Subrogation Lessons from the 2018 NAPIA Annual Meeting

Last week, the Swerling leadership team traveled to Hershey, PA to attend the 2018 National Association of Public Insurance Adjusters (NAPIA) Annual Meeting.  This annual event is a terrific opportunity to connect with public adjusters from all over the country and discuss the priority areas for our industry.

During the session, NAPIA general counsel Brian Goodman, along with NAPIA past president Randy Goodman, presented a case study that brilliantly captured the must-know elements of a critical area for our industry – subrogation.


Titled “A Tale of Two Cities – Subrogation and Litigation in the Fire Context,” the Goodman brothers highlighted the relevant and often complicated issues related to priority of claims between a subrogating insurer and an underinsured and injured claimant. The presentation examined a case that presents salient adjusting issues impacting first-party property claims and the order of payment for these claims after a property loss.

Are you familiar with IPE oil? Your local fire department certainly is. House fires are often caused by rags used to wick up IPE oil while, for example, staining a homeowner’s deck. When stored improperly, these IPE-soaked rags can spontaneously combust and spread flames to the house and other paints/solvents stored nearby.

The case in question centered around causative elements of the fire as a result of the mishandling and storage of IPE oil. More broadly, it highlighted the key elements of general subrogation, including the reality that it can be an equitable, contractual or statutory right. The key question in subrogation cases is typically this: If the insured is not fully reimbursed for its losses, who gets the first dollar of recovery from the third-party tortfeasor? It’s well worth noting, as the Goodmans emphasized, that the answer to this question will vary from state to state.

We will be examining this critical issue more closely in upcoming posts, including one or two that feature an actual interview with Brian Goodman. Stay tuned!

If you’ve had a fire, flood or other property loss resulting in an insurance claim, and need a public insurance adjuster in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, New England or anywhere in the U.S. or Caribbean, call Swerling Milton Winnick. We are the oldest and largest public adjusting firm in New England, and our team of experts will give you personalized, 24/7 attention to successfully resolve your residential or business insurance claim.