Dreams of Necessity
“I wandered into it because I was broke,” says McMurtry, who says she found insurance after a degree in German and political science left her with few career options and mounting student loan payments. She decided to earn a paralegal certificate and went to work for an insurance defense firm in San Antonio. She worked on auto litigation, caught the bug, and decided to attend law school to become an insurance defense attorney.
“A back injury that, once upon a time, would have been a $60,000 claim can now suddenly become a $600,000 claim.”
McMurtry, explaining why companies don’t want to try more cases for fear of a runaway verdict.
McMurtry’s transition from private practice to her inside counsel role at a non-standard auto insurer was aided by two things: her experience handling multi-jurisdictional matters across state and federal courts, and her knowledge of insurance coverage and bad faith, which she says was fostered by two mentors early in her career who encouraged her to specialize in those areas.
“I think insurance adjusters are some of the smartest, hardest working, creative thinking, resilient people out there.”
McMurtry, explaining the tough job adjusters have balancing helping those in crisis with avoiding mistakes that could become a “bet the company” situation these days.
McMurtry says bad faith is spreading to jurisdictions that, 16 years ago, wouldn’t have presented an issue. She says “gotcha” tactics like time-limited demands filled with complicated language and detailed conditions and limitations create opportunities for plaintiffs to claim a rejection of settlement and pursue bad faith. She says a demand letter today often features scattered conditions amidst pages of text, making it difficult to parse effectively.
“CLM has done the best job of any organization I’ve been a part of in terms of bringing together the industry.”
McMurtry, who says she picks up the phone and talks to someone she got to know through CLM at least once a week.