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LAKE LANIER ISLANDS, Ga.-About 40 members of the Society of Risk Management Consultants met earlier this month for the group's annual fall conference.

In between a scavenger hunt and hula lessons, the consultants heard a number of speakers, often peppering them with detailed questions.

In one session, they were told that policyholders use public adjusters to help with claims because "the public doesn't feel they will be treated fairly by an insurance company," said Bruce Swerling, a public adjuster with Swerling, Milton & Winnick in Boston.

Although in the past they have been called "ambulance chasers," commercial lines policyholders use public adjusters today in most major property losses, according to Mr. Swerling.

He also recommended that an adjuster become involved immediately after the loss occurs. "Once the problem is created, you have to work twice as hard to fix it," he said.

In another session, Richard Goldfarb, vp-finite risk underwriting at Greenwich, Conn.-based Risk Capital Re, discussed the intricacies of finite risk programs.

The essence of the programs, he said, is that policyholders buy only as much coverage as needed, resulting in a lower premium than under traditional coverage.

Finite risk programs also generally have a profit-sharing feature, allowing policyholders with few claims to recover part of their premiums.

Also, finite risk programs are heavily customized to fit the unique needs of the policyholder, he said.

The SRMC is an independent international organization of risk management consultants. Members provide advice on insurance, risk and related matters.

The SRMC's 1998 spring and fall conferences are scheduled to be held April 24-25 in Chicago and Oct. 8-10 in San Francisco.

For more information, write the Society of Risk Management Consultants, 300 Park Ave., 17th Floor, New York, N.Y. 10022, or visit its World Wide Web site at