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L. Neil Smith's
Number 467, May 11, 2008

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Dangerous Liasons
by Russell D. Longcore

Attribute to The Libertarian Enterprise

My favorite firearm is my Glock Model 21, chambered in .45 caliber. It is my primary carry weapon, and it is seldom more than arm's length from me. It is perfectly balanced, shoots easily and very accurately.

Remember the Mel Gibson scene in the movie Lethal Weapon, where character Sgt. Martin Riggs goes to the gun range and shoots a smiley face on a silhouette target from about 75 feet? My Glock .45 allows me to shoot smiley faces at will.

I'm an insurance claims adjuster by profession. I've had a few close calls doing field investigations over the years. Let me tell you three quick stories.

What follows is excerpted from Chapter Eight in my book, Insurance Claim Secrets REVEALED!

Friends, I am a firearms enthusiast. I enjoy shooting pistols, rifles and shotguns as a sport. It is very satisfying to be able to hit a paper target from a significant distance. It's also satisfying to be able to shoot accurately at very close range.

It's really all about math. Calculating the distance to a target and how to dial in a rifle scope so the bullet hits a target many hundreds of yards away is mathematic in its precision, but there's still an art to it.

I find myself in remote areas occasionally. I find myself in very dangerous parts of large cities on occasion. These three stories happened early in my claims adjusting career. They are all related to a certain insurance company that insured vacant and foreclosed dwellings.

The first incident happened in a very cold morning in January in Atlanta. I had an assignment to inspect fire damage in an abandoned house in a certain neighborhood in Atlanta not exactly known for its mansions. Because of its location, I figured that if there was anyone using the house for shelter, they'd probably not be awake at 7:30 am. I had a key to the front door. I got to the house and placed my pistol in its holster on my right hip. I picked up my big flashlight, camera and clipboard and headed for the house. I turned the key in the lock and walked in.

I announce loudly that I was a claims adjuster, just in case someone was inside. No answer. I began writing down and photographing the damages I saw. Then, I came to a bedroom door that was mostly closed. The hair on the back of my neck stood up. I pulled my pistol from its holster and kicked the door.

In the middle of the room was what looked like a pile of moving van quilts. But when I shined my light on it, the pile moved. I shouted that I was just a claims adjuster, not a cop, and that I was just looking at damages. The guy under the quilts said "OK". I took one photo of that room, and backed out all the way to the front door. I got in my car and left.

Next incident was on the other end of the same street, southwest side of Atlanta. This time it was summertime. I was supposed to inspect a vacant old Victorian house. The property sat right next to a national hamburger chain restaurant. I parked my car in the restaurant parking lot and started to gather my stuff. Before I could get out of my car, I saw two men walk out of the front door of the house like they owned the joint. I picked up my cell phone and called Atlanta Police.

I told the 911 operator what I was supposed to do, and that I suspected that more people might be in the house. She dispatched a patrol car to the location, and about five minutes later, the officer pulled his cruiser up next to my car. He said that he would go to the house first and check for squatters. I asked him if he had backup, and he did not. I showed him my permit and my pistol, and offered to back him up. He accepted and we inspected the house. Fortunately, we did not find any other "residents" that day.

The last incident happened that same summer, after a violent storm damaged a foreclosed vacant dwelling in the same neighborhood in southwest Atlanta. I had to inspect the roof for wind damage, so I got my stuff together with my folding ladder and headed for the front of the house.

I stood my ladder up to the eave and climbed up. I began measuring the roof and making a roof diagram. Suddenly, I heard someone shouting to me from the ground. I went over to where the ladder was, and found four teenaged boys at the bottom of my ladder. One of them told me that they would not remove my ladder and leave me on the roof if I'd just toss down my wallet.

So, I slowly reached my right hand back and drew my pistol. I showed it to the friendly young men and suggested that they put some distance between themselves and my ladder. They politely and rapidly obliged, and I did not see them any more that day. I hurried about my business and left.

You might be shocked that I would pull a gun on teenagers. But, I read watch the TV news just like you do, and I know that a teenager with a cheap little handgun can shoot me just as dead as an adult can. I don't take chances.

I stopped taking assignments from that insurance company. I figured that they didn't pay me nearly enough to take the chance of getting shot to inspect a vacant house.

And you wonder why some claims adjusters get grumpy after a while?

Copyright 2008, All Rights Reserved.

Russell D. Longcore is one of those rare individuals who found the perfect career and loves every minute of his work. Russell has an insurance claims practice in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. In his career, he has handled claims as simple as a water leak in a home, and as complicated as multi-million dollar commercial property and liability losses. Russell has a breadth of knowledge and wisdom about insurance, money and life, and writes widely about those issues in publications, newspapers, magazines and blogs. He is married to "his redhead" Julie, and has three wonderful children, and three even more wonderful grandchildren.

Russell can be reached at:

Abigail Morgan Austin Publishing Company
1750 Powder Springs Road, Suite 190
Marietta, Georgia 30064
Also, my blog is at:


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