Alan Latham didn’t like me very much; he resented me for sure! I’d been foisted upon him by Mr Bucknell as his deputy and he’d had no say in the matter. Mr Latham was the ‘Claims Manager’ and a very highly qualified man too, on paper. He was a Fellow of the “Chartered Institute of Australia” an FCIA or something like that and he liked that sort of thing. I’d been in Insurance in Australia since 1951 and hadn’t bothered with the Institute and their exams. He set great store by them.
And here I was, suddenly dumped on him, his new Assistant Claims Manager, with no qualifications as such, 22 years old looking 15 or 16 and a drinker; and who was for some unknown reason Mr Bucknell’s blue eyed boy. Well that part was true, my eyes certainly are blue, probably a bit watery by now but blue nevertheless.
My first meeting alone didn’t go over too well, I had no idea how a Lloyds broker handled claims, I’d only worked for tariff companies like the Royal and Hartford, except for 3 weeks at a non tariff mob the N & G, I gave them notice after one week because I didn’t like the way they operated; when I handed my notice into the boss there she; yes a female boss in 1956, and told her that I didn’t want to ruin whatever reputation I had in the business she had the temerity to say that she needed people like me to give the company a good appearance, nowadays I suppose they’d say profile.
Anyway I told her I’d work out the 2 weeks required but I’d be leaving.
Done it again off on a tangent, back to my first meeting with Mr Latham, I said to him when we were alone something like ” I suppose you want me to look at a claim and see how we can get out of paying it!” he came back “If that’s the way you think and work you can walk out the door right now” (I told you he didn’t like me) “we don’t work like that here we look at a claim and say ‘can we pay this’ and if we say yes; we pay it. We don’t look for a way out we look for a way in”. And that was true, never ever did I look for a way out of paying any claim while I was there!
I’ll describe another time some of the more memorable claims I handled just for fun and some were believe me!
Being the ACM I was required to deal with ‘Loss Assessors’ ‘Solicitors’ and senior claims management at other companies, tariff and non-tariff and strange as it may seem a lot of this work was done and settlements reached over a couple of drinks. I’d learnt to drink a half scotch and water which I could handle a lot easier than beer. ( I was known as a 2 pot screamer on beer).
And this was the advantage I’d brought to Harvey Trinder; I could go out and negotiate a fair outcome over a quiet drink in neutral surroundings when the need arose. Mr Latham couldn’t; he was a “Rechabite” .
I had an interesting couple of years at Harvey Trinder’s so I’ll probably come back again and bore you some more 🙂