Canadian Underwriter

It’s time to address Canadian adjuster mobility, claims experts say

February 10, 2023   by Alyssa DiSabatino

Young woman in a yellow shirt onlooking ruins of a house after fire disaster.

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Developing and effectively using the pool of Canadian claims adjusters for catastrophe response is a problem that continues to keep adjusting firms up at night, experts told a CatIQ Connect panel on Wednesday. 

“Most people don’t realize that seven of the biggest IA [independent adjusting] firms in this country rely on American and international support,” said Kyle Winston, Chair of CRU Group, during Insurance Adjusting Challenges and Opportunities. 

“Without that ability to tap into our partner networks across the United States or in Europe, claims handling would come to a grinding halt. And that would have major ripple effects to customer satisfaction, claims impact, and the whole process would simply wither and die.” 

Say a carrier reaches out to two adjusting firms to respond to a NatCat. Each firm may have about 250 adjusters on hand, explained Hall Noble senior manager of CAT response, national catastrophe claims at TD Insurance.  

“But what I have to realize is, that’s not a total of 500, because a lot of those people are exactly the same people,” he said, by way of example. “[Carriers] have to be aware that as we are taking from one, we are removing the potential to get more capacity for another provider.” 

Panellists also discussed whether there is enough capacity to send Canadian adjusters to respond to Canadian cat events. 

Every province has a different adjuster licensing requirement, explained Janak Lally, national president of the Canadian Independent Adjusters’ Association. This means adjusters cannot easily work between provinces. 

“One of the goals that we’re looking for is to harmonize that and have one license across the board.” 

During disasters, regulators may temporarily relax their rules to allow out-of-province adjusters into the province to help deal with a large number of claims. For example, the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario (FSRA) temporarily allowed licensed adjusting companies to use claims adjusters with licences outside of Ontario during the May derecho storm that swept Ontario and Quebec.  

“Those are one-offs, but we’ve got to make it a lot easier,” said Lally who is also assistant vice president of Lower Mainland & B.C. Interior at ClaimsPro. “That’s something that we’re trying to do as a team, all firms together…because water damage in B.C. is no different than water damage in Ontario.” 

Panellists also considered whether Canada would have adequate adjuster support if a major Cat were to occur on both sides of the U.S.-Canada border — for example, an earthquake across the Pacific Northwest. 

“Short-term, unfortunately, yes, it would be a major problem because of the drain on resources,” said Winston.  

And while a cross-border event would strain adjuster capacity in Canada, it would also impact engineers as well. For CRU, most of their engineering partners are based the U.S., although they have three in Australia, Winston explained.  

“In an event like that, [which could affect] Seattle all the way through Vancouver, probably 80% of adjusting and engineering resource would be sucked into the U.S. side.” 

To address capacity issues and a shortage of Canadian talent, adjusters should consider getting in front of future candidates as early as possible, panellists said.  

“Most people here have never had any interaction with insurance outside of buying a policy. So when you have a claim, that’s really — from a customer perspective — the first time the rubber hits the road, the first time you’re having any interaction and understanding what goes into the policy,” said Winston. 

Letting the general public know about what the industry has to offer may be best started at the school level, said Lally. “I think we have a duty to keep making sure we go into schools and getting the awareness of what the adjusters do.” 


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