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Convention Session Summaries

CPPC 2015 Convention Session Summations

 In hopes of giving those that could not attend this year’s event, a glimpse of what they missed; the CPPC Board members will share their summary’s of the various sessions.  Those presenters that had Power Point Presentations, that can be shared, are available on the CPPC web site for your viewing option under the appropriate tab.  

Historic Restoration by Brenda Murray:  Suzanne Smeaton has been a framer of fine art for over 37 years. Suzanne was a pioneer of period frame study and scholarship during her more than 27-year tenure at the world-renowned frame gallery of Eli Wilner & Company in New York City.  She has worked extensively in the field of American period frames: written articles for publications such as The Bulletin of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Magazine Antiques, Picture Framing Magazine and American Art the journal of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, lectured to museum groups across the country, researched and written videos, presented at numerous symposiums, has curated many museum frame exhibitions both individually and working with curators at many museums including The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Suzanne has lectured for numerous museums and art appreciation groups across the country as well as Christie’s, Sotheby’s American Arts Course, the Appraiser’s Association of America, and the International Society of Appraisers and continues to lecture frequently on the subject of American picture frames; she was an adjunct professor for the NYU Appraisal Studies Program for 10 years and has been a member of Art Table since 2000. Suzanne is a certified member of the Appraiser’s Association of America.

Everyone was enamored with Ms. Smeaton’s presentation.  She took us through the frame reproduction for the painting, Washington Crossing the Delaware.  This painting hangs in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.   Suzanne recreated every step in her Power Point presentation showing us how they reproduced the frame.  She explained how they researched the period frame, conserved and cleaned the actual art and installed the painting onto the MET walls.  They had to close the Metropolitan Museum of Art for the day in order to carry the pieces of the frame up the huge front steps.  Then she explained how they assembled the frame and installed the restored painting on the wall.  It was not easy dealing with the 149” x 255” piece of art!  It was a fascinating story.   

After her amazing story she took us through her period frames lecture.  She explained the composition of different period frames and explained how you can tell what time period they are from.  She talked about different kinds of gold used to repair frames and how to repair those that are damaged.

We thank Eli Wilner & Company for allowing Suzanne to speak to our CPPC members at their cost.  Eli Wilner & Company is now a member of the CPPC.  They encourage you to call them if you have the need for high value fine art frame repairs.

Military Panel by Kathy Kendall: Steve Kelly, USARCS was a co-moderator with Eric S. Vaughn, attorney, Senate Forwarding they were accompanied by a panel of Lina Hart, Suddath Van Lines; Kelly Dobis, Stevens World Wide; and Pam Johnson, National Claims Services. 

Kelly Dobis indicated that she felt that the military claims were easier to handle than the COD and National Account claims because they do have rules set forth for the handling that all TSP’s must follow.

Steve Kelly indicated that he felt the rules were changed to the commercial world’s practices to give the military customer more bargaining power during the claim settlement process. The DP3 claims liability rules are on the SDDC website.

Bill See suggested that we might want to monitor an inherent problem with 60” Samsung TV’s and to salvage more items.  It was discussed whether it would be beneficial for the TSP if the repair firm would suggest cash outs and then pick up those items for salvage while they are at the customer’s home.

It was discussed whether the TSP should assign for repairs not just an inspection because it is difficult to get on some of the bases so it would make more sense if the repair firm could take care of items during the initial trip.

The topic of fraud was discussed and how that is handled by the MCO (military claims office) and the government.  Of course it must be proven and the standard of proof would be “reasonable doubt”. Some allegations of fraud have not had the full picture and the claimant can provide additional explanations for the appearance of fraud on their claim.

The claims score plan was discussed since SDDC intends for the claims score to play a role in the overall customer satisfaction Best Value Scores.  There will be a working group from the services and the industry as there has been in the past with previous projects.  There was talk of including:

  • Points for the act of a claim being filed
  • Gain points for settling in 30 days or less not 60 days
  • Points for transferring to the MCO
  • Gain points for paying in a timely manner with the member having a button to click for the TSP paying in 30 days
  • Average # of days it takes TSP to settle
  • Amount paid vs. amount requested in DPS
  • A % of line items missing as a % of vs. the total # of line items
  • Payment made by TSP exceeds a certain $ amount
  • Carrier Recovery ( yes|no penalized more if the MCO must do an offset)

The working group will review what will be fair and viable as a practical matter.  These are not set in stone yet.

