A Recollection of the History of the Philadelphia Loss Conference

A Recollection of the History of the Philadelphia Loss Conference

Back in the day, which would be about 1979-1980, I applied and gained admittance to the Philadelphia Loss Conference, a well-respected local organization of insurance company personnel and independent adjusters involved in the handling of property losses.

First, a very brief synopsis. Benjamin Franklin founded the Philadelphia Contributionship in 1752. In 1929, Prentice B. Reed, Sr., first published¬†“Adjustment of Property Losses”. (This is still the requisite text if you are serious about learning the business.) At that time, it was recognized that property insurance is a different animal from casualty. (This distinction has been lost on some of today’s insurers in regards to adjustments.) The New York Standard Fire Insurance Policy was revised in 1943 to include the perils of lightning and removal. (The industry has not looked backed since.) Fire and Allied lines came next. (Allied because of WWII?) Standardization of policy forms occurred and then property and casualty lines merged into multiple-line policies. MIC policies were the precursors of the Homeowners program that started in 1958. On the commercial side, specific policies had been required for different types of perils, both property and casualty. The Special Multi-Peril Policy brought together many of these coverages. Business Interruption coverage emerged. (And the beat goes on.)

For every new policy written, losses occur that need to be adjusted. But what if the loss involves an unprecedented type of claim. How does the adjuster approach interpreting the policy and determining the covered amount of loss? I suspect the ever-growing number of policies with expanding coverage led to the founding of the Philadelphia Loss Conference where like-minded professionals could share ideas and resources.

When I was introduced to the Philadelphia Loss Conference, the majority of insurance companies, and a number of independent adjusting firms were located in what now would be described as East Philadelphia (between Market and Walnut, bordered by 2nd & 8th). Also, most public adjusting firms were in the same vicinity. (All five of them?) Therefore, the monthly luncheon meeting at the Downtown Club of the Public Ledger Building was a short walk for most members. After cocktails and lunch, the meeting began with strict adherence to Robert’s Rules of Order. A speaker as has continued today usually presented a topic of interest, with discussion following. Back then, the insurance companies fully supported attendance of adjusting staff since it increased their knowledge in the property loss field. Also, in a difficult business, having someone know exactly what you are going through leads to a lightening of the load and a welcome camaraderie. (I can only sympathize for today’s company field adjuster isolated in his basement with only a laptop, phone and fax. On behalf of all members, you would do yourself well to join our organization.) I served as president for several terms and continue to be a member. It has been a worthwhile experience.


John P. Kosherzenko

McShea Associates Inc.
47 Marchwood Road
Suite 2A11, Exton, PA 19341-1837