Appraisers & Inspectors: How to drive defensively

Monday, July 1, 2013

Written by Brian Trotier

From the first moment we start getting interested in driving all we hear from everyone around us is how important it is to drive defensively.

Auto insurers run entire ad campaigns based on defensive driving. Parents repeat it every time they hand over the keys. Driving instructors insist on it. Even passengers try to help by pointing out you are too close to the curb, too close to the car next to you, or too close to whatever other possible risk exists on the road.

Think about all the catch phrases used:


  1. Buckle up for safety.

  2. Drive defensively.

  3. Look out for the other guy.

  4. Think before you drive.

  5. Chance takers are accident makers.

OK, you get the idea. What has this got to do with you and FREA? Well, FREA provides risk management services for appraisers and inspectors. Just like you need to learn to drive defensively when you are behind the wheel, you also need to drive defensively while at work.

Think about it. If you had to “buckle up” every time you sat down to write a report, wouldn’t you be more careful and thoughtful about what you said? Or if you had to look at a list of the 5 mistakes most likely to get you sued before you signed a report, wouldn’t you re-read it just one more time before signing?

As a risk management firm, FREA doesn’t just handle your errors and omissions insurance coverage or help you when you have a claim. FREA teaches you to be a better defensive driver at your desk so your risk of getting a claim is lower and the cost of resolving any claim you do get is reduced.

Here are a few tips for driving defensively from behind your desk. If you make this list as much a part of your work behavior as the list above is part of your driving behavior, you will have fewer accidents and those you do have will be fender benders instead of rollover crashes.

  1. Slow down and take a few extra minutes to check your work because you can be sure someone, somewhere, sometime in the future will be willing to take a few minutes to find your mistakes.

  2. Ask someone who isn’t an Appraiser or Inspector to read one of your reports every so often. If what you wrote doesn’t make sense to them, it probably won’t make sense to your client either. Confused clients are much more likely to file claims.

  3. Avoid using specialized jargon. Instead, use plain English. Then, if you ever find yourself in front of a judge who is trying to understand your report, the judge will not have to rely on some expert hired after the fact to explain what you said or meant.  

  4. Don’t take on an assignment you are not trained to perform, no matter who asks or how much money you will make. Think about giving a new driver who learned to drive a VW Beetle the keys to a Ferrari and you’ll understand. Having a license to drive is way different from being able to drive every kind of car well.

  5. Last, but not least, “buckle up” because sometimes even the best defensive driver gets rear ended.

At FREA we have 20 years of risk management experience and we have resolved over 3300 claims for our members. Does your carrier have this kind of experience and longevity? If not, you may be getting exactly what you are paying for and once you have a claim, it’s too late to do anything.

At FREA, we’ve got your back!

Brian L. Trotier, JD, is the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of FREA and a former practicing attorney with more than 30 years experience in real estate and risk management.

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