"Are You OK?"

Broken windshield

It should have been a 10-minute stop for a physical damage field adjuster of my experience. The vehicle was a total. I needed to secure two signatures, review the settlement numbers and issue a payment. Simple!

I knocked on the door, and the customer invited me in. She was a pleasant, older woman and quick to laugh. We’d talked on the phone about how lucky she had been. A truck had lost a big piece of pipe. It flew through her windshield, and damaged the roof of her car. A few inches either way, and she wouldn’t have been there to talk about any of it.

As we sat, she relayed more of the story. The trucker hadn’t realized he’d lost the pipe. Bleeding and injured, she chased him down. He has insurance. She has an attorney. It will all get worked out.

I noticed that she was badly bruised, and asked if it was from the accident. She nodded, “The swelling has gone down. But I’m still picking bits of glass from my hair and neck.”

I shook my head, and simply asked, “Are you OK?” 

She began to cry. “I’ve talked with a million people since this all started. I’ve never had anything like this ever happen to me before. I had to hire a lawyer. I don’t know anything about how all this works. But, you’re the first person to ask if I was OK.”

I was stunned. Tears welled up in my eyes. I told her how very sorry I was, and we just sat there for a bit. All the confusing insurance stuff went right out the window. It was just her and me, both in tears, just very happy she was still there to tell the tale.

The moment passed. We got everything done.  As I headed out the door she apologized for breaking down, and thanked me for being so nice. I told her everything would be OK and asked her not to cry as we’d both be in tears, again. Thankfully, she laughed.

She will be OK.

Maya Angelou said it best: "I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."

Sometimes, it is we, who learn from our customers. I’ve done this for a long, long time and asked, “Are you OK?” many, many times. But I will never forget those few minutes, and how quickly a very special woman reduced everything we do into a moment of just being human.

by Jim Shea on Fri, Sep 05 2014 8:06 am
Posted by Jim Shea on Fri, Sep 05 2014 8:06 amJim Shea is physical damage claim field senior adjuster for American Family Insurance.


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