Canadian Underwriter

What’s keeping claims pros up at night?

October 16, 2019   by Adam Malik

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From left, Kumar Sivakumaran, Becky Cameron, Glen Hopkinson, Erin Fischer and John Sharoun, take part in an interactive audience panel at the recent CIAA Claims Summit in Toronto.

Talent shortage and keeping pace with change are two of the top issues facing claims professionals over the next three to five years, but that’s just the start of their concerns.

Meeting policyholders’ service level expectations and the volatility of claims patterns are also on their radar.

“When I think about service delivery … my concern is meeting the client’s expectations from a technology perspective,” AXA XL’s Glen Hopkinson said at the Canadian Independent Adjusters’ Association Claims Summit last week in Toronto.

Claims pros do a good job on the soft skills and communications end of things, he said, but the policyholders’ main concerns are around the simple things like wondering why the industry still pays out claims using paper cheques.

Hopkinson used the example of a company dental plan. After you go to the dentist, you file your claim and the money shows up a couple of days later. “We’re not at that level yet,” he said as part of a panel that polled the audience on various questions and then gave their insights. “How can we take some of those technology tools and implement them in a large commercial space? It’s a challenge.”

Shorter cycle times result in the quick handling of a file, leading to a more satisfied client, said Kumar Sivakumaran of ClaimsPro. The whole idea is to enhance the customer experience. “In order to gain that, you have to leverage technology….In order to leverage technology, we have to face change management, because we struggle with having to compete with speed and yet not compromise [the] quality [of claims-handling].”

Therein lies the challenge, said panelist Becky Cameron of Aon. Companies can get the smartest people and get them trained to the highest possible level, but it’s all for naught if you can’t keep pace with change. “No matter how many training programs or mentoring programs we set up, our ability as organizations to consistently deliver those models is a challenge the industry must face,” she said.

Circling back to the problem of talent, Erin Fischer of Wawanesa senses a lack of excitement around the claims sector from the outside looking in. Claims professionals are struggling with “how to create a buzz around the industry to get new entrants to work in claims,” she said, adding that claims adjusting is a “great, noble” job. “It’s a fabulous thing. What do you do? You help people.”

This isn’t to say the claims sector hasn’t achieved recruiting success. But greater emphasis needs to be placed on turning claims experts into ambassadors in order to attract people from other industries. For example, Fischer said, why can’t the person who is taking your blood pressure work in accident benefits?

“There are lots of great options as people are changing careers more often,” she said, adding that the industry needs to engage recruits in a different way than they have in the past.

John Sharoun of Crawford & Company acted as the moderator for the panel. He agreed with Fischer’s assessment of claims being “maybe the most noble thing you could do in this industry.” However, the challenges of the job can scare people off, he noted.

“My experience has been that, as an IA [independent adjuster], you’re on call,” said Sharoun. “You’re being called after hours. Not everyone wants to work all the hours we’re obligated to work. We lose people to carriers and to brokers. It seems that, from their perspective, it’s a more structured 9-5 job with less stress and is more in line with their personal lives.”

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2 Comments » for What’s keeping claims pros up at night?
  1. I absolutely agree with everything said in this article. I was looking for the other two pages though…as it just didn’t seem to be tied up in the end. Perhaps there is a sequel coming? Hint hint…

    Changes to the way claims are being handled, the service expectations of today’s consumer, and the grind of working in claims are definitely huge challenges that need to be overcome – and I don’t see clear and decisive answers yet. Even at ICC where I work we are challenged with the same claims related evolving changes that tasks our efforts and staffing every day.

    One of the issues that adds to the complexity is that each insurers is driving changes at their own pace and through their own internal processes. This makes predicting the path of change very difficult and not very efficient. This debate on the changing landscape of claims handling will continue for a while I’d expect and may not have clear definition for some time. I hope to help drive change to better the P&C industry where I can. The struggle is navigating the correct path and changing course quickly.

  2. Mark says:

    I have been an independent property insurance adjuster for 16 years and have worked with several Independent firms around the country. I have done daily and CAT, residential and commercial claims with nearly every property related Peril there is.

    I find it interesting that I have not seen an article that talks about the fact that the various Carriers have not raised our fee schedules (pay) since 2011. You see we are sub-contractors that get paid ‘piece work’. i.e. gig workers.

    At the same time they now demand 3 times more work within a claim than they did in the past as they have the attitude that “hey it’s only a few clicks so it shouldn’t be any problem, and No we are not paying you more for that work”. However the trick is KNOW which clicks to perform and the reason WHY I am estimating or allowing payment for something or not. That’s called Specialized Knowledge, and no I don’t think artificial intelligence is up to That particular task yet.

    AND since the pay has been stagnant and since many older and experienced are sick of the micromanagement for 20 year old ‘supervisors’ yes, they are leaving the industry and are not passing on their very valuable knowledge and expertise. Why would they? The Carrier has a contractual obligation to indemnify the claim and the individual adjuster could simply care less, as they are not being paid to care, they are merely expected to listen to complaining customers and to wear-out the customer by non-action. That saves the Carrier money they can use to fight arbitration and litigation on those claims. And Why, do you ask, does the insurance industry have a bad reputation?

    Speaking of claim indemnification – yeah, the Carriers are not looking to do that anymore. Whether they actually say it or not, the only thing they truly care about is that the claim is closed in the shortest timeframe possible. Indemnified or not, correct or not, fair (to anyone) or not. Their attitude is that the Insured will ‘go away’ eventually. And management’s attitude is ‘you will handle it, so I don’t have to’.

    Without professional pay, the Carriers are Not going to get or maintain a professional workforce, no matter what job descriptions are called, or which college someone might have attended. I have heard industry professionals talk about getting someone fresh out of college and then they only work for 3 months and then quit. Hmmmm, you may wanna know exactly Why that happens. Job title? Experience? Starbucks not being delivered to your desk? Or the general work environment and the (skinny) PAY.

    So how about an article that might actually help the Perception of a Claims Adjuster? What would that be? A high enough wage or Independent Adjuster Fee Schedule where the Carrier could then demand the best and the brightest that Would stay with them and care about actually doing their job. Then those that Are pleased with what they are doing and how they are actually Helping others just might talk to their friends about it, and there just might be enough Quality applicants to choose from to DO a quality job, and they would be more likely to stay in this job.

    How about an article on how increased Pay for our Specialized Knowledge could change the dynamics of claims adjusting.

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