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June 17, 2022
Individually, I provide claims services directly to specific Parker, Smith & Feek clients. I also help each of our team members address claims and coverage issues as they come up. We try to solve our clients’ problems by engaging with important business liaison contacts at carriers, answering coverage or program questions, and acting as that high-level touch point for our clients when they need additional help on coverage for a claim.
I went to college at Idaho State University for two years before transferring to the University of Utah, where I finished my undergraduate degree in biology. I was trying to get into medical school, but I have terrible test anxiety and couldn’t get past the MCAT. My boyfriend at the time was in his first year of law school and was taking a criminal law class. He let me accompany him to the class one day after I started asking questions about law school. That day, the class was discussing the concept of mens rea using the movie Minority Report, which if you remember is all about arresting people before they commit any crimes. But you need mens rea, or intent, for a crime to have been committed, so they were discussing the philosophical implications of arresting people before the crime was committed. It really got me thinking about a legal education and sparked my interest. I don’t have any lawyers in my family; in fact, I was the first woman in the family to get a graduate degree. My parents didn’t quite understand when I told them I was going to law school, but they supported me, nonetheless. I really enjoyed law school. It changes how you look at the world and it’s an incredibly valuable degree, provided you can find a relatively affordable program.
I was interning at a law firm in Spokane and getting ready to graduate just a year before the Great Recession. Jobs were becoming more difficult to find, and after my internship, I wasn’t really sure that I wanted to work in a law firm. I was putting some feelers out there, and my fiancé’s (now husband) dad worked for a large international insurance broker with a subsidiary that provided specialized claims advocacy for their clients. The team already had lawyers on staff and was looking for someone fresh out of school, so I interviewed and got the job. When I started my job, my knowledge of insurance, like many people, was limited to a basic understanding of car and health insurance. In that first job, I learned insurance from the ground up.
I really enjoy dance and electronic music. Polo & Pan is a French group I really love; we had tickets to see them in January, but then we caught COVID-19 and couldn’t go to the concert; I wanted to cry. St. Lucia is another electronic artist I absolutely love from South Africa who’s playing at the Showbox in September on a Monday night. I missed his last Seattle show because I was in the middle of the interview process here at Parker, Smith & Feek and it was just too much to handle, so I told my husband, “I don’t care if it’s on a Monday night. We’re going to see him. Let’s go!”
Every claim is different. I like digging into a specific policy and parsing out the different components – the really nerdy, analytical part of my work. You have to remember that each client is unique; you need to understand what it is they do and what their policy covers, and then figure out how those two things fit together. That’s the piece that I love.
My husband is a lawyer and works for a firm where he specializes in insurance coverage and construction defect. He comes from an insurance family – his dad worked as chief claims officer, and his mom worked for Safeco as an adjuster and for one of Parker, Smith & Feek’s largest clients as a risk manager. It’s an interesting family dynamic and everyone’s very risk averse. There are no trampolines and nothing in the house that one of their clients once faced a claim over. Sometimes I have to help steer the conversation to lighter territory because they always jump to discussing the worst-case scenario. We have three boys together – thirteen, ten, and seven. Things are always busy around here.
We’re still working with a few clients on COVID-19 claims. It’s been interesting to see the beginning and ending of those claims since the circumstances were so unexpected and unprecedented, and they have become so complicated. We have a client that had significant property damage during protests in 2020 and are still litigating the claim with the carriers, and it’s become a huge entanglement of whether the damage was COVID-related or due to rioting. These past few years have had such turmoil, and it’s taken insurance into new areas. There are new risks out there with no precedent or insurance product to match. These new questions have been getting hashed out in the court systems, and we’re now finally starting to see the final decisions. There’s also public policy at play, as the government is making decisions on what carriers need to cover regardless of whether that was the intended risk to be covered by the policy. It’s a delicate balancing act, and the past few years have driven a fascinating evolution in the industry.
We love to travel, and after COVID-19 it’s become even more important and meaningful to our family. We were supposed to go to Vietnam, Cambodia, and Hong Kong before the pandemic hit, and my brother was supposed to get married in Iceland, and we were extremely bummed to have to cancel those trips. We spent the pandemic travelling domestically and began international travel again last fall, which has been amazing. We just went to Vancouver, B.C. over the Memorial Day weekend, after two years of not traveling to Canada, and we walked 11 miles each day around the city with our boys, just eating fabulous food and seeing sights. We spent almost three months inside when the pandemic first hit, so getting out and traveling again has been incredibly healthy and rewarding. It’s reminded us of the big picture of why we work so hard – my oldest son has been to 19 countries so far, and we want to keep that going.
Where are you from? Pocatello, Idaho
Family? Husband, Brendan; son, Beckim (13); son, Egan (10); son, Lochlan (7).
Favorite vacation spot? Sweden; I want to go back and explore more of the country.
Favorite books of the year? Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine; Vanderbilt: The Rise and Fall of an American Dynasty; and Barry Sonnenfeld, Call Your Mother: Memoirs of a Neurotic Filmmaker
Seattle favoriates? The variety of food. Pocatello had one Chinese restaurant when I was growing up. There were no sushi restaurants or Thai food. But now, I live in a city where I can get dim sum, Sichuan, Indian, Vietnamese, ramen, or almost anything else at any time. No matter where we travel, we always comment that Seattle has the best variety of food of any city.