It was mentioned that the current DPS allows the customer to file numerous claims for the same shipment and those should not be held against the TSP since it is really only one move so only one claim should be filed.  This happens currently because the member cannot figure out how to submit additional items to the existing claim. Steve Kelly advised that SDDC does want the claims matrix to be included so we should count on that happening in the future.

Report Expectations by Chris Armes

This session was headed by Teresa Brown - National Van Lines, Laura Pung - Wheaton/Bekins/Clark and Reid and Natalie Harrison - Coleman American/Eagle Claims Service

It should be noted that this breakout session was highly attended by carrier representatives and repair firms alike.  There is a clear desire from all parties involved in the claims industry to continue to streamline and improve the reporting process from start to finish. 

Adjuster expectations were discussed at the start where by the panel stating that what’s important overall is confirming the work order, contacting the customer within 24-48 hours, notifying the adjuster of the appointment date (or any changes which may occur and why), and receiving the inspection or final report within a reasonable amount of time. Reasonable amount of time can be subjective based on the specific requirements to put all the finishing touches on a report, but a general expectation is 24-48 hours after the work is complete.

There were some comparisons made between inspection reports versus final reports where repairs have been made. Pictures are always expected regardless of the report and there should be a full sized picture followed by close ups of the damage(s).  In an inspection report, a repair estimate is desired even if the repair cost exceeds the amount claimed.  If repairs were approved prior to the inspection and this is the case, contact the adjuster and let them make that decision on how to proceed.  An exact example was given regarding this scenario whereby a bed had been damaged and the repair cost would exceed the amount claimed.  Welcome vernacular in a report would read something to the effect of, “repair cost exceeds amount claimed, but a repair estimate is provided for reference.  Liability at your discretion.”  Unwelcome vernacular would read, “Repair cost exceeds amount claimed, recommend cash settle”.  A repair estimate on the report provides options and leverage an adjuster can use to adjudicate the settlement.

If a specific make, model,  or any other brand name information can be found on any item on the claim it should be included in the report.  If repairs were authorized, a before and after picture of the repair is encouraged so as to potentially refute any rebuttals by the customer if reasonable repairs were made. 

There was some discussion regarding obtaining a signed release when repairs were made.  Some carriers, agents and TSPs require submission of a signed release in order to issue payment for repairs.  However, some felt that the release was sometimes only as the good as the paper it was written on.  Several cases arose regarding a spouse who was unwilling to sign a release without the other spouse “approving” of the repairs.  This can obviously prolong final invoicing, but communication is still key with the adjuster if this situation arises.

Finally, third party services were discussed.  The main third parties are the usual suspects: Appliances, electronics, and property damage (paint and sheetrock or flooring companies).  The question was asked about what other third parties were used and this was also dependent on the individual claim.  Some claims require a very seldom used and unique skill set.  However, the overall sentiment from the repair firms is that use of third parties for specific services does, in fact, save the carriers, agents and TSPs lots of money. 

A common theme arose throughout the course of the session.  Communication is paramount!  While most inspection and/or repair appointments will tend too be fairly routine, there is always the chance of a curve ball here and there.  When some sort of one off situation is encountered, it will ultimately save time, money and extra work for both adjuster and repair firm if every effort is made to keep the lines of communication open and often.

Today’s Professional Claimant by Pam Fischer: Standing your Ground

Moderator:  Vicky Kolmer, Moving Claim Solutions

Panel:  Bob Dickson, and Denise Valluzzi

Vicky from Moving Claim Solutions: Social Media is being used by customers to complain about their moves, repairs etc. 

Customer are becoming more professional in filing their claims and requesting more cash outs than repairs.  These customers have claimed the same item or items on several moves due to cash outs in lieu of repairs.

