When a policyholder files an insurance claim for property damage, most have two expectations:

  1. My insurance will delivery and I will be able to return my property back to its condition before the disaster.
  2. My insurance company will assign a person to help me who has the experience, time, and ability to make No. 1 a reality.

If you reading this blog, then chances are your insurance company failed to live up to your expectations. In a recent article in Claims Journal, reporter Denise Johnson gives some insight into what insurance company adjusters are doing instead of responding to your problems. The data from her article comes from the Claims Journal 2013 Job & Salary Survey.1

Survey responses tell us why your claim is not going well.

Not Enough Adjusters
Adjuster surveys revealed that within the industry there is a lack of employer commitment to hiring experienced adjusters to replace those who retire. Most felt that the staff size was unlikely to increase in 2013 but that staffing was a problem. As explained by one survey respondent, “Industry-wide, I think staffing has always been too low in claims”.

Inexperienced Adjusters
Everyone has to start somewhere but where are the experienced adjusters? Trained and mentored adjusters are leaving & retiring. While not part of the survey, a look at the background of many successful public insurance adjusters will show they began their careers working for insurance companies. Many adjusters now only help homeowners as a result of certain corporate rule changes that have gutted true adjusting and fairness to insureds. For those who have stayed on as company adjusters, the survey shows that the claims talent pool is getting older and continuing to shrink because of senior staff retiring at a quickening rate.

Your Adjuster is Too Remote
According to the Survey, property damage adjusters are commonly remote adjusters. Remote and telecommuting employees can be disadvantages because they are never in “the office” and these adjusters need more self-discipline. Claim consultant, Chris Tidball found it can be more difficult to manage people because of the increased distractions that happen when your office time is done at home or on the road. Not having the office atmosphere can also make an impact education and the learning on the job that takes place when surrounded by your colleagues.

Too Many Claims, Not Enough Time
If the company is giving a large number of claims to an adjuster, especially an adjuster who is not experienced and trained, this spells disaster for a proper adjustment of a loss. Kevin Quinley of Quinley Risk Associates commented on how administrative work can bog down an adjuster and that management needs to ‘monitor adjuster caseloads to maintain file quality, staff morale, turnover and to control leakage. More importantly it can save the company from bad faith claims.”

No Power to Pay
It’s a big problem if the person assigned to handle and hopefully settle your claim does not have the power to do so and this trend is becoming more and more the norm. Only 6% of the adjusters who participated in the survey had settlement authority of $500,000.00, the majority of survey participants were capped at $50,000.00 in authority.

We welcome our readers to share their comments and opinions about their claim experiences. Do you disagree with the survey information?


1 In April and May 2013, 647 participants from 46 states responded.

 

  • Jarrod Baker

    As a Public Adjuster in Pennsylvania, the issues addressed above are my daily complaints. As a PA, I have had the opportunity over the last 6 years of handling claims ranging from $5,000 up to $1.5 million, and I have adjusted nearly every type of property and casualty claim for both residential homeowners and large commercial clients. There is no distinction for me between large and small loss or normal or complex claims – I handle every aspect of the claims that come across my desk.

    However, the average adjuster I run into – whether large or small loss – is typically focused on only one aspect of the claim. Whether it be building, personal property, business income, additional living, loss of use, etc. – the average adjuster is only assigned to one area of the claim or coverage and has little to no experience handling the other aspects of the loss. I also find that the company adjusters aren’t all that experienced at handling that one aspect of the claim that they are assigned to. If they are a contents adjusters they treat it as a stepping stone to becoming a building adjuster; if they are small loss they are working towards adjusting larger losses. They do very little to perfect their craft, and the companies do very little to incentivize them towards helping the insureds.

    “The too many claims, not enough time” is basically just built in to the business model for most insurance companies. If they overload the adjusters, then they will be unable to spend too much time on any one claim. The inherent results of that approach is that the adjuster will missing things that ultimately result is lower payments for claims. I think insurance companies also purposefully employ inexperienced adjusters and not enough adjusters for this same purpose. The less an adjuster knows and the more that adjuster is overloaded, the more likely they will be to miss things that keep loss payments at a minimum. The burden then falls back on the insured to figure out the mistakes and prove the full amount of the loss.

    “No power to pay” is just bad business in my opinion. I would likely settle claims at a much faster rate – and possibly to the carrier’s financial benefit – if I could consistently work with someone who has full settlement and payment authority. I have adjusters that I work with on a regular basis who have that authority and we can typically reach an agreeable and equitable settlement in a fraction of the normal timeframe because those adjusters can settled the claim much more quickly and get payment out the door much faster. Time is money, and I think the carriers should use that to their advantage by granting adjusters more authority to just get claims settled and paid out without having to go through 3 and 4 levels of supervisor review.

  • Gary Greenfield

    My experience in Florida is that field adjuster rarely have any authority to settle claims. In fact, only one company I’ve dealt with in the last three years gives their field adjusters that authority…at ANY level. Most field adjusters just seem to be measurement and note takers.

  • Robert Hutchins

    I don’t think that the lack of Adjusters is due to retirement, I think it is because the employers aren’t taking care of the adjusters and they are leaving. Many get into other insurance roles or work different types of claims. I definitely agree with the too many claims, not enough adjusters theory.

  • Madeline T. Smith

    Well, if the adjuster is not experienced and trained and he is given a large number of claims, definitely he will have a hard time dealing with all those claims, then i guess it all boils down to hirng experienced and trained adjusters. Insurance companies should properly train their adjusters for them to be able to handle a large number of claims or maybe they can lessen the amount of claims that an adjuster will handle.