorado exposed me to some of the most interesting claims. I handled a lot of property claims in the Aspen/Beaver Creek/Vail area. Needless to say many of the homes were quite large and very expensive. At that time it was not unusual to have three carriers on one risk, so you had to apportion the loss to those carriers. Some of the homeowner claims included owners such as: H Ross Perot, Hugh Hefner, John Denver, Fairchild family, and the Eagles’ home/studio),” he says.
Landy also described skiing to and from accident sites in Aspen and suiting up in radiation protective gear as Los Alamos National Labs. But one of the most impactful situations for him, both personally and professionally, was Hurricane Katrina.
“I had an apartment in Kenner near the office and a home in Baton Rouge, so I was extremely fortunate to have a place to go to. Just like others, I evacuated the New Orleans area, thinking in a few days I would return. Needless to say, it was actually weeks later.
“After the water receded, and with a special permit, the police let us return to our office in Kenner to retrieve some computer tapes for the home office. It was very strange. There were no people around, no cars moving, no traffic lights in operation, and a strange silence. What stuck in my mind was not seeing one bird in flight or perched anywhere.
In Baton Rouge, I also recall the constant noise of helicopters flying back and forth from Baton Rouge to New Orleans. It was a difficult time for many people. From a claims perspective it was a challenge, though many people stepped up to the plate to assist.
The lodging was a real problem. Crawford brought in some motor homes that some employees were able to use for a period of time, so at least they had somewhere to go. I was able to find a house to rent for some of the guys to stay that came in from the regional and home office. It was a full house, as I recall they were sleeping anywhere they could find. It was many days of long hours, but overall we did a great job of helping our customers,” Landy recalls.
Landy has a few tips for adjusters that are just starting out (and those who have been in the field for a while.
- Keep those statement guidelines handy. Even though you will take many statements over the years, it is still good to have those question guidelines in front of you, so that you don’t skip over important issues. There has never been a time that I didn’t think of a question I should have asked after leaving.
- Advancements in technology and tools to handle claims are great, but for a young person coming in our industry there is a challenge to develop new ways to be more efficient on a daily basis.
- In the past we typically did more cross training, and while it is still good to do that, I think it is good to find your niche – the area that best fits you and that you enjoy. I did automobile appraisals, casualty assignments, workers’ compensation and property, and I would say I enjoyed property the most.
Thanks and congratulations to Landy!
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