Denise from Unirisc:  National Account, Military members becoming professional claimants as they all talk and compare notes regarding settlements etc.

It was brought up that sometimes it takes money to save money such as Salvage.  Most companies are getting away from picking up salvage due to the cost however we are finding that claimants will claim and same piece over and over………..sometimes it may cost more to pick up the salvage but it could save us all in the long term.

We need to require more from our claimants to substantiate value:

            Purchase receipts

            Rider on their insurance policy?

We have gone from grateful customers to customers who feel they are entitled.  Some customer have been used to being self-insured and getting most of what they want are now being moved under a 3rd party where they are being held to the same rules as most customers when filing a claim.  Damage has to be substantiated, no pairs and sets and mechanical coverage.

Bob Dickson from Furniture Medic by Bluegrass Furniture Restoration:  gave a repair specialist’s point of view stated that they are seeing many red flags……no inventory numbers, all inventory stickers being removed prior to an inspection.

Customer requesting move cash outs and cosmetic allowances in lieu of repairs

Over Exaggerated claims.

Customers are more internet savvy and web sites that show customers how to file a moving damage claim and win.

One spouse present on inspection ok’s something then the other disagrees.

It was brought up that phone calls sometimes serve us best in this industry rather than e-mails that can be misinterpreted.  If there are negative issues a phone call to the adjuster or repair firm rather than an e-mail would be best.


  • We need to spend money to save money by picking up salvage, doing more repairs than cash outs.
  • Communication between adjusters, repair firms and insurance companies to hold down the professional claimant. 
  • More substantiation to validate a customer or member’s claim. 
  • Picking up the phone instead of e-mail communication, which becomes a permanent part of the file.  E-mails can be misinterpreted and can be evidence in a law suit.

Town Hall Meeting by Dori Bledsoe : New Orleans is much more than Bourbon Street and casinos. It is steeped in the history of many cultures. During the pre-Antebellum Age, the Indians living in the swamps took in and protected run-away slaves. To honor this debt there are several African American ‘Tribes’ of Indians that dance and challenges each other in their own Mardi Gras parade.  Shad and Mark Weathersby treated us to a performance by two of members of one of those tribes and they really shook those tail feathers. There were drummers playing while the ‘Indians’ chanted and danced. The costumes were made of feathers in the Mardi Gras colors with elaborate bead work.  Some costumes take over a year to make. This was a wonderful wake up call to start our Town Meeting.    

In the Town Meeting we announced the 2016 Spring and Fall venues of St. Louis Hyatt at the Arch and then Flamingo in Las Vegas. We discussed plans for the upcoming 50th anniversary which will be held in the Burbs of Chicago in April of 2017. We asked for pictures, stories, and any known where-a-bouts of any past members that have retired.  We discussed the possibility of getting our own Facebook account. We also discussed adding a section to the registration form where you may select which break out sections you plan to attend, so that we will be sure to have enough space to accommodate all in sessions.    

Trends in the Moving Industry by Debbie Morales: Keith McFarland was the speaker for the session.  Mr. McFarland is the Regional Manager for Agency Development with UniGroup Inc.

Mr. McFarland brought to light the trends that are currently going on in the moving industry.   The relocation market is broader.  We have a young professional market that is being relocated, as well as, top Executives for Corporations.  The owner operator and driver pool has changed as many seasoned drivers are heading into the retirement years.

We had some discussion about some articles that the younger generation is not as “attached” to their stuff as the baby boomers and that could be a factor in more cash outs vs. repairs; and also the younger  transferees prefer an IKEA bookcase instead of Aunt Sally’s curio cabinet, which brings in the cost factor of repairs vs cash outs.

It was very nice to be able to see what the van lines look at when preparing for their peak seasons and how all of this factors into risk management and daily operations.

Mr. McFarland brought many years of experience to us and shared a lot of his knowledge with us.

International Claims by Denice Valluzzi:
Moderator:     Debbie Morales, Metro Claims
Panel:             Lina Hart, Suddath Relocation
                       Liliane Benevenuto, Trans control Servico e Realocacao Ltda.

