September 30, 2015 by Fred Plant, President, Canadian Independent Adjusters' Association
Ours is a honourable profession. You should be proud of the important work you do everyday – delivering the product of the Property & Casualty Insurance Industry in Canada.
We have all heard it said that nothing works without insurance. No planes fly, no buildings are built, no food is produced; even a pumpkin tossing event was cancelled this fall due to the unavailability of insurance. None of the insurance cover that allows our modern world to spin would be possible were it not for the men and women around the world who, like CIAA members across Canada, deal with the multitude of claims that emanate from all that insurance coverage.
There are few, if any, P&C insurers in Canada who do not call on independent adjusters to help deliver on the promises embedded in their policies. Some insurers engage independents routinely – to the extent of being a significant component of their operation. Others retain us only when claim volumes exceed in-house capacity or when a catastrophic event occurs