“While a corporate risk manager, my associates suggested I write a book about risk management,” said Robert Underdown. “Instead, after my career as a claims manager for insurance companies and a risk manager for public and private corporations, I began to write insurance expert witness opinions. I got involved because a friend asked me to provide an expert witness opinion on an insurance case and I discovered not only was I really good at it, but I also found it fun and exciting.”
Underdown is an insurance and risk management consultant and testifying insurance expert witness located in Scottsdale, providing services across the United States. He has over 30 years of experience in the insurance industry. Some of his areas of expertise include: insurance industry custom and practice, agent/broker standard of care, bad faith claims, claims handling, construction defect coverage opinions, general coverage opinions, life insurance suitability opinions, and risk management standards.
Underdown’s career began as a life insurance salesman right out of college. He later transitioned into the insurance claims industry progressing from a field adjuster to branch claims manager. Next he became a corporate risk manager for a variety of entities, during which time he further honed his insurance coverage skills and knowledge with a variety of coursework and seminars leading to several insurance designations such as a certificate of general insurance, associate in claims (AIC) and an associate in risk management (ARM). One of the things Underdown enjoys about his practice is acting as a consultant, because while retained as a testifying expert, he has the expertise necessary to participate in planning just how to approach a particular case. In cases with a risk management component, he brings value because he understands the standards for the operation of a corporate risk management department, including the intricacies of self-insured programs.
Working on cases that address a variety of issues keeps him engaged and well rounded. Also, by continuing to work cases with both defense and plaintiff attorneys he obtains additional insight and can identify merits on either side of a case. When advising attorneys on the selection of experts, Underdown cautions against using an expert who can be categorized as only a plaintiff or defense-oriented expert. One of the benefits Underdown brings to a case is to be able to analyze both sides of the case clearly because of his background.
Underdown notes, “Insurance cases can be very interesting especially with extra-contractual cases where the possibility exists for a creative plaintiff attorney to take a minimum limits case and turn it into a huge bad faith case against a recalcitrant insurance carrier. A case that stands out in my mind is one in which a creative plaintiff ’s attorney turned a minimum limits policy of $15,000 into a $5 million judgment. Now that’s creativity – finding valid points that others miss!”
As a past president and a current member of the Arizona chapter of the Forensic Expert Witness Association, Underdown has an extensive network of contacts, and if he is unable to handle your particular issue he will know someone who can.