A Great Negotiator Is Someone Who …

A Great Place to Startnegotiator

We begin learning the negotiation process by identifying what makes a great negotiator truly great. Consider this: A great negotiator is someone who…..what?

In many of our classes, people say, “A great negotiator is someone who listens.” “A great negotiator is someone who’s flexible.” “A great negotiator is someone who plans things out.” These are all good answers. We agree these are skills and behaviors every good negotiator should possess. So, what makes a great negotiator? What is it that makes them different from everybody else? Take a guess for yourself. A great negotiator is someone who….

What did you come up with? You might have guessed a great negotiator provides empathy; a great negotiator looks at things from the other person’s point of view; maybe you thought a great negotiator provides a win/win solution for their customers. These are all good answers. In this book, we will share with you what makes great negotiators different from everybody else.

If you are a claims professional, you are probably doing a very good job of negotiating with your customers already. You don’t need to be fixed and this book is not designed to fix you. Later, you will find the answer to the question, “What makes a great negotiator?” Using the answer, you will be able to improve yourself, develop your skills, better serve your customer and make your job easier.

A Great Negotiator is Someone Who…..

Here is the answer: A great negotiator is someone who has a process. We know this seems simple. Simple as it is, it’s true.

A great negotiator is someone who has a process.   You see, there are five steps to the claims negotiation process and the great negotiator uses them. They don’t move onto step number two until they finish with step number one. A great negotiator doesn’t get caught thinking, “Oh, uh, gee, now what do I say?”   A great negotiator knows exactly what step they are in during their customer interaction. You will learn the five steps to utilize in your claim handling to improve yourself. Even if you’re a good negotiator, or even if you’re excellent, you can always get better.


When does the negotiation process really begin

In working with claims professionals all over the world, we like to ask this question, “When does the negotiation process really begin?” Responses we hear are, “The negotiation process begins when you get the medical documentation,” or “it begins when you get the reports,” or “when you get the estimate from the body shop,” or “when an offer is made to settle the claim.” These are all good answers but we all know better, don’t we?


We know the negotiation process really begins with that first conversation, that very first phone call. We know that first conversation is when we start to establish the rapport. We know that very first phone call is the foundation of the relationship that helps us towards resolution that much sooner.

The NEW Claims Education Magazine – Summer 2015 Has Arrived!


Download the full issue PDF »

Articles in this issue:

Training Talk

Feature Story
Leadership Concepts for Leaders

New Course
Professionalism in Claims

News Brief

Claims Education Magazine® is wholly owned and published by International Insurance Institute, Inc.
Since our first publication of Claims Education Magazine® in 2005, we have grown to over 37,000 recipients.
For all 37,000 subscribers, an e-mail announcement is sent directly to them, letting them know the current and prior editions can be viewed online at this website (www.ClaimsEducationMagazine.com).
Downloading any full issue or any part of Claims Education Magazine is free at all times.
There is also a link on this web site where anyone who requests it can receive the printed version of the Claims Education Magazine.
For editorial questions or contributions, contact Karla Alcerro at Karla@InsuranceInstitute.com. For advertising, contact Carl Van at carlvan@insuranceinstitute.com.
A special thanks to all of our customers who helped to make Claims Education Magazine so successful.

Take A Bite Out Of Lawsuits With So Sue Me Sushi!

SoSueMeOkay, you’ve just about had it. One more person threatening to sue and you’ll explode.  Have you ever had one of those days when, after being threatened over and over again with being sued, you just wanted to shout, “So Sue Me!”?

Well, then this is a meal you will love. With every bite of our So Sue Me Sushi, you will forget all about those threats and reach a level of culinary nirvana that not even Buddha himself could have imagined.


1 cup sushi riceSo_Sue_Me_Sushi_nori_sheets

8 nori seaweed sheets

2 tablespoons sesame seeds

1/2 cup imitation crabmeat, finely chopped

3 tablespoons mayonnaiseSo_Sue_Me_Sushi_avacado

1/2 cucumber, peeled and cut long and thin (like toothpicks)

1 avocado, peeled, thinly sliced lengthwise


Lay the nori sheets out on a flat rolling surface. Spread the sushi rice evenly over the sheets and sprinkle the sesame seeds over the surface. Place the crabmeat and mayonnaise in a small bowl and mix until it is well combined. Spread the mixture evenly down the center of each nori roll, and top with avocado and cucumber slices. Roll the sushi into a log. Slice the log into 3/4 inch pieces and serve the meal as soon as possible.

From the Claims Cookbook by Carl Van and Laura Wimsatt

Need A Trustworthy Witness? Try Witness Jambalaya!

Witness 1One thing we know about witnesses, is that they can never keep their story straight. Their story gets more jumbled as time goes on. So, what better way to honor the mixed up, back and forth, upside down, jumbled version of the witness than with your very own bowl of delicious Witness Jambalaya?

Unlike the witness’s stories, this recipe is dependable, reliable, and has stayed consistent for years. And, we don’t need to make things up just to spice it up! After enjoying this incredible New Orleans favorite, you’ll give witness yourself to how good and easy a meal can be.


2 teaspoons olive oil

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into bite-size pieces

3 cups hot smoked sausage, slicedWitness 2

1 green bell pepper, diced

1 onion, diced

1/3 cup diced celery

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

2 and 1/2 tablespoons chopped garlic

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Salt and ground black pepper to taste

2 cups uncooked white rice

4 cups chicken stock

3 bay leaves

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce


Heat the oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Sauté the chicken and sausage until it is lightly browned, which takes about 5 minutes. Stir in the onion, bell pepper, celery and garlic. Season these with cayenne, onion powder, salt and pepper. Cook these ingredients for 5 minutes, or until the onion is tender and translucent. Add the rice, and then stir in the chicken stock and bay leaves.  Bring the mixture to a boil, and then reduce the heat. Cover and simmer this for 20 minutes or until the rice is tender. Lastly, stir in the Worcestershire sauce.

From the Claims Cookbook by Carl Van and Laura Wimsatt

Celebrate AT HOME with the DUI Daiquiri

In New Orleans, the city where the cocktail was invented, and where “go cups” are freely used in bars so that you can walk around the streets without having to waste a precious drop, the Daiquiri is king. DUI_daquiri

How many places do you know that have Drive-Thru Daiquiri stores?  Well, we have them here in New Orleans, and here is your chance to make our favorite one.

WARNING:  This drink should come with its own bail bond 800 number.  It is said that after a nice tall one of these, you should give your car keys to someone else.  We disagree.  You’d better give them to someone else BEFORE you have one of these, because after the first one, more are on their way, and then you’ll be in no condition to think about giving your keys away.  Actually, you’ll be more likely to start giving away your hotel room keys.  So be careful.


12 ounces frozen limeade concentrate
1 cup strawberries
16 fl. oz. rum


Blend the limeade, strawberries, rum, and ice together until the mixture is smooth.  Then serve in fancy glasses and garnish with strawberries.  Perfect for a nice summer day out by the pool.

From the Claims Cookbook by Carl Van and Laura Wimsatt

Do You Know What Customer Service Is?

Carl Van of International Insurance Institute gives some quick advice on what makes a great customer service company great.  In #5 and the most important of the five standards that make a great customer service company great, Carl discusses how important it is to  Know what Customer Service Is.

America’s Claims Event 2014 Interview with Carl Van!


Interview: Carl Van, ITP, President & CEO, International Insurance Institute, Inc.

Carl Van will present “Critical Thinking – Strategic Planning.” on June 25, 2014. Carl was interviewed by the folks at America’s Claims Event. You can also view the interview on the ACE site too!  Click here to view.

ACE: Can you explain the connection between critical thinking and being a successful claims leader?

CV: The point we are going to make is that the best decision makers, whether they are claims adjusters analyzing coverage, damages and liability on a claim, or claims leaders making business decisions for their organization, are the ones who think things through. That is what it is all about. It is not about always being right, it is about considering the relevant information, avoiding the non-critical thinking pitfalls, and making the best decision possible.

ACE: Please describe a Critical Thinking approach for strategic planning within a claims operation.

CV: There are too many possible steps to list here, so I’ll just stick to the main ones.

The first and most important step is to define what you are trying to accomplish. Are you trying to introduce a new procedure, improve an existing procedure, or fix a problem?

Another important step is to list out your assumptions. What are you taking for granted that you know (or just accepting) to be true? Are you assuming that the new form you started using is causing turn around time delays? Are you assuming that by increasing adjuster authority will result in a reduction in inventory? Whatever assumptions you are starting with, list them out.

Right after that is to test those assumptions! In most cases, when big mistakes are made, it is not an error in the thought process that causes the problem. It is usually some assumption that was made (and never tested) that turned out to be false and every decision made based on that assumption would lead you astray.

Another step involves gathering the data you need to make the decision, as well as ideas to consider, using a wide net.

The goal is to make the best decision possible with the information you have, using the critical thinking process, avoiding the 10 critical thinking pitfalls.

A good strategic plan should have these characteristics:

 Steady: Strategies need to be altered as the business changes and knowledge grows; however, they cannot be overly reactive or “knee jerk.” Steady, well thought out changes are best.

 Achievable: Effective strategies draw on the particular strengths and skills of an organization. People who like change are just as important as people who don’t like change; you need them both! Strategies should include considerations of how they will be implemented. They need to include things people will actually do.

 Tangible: If your strategies are not in concert with your goals, then either your goals are unrealistic and/or unimportant, or your strategies are ineffective. You have to have something to show for your efforts.

 Understandable: Strategies that work in the claims environment are easily articulated so that they can inspire the people who will be asked to carry them out.

Evolving: Claims organizations that think strategically have alternatives and learn to consider a wide range of choices. They also build upon successes and relate those successes throughout the organization.

 True-Life: The best strategies are based on and supported by real data. File reviews, phone call monitoring, settlement times, objective system generated data, etc. Effective strategies tell believable stories.

 Focused: As a claims organization, are you saying one thing yet doing another? Are you encouraging risk, yet penalizing for making mistakes? Are you touting customer service, yet providing no training and evaluating only on claims specifics? Are you encouraging innovation, yet dictating every detail in every process? Are you asking people to be agents of change, yet overwhelming them with process?

Negotiated: Successful strategies have buy-in from all levels. The best way to do that is by getting many points of view, from both people who like change and people who don’t like change, and sharing the thinking behind the strategy as it evolves. Stop dictating.

 Determined: No organization can do everything or be all things to all people. Strategy means making choices about what you will and will not do. Your strategy should make it clear how claims activities will be prioritized, and how it will use its resources. Deciding you need training does not mean you have to develop it and deliver it all by yourself. Are you a training organization or a claims organization? Get help when needed, but do what you do best.

ACE: Please put these ideas of critical thinking and strategic planning in the context of a real life case study.

CV: We will be working on one in the presentation. We will be dealing with a claims organization that needs to improve the responses toward customer service complaints. We will take a look at the issue, decide on what we want to accomplish, list our assumptions, test those assumptions, generate ideas for improvement and discuss how to put them into place.

ACE: What is the central message that you hope to convey at the America’s Claims Event?

CV: That taking the time to think things through (8 “t” words in a row!) is worth the effort. Making good decisions takes a little discipline, a little knowledge, a little patience, a little training…and a sometimes a little luck.


Critical Thinking – Strategic Planning

Conference Registration

Discount Registration Link

About America’s Claims Event The 18th Annual America’s Claims Event is the ONLY industry event where senior managers, practitioners & experts involved with claims operations can get the insight they need to implement effective and tactical strategies for their claims handling process. More than 400 professionals and decision‐makers from mid‐size to large Fortune 500 companies attend the event to engage in idea exchanging and peer‐to‐peer learning. Attendees gain deep insight from the experts and obtain unparalleled access to proven solutions to confront their operational challenges.

Have You Ever Wondered What Makes a Great Customer Service Company Great?

Carl Van of International Insurance Institute gives a snippet of advice on what makes a great customer service company great.  In part two of #4 of the five standards that make a great customer service company great we find that great company employees can Accurately Describe Their Job.  Here Carl uses The Airline Pilot Example to get his point across!

Tired of Turkey? Try Liti–gator Stew!

Have you ever dealt with an Litigator_Stew_Laura_and_Alligator_Swampattorney who chomped down on as issue and just wouldn’t let go?  Or perhaps you had an attorney that would lie in wait for you to make a mistake on a claim only to snap his big choppers at you?  Once they have you in their jaws, you’re never getting free.

Well, get some revenge with our amazing Liti-gator Stew.  This truly southern dish will have you getting the better of that lawsuit filer in no time.

Start with a nice piece of gator, toss in a few potatoes, blend in a few mediation mushrooms, and you are on your way.  Of course the best part is letting that Liti-gator stew all day long.  “Stew…stew….stew in your own juices you over priced swamp crawler!  How do YOU like it?”

Oh, sorry, back to the dish.  Anyway, Liti-gator stew reminds us that no matter how hard the exterior, you can always find something tender on the inside with the right amount of heat and time.


  • 4 cups “liti-gator” meat, cut into bite size pieces
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup green onions, chopped
  • 1 large bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons parsley
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 pinch of cayenne
  • 1 10 ounce can Rotel®  tomatoes
  • Salt and Pepper to taste


In a pot, combine the oil and “liti-gator” meat.  Cook the meat until it is lightly browned.   Next, add the chopped vegetables, Rotel®  tomatoes, cayenne, salt, and pepper and cook the ingredients until the vegetables are soft.  Then add the water, and cover the pot.  Cook over medium heat until the meat is tender and serve over cooked rice.Liti-gator_Stew

From the Claims Cookbook by Carl Van and Laura Wimsatt




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