Debbie Morales lead this session with an overview of the challenges involved for both the repair firms and customers of international moves.  She described the “Four (4) Stages of Culture Shock” the customer’s experience.  “The Honeymoon, Hostility, Humor and Home.”     

The repair firms must be cognitive of cultural differences in the countries whether it is because “claims systems’ or religious / cultural concerns.  Accessibility to the customer’s residence, language barriers, access to material and parts all play a huge part in the differences and challenges overseas repair firms have.

Lina Hart discussed the differences between Military and Non-Military shipments. 

I could not keep up with or keep track of all the different terms, forms and declarations necessary to move shipments overseas.   The time frame involved with having Military vs. Non-Military moves vary greatly with the ability to have the shipments pass through customs.

I personally found the various customs fees astounding, the fees involved to ship cars was outrageous.  And, only being able to declare 1 liter of alcohol does not make it any easier!!  Interesting fact:  a fur coat would be considered “taxidermy” (not a great advertising selling feature for Nordstrom!)

One of our new CPPC members, Liliane  Benevenuto, not only traveled from Brazil for her first convention, but also jumped in to being a member of this panel.   Welcome again and thanks!!

She shared her daily “adventures of handling a claim” in Brazil.  Her first challenge is to co-ordinate a date with the customer and then, personally pick up an inspector, repair company.  If needed, 3rd party firms, and drive them to the residence (oh, and feed them breakfast and lunch too)

Customers are usually surprised when they find their claimed amounts/values are much lower than the actual cost to restore items in Brazil.

What can you do on international claims?  Look for a CPPC member in that country.  Find someone who speaks English or the customer’s language.  Find someone who knows transit damage and can do an inspection and/or repairs.

Looking forward to Debbie Morales, “Coming Soon” panel “Handling Claims in Cuba.”  Did I just volunteer Debbie for “another panel”??????

Art & Antiques: Value and Loss of Value by Tom Kuhns: Brenda Murray  started out her presentation by saying “she loves her job”.  Her presentation centered around value and loss of value.

She made the statement that ”value is everything when settling a claim”. She emphasized how important good documenting photos are to her when trying to determine value. Overall photos, close-ups of the damages and any manufacturer's information or maker’s marks are very important.

She also discussed ”what is an appraisal”. An appraisal is the act or process of developing an opinion on the value or cost of an item. She reviewed the appraiser's role in determining value to settle a claim. She discussed hobby items versus professionally produced items. She emphasized that the value of something is only what someone is willing to pay for it.

The types of values for claims settlement include replacement cost, production cost and retail replacement value. When performing an appraisal she needs to know has been appraised in the last three years, you have a picture or pictures of the entire item, a complete description of the item, any other pertinent information, a copy of the claim form, a copy of the inventory and is there an inspection report.

Brenda stated that a loss of value determination can only be done after restoration is complete. Loss of value does not always apply. Prior condition of an item, before damage or restoration, has a large bearing on loss of value. In other words, was in very poor condition prior to the loss occurring.

CPPCPardy Trivia Game by Dori Bledsoe: This CPPC version of the classic Jeopardy game show was programmed and hosted by Mel Pickett.  Assisted by Pam Fischer at the computer keyboard, they ran two groups of contestants through preliminary rounds of Industry related questions.  Jennifer Engle, Mark Weathersby and Teresa Brown were the first round contestants with Todd Marks, Heidi Whittier and Bob Dickson the second round contestants.  The final round presented Bob Dickson as the winner of the contest while everyone were entertained on industry information and various buzzer mal-functions.   

Prevention by Mark Weathersby: Moderator Keith McFarland, Restoration experts Mark Romano and David


Mark and David were asked about their methods of inspections.  Mark Romano tries to establish common ground and looks for similar experience and interests. Mark prefers to finish the walk-through before discussing the options.  David Glassberg prefers to keep it simple and direct without going off on different tangents. David feels this is the most efficient method for him.

Pre-existing damage, David suggested in a perfect world videos at origin would be perfect especially on high value products. Mark made a specific point about furniture quilts pulling off loose veneer on edges. Being careful can greatly reduce this type of claim.  It goes without saying that honest, legible and accurate inventories would help everyone. Keith pointed out that continuing education of sales staff and estimators to be alert for pre-existing and inherit vice possibilities.

