The insurance business isn’t exactly known as a dangerous profession. But strange things do happen.
Visits to an Insured’s Property Can be Dangerous, and Even Deadly
In 2004, Florida’s young Katie Froeschle was a recent college graduate, and working for Florida Farm Bureau Insurance as a claims adjuster. It was hurricane season, and claims for property damage were on the rise.
On November 12 Katie was called to inspect some flood damage at a Tampa, Florida home. What would have been a routine home visit turned into a living nightmare, and Katie paid the ultimate price with her young life.
Authorities remain unsure what drove the resident of the home, Jason Funk, to hit Katie over the head with a motorcyle muffler and then dump her body in the river behind the house. Although he has repeatedly denied involvement in her death, local police used forensics to show that he was definitely the killer. They found Katie’s blood in his house, and even on his tennis shoes. To learn more about how they solved the case, look for Forensic Files episode “Muffled Cries.”
How Can This Kind of Tragedy Be Prevented in the Future?
Property Casualty 360, a national underwriter magazine, explains that there is often a communication disconnect between insurance adjusters and the tenants of rental homes, which can cause uncomfortable situations that may lead to violence. In Katie’s case, the landlord asked her to visit the house, and the tenant Jason Funk did not know of her scheduled visit. Because Funk was involved in illegal activities within the home (growing marijuana) and already had a long rap sheet, he may have believed he needed to silence her so she would not report him to the authorities or his landlord. The American Association of Public Insurance Adjusters has honored Katie by creating a safety manual for insurance adjusters working in the field.
What we can be certain of is that this was a tragic, senseless loss to the insurance community, and to the world as a whole.
To learn more about Katie Froeschle, visit the Katie Foundation.