Specific items mentioned were OLED TV sets. The very thin curved frame is very light in weight and is very vulnerable. Large TV's require 3 men to keep them from twisting. They must be crated with curve and have feet on the frame to keep it vertical. 3" foam should be used to help maintain the curve and provide protection.

The surges in mattress claims are due to the more expensive materials used in production. Memory foam can crack due to the cold and heat can dissolve the glue. New mattresses require new techniques for moving.  Foam mattresses cannot be moved on its side because of delamination. Keith provided us information on a superior mattress bag made by Balcan in Canada. The market name is MaxForce and the phone number is 877- 422-5226. Five reasons why Keith thinks this is a superior product.    

  • A full five mils thick plastic (same as new mattresses are shipped in)
  • Matt finish on the outside to which tape adheres well even in cold temps; better grip for laborers.
  • Smooth interior plastic for easy mattress insertion.
  • One way breathing vents allow moisture to escape from inside yet sheds water from outside. Solid plastic bags create a greenhouse effect trapping moisture which eventually condenses and wets the item; which presents the possibility of promoting mold growth.
  • Both bags and cartons have their applications. Some drivers like cartons as they are easier to build tiers on and around. Bags are nice for working in tight spaces and take up less room to store and transport.                                                           

Keep a lookout for mold at origin. The carrier is not obligated to move moldy items. Avoid if at all possible.

There are 3 levels of mold:

  1. White- Very new and cleanable
  2. Green- In most cases still cleanable
  3. Black- Very toxic and probably not cleanable on any soft goods

PBO items should be inspected by the carrier. If there is no inspection at origin then the carrier is exposed to liability for damage.  Keith McFarland says "you take it, you're liable."

Always search for "Hitch Hikers" (gypsy moths, bed bugs and the emerald ash boren) and leave them behind. Check all water craft and trailers for zebra and quanga muscles. These items could be impounded.

Everything You Wanted to Know, But Were Afraid to Ask by Bill See

This segment of the program was a question and answer session. The questions were submitted anonymously by the audience. Questions were given to Alan Jobe, the moderator, and submitted to the panel consisting of Dori Bledsoe, Brenda McCandless, Kathy Kendall, Linda Hamilton and Chuck Russell. The panelists gave their background, positions and experience in the industry as well as the make-up of their respective departments.

As the questions were anonymously submitted, they could be topics that are sometimes uncomfortable to discuss. The outline of the session, and questions are listed below. It was very informative with much insight given to these topics. 

  • 3rd Parties were discussed, and the issue that repair vendors face in time-lines while using a 3rd party.
  • What are some programs that your companies are doing to lower claim costs.
  • Issues of improper expectations being passed along to customers that repairmen have faced recently
  • Agency and operator awareness of excessive and consistent claims on specific items
  • How larger carriers decide on how many claims reps and adjusters to staff with forecasts and volumes of moves
  • Can corporate offices help repair firms collect past due invoices from individual agencies?
  • How repair firms “get into carrier systems” to be assigned claims
  • How effective is using Salvage as a bargaining tool in the claims resolution process?
  • What is each company’s current pay-out schedule on invoices?

Another element that came out of this session was that we learned that the 4 main carrier representatives have begun to meet occasionally to discuss common denominators of their work challenges and claim preventive ideas.

The questions were answered candidly and honestly. It was a productive session with new understandings in the topics that were discussed.

Convention Wrap-Up by Linda Hamilton:  

  • Dan Manning thanked Brenda, Chuck & Eric for Chairing the event as well as attendees/sponsors…
  • Brenda Murray thanked the panel participants as well as the extras for helping make this a successful event…
  • Dan asked for input from attendees on the event “Keep up the good work” was the response…
  • Discussion took place about future events and possibly increasing registration fees slightly to offset the rising costs of food, etc.
  • Suggestion was made for “newbies” possibly videotaping sessions at the event for later viewing
  • Further suggestion of “newbies” volunteering to be on event panels for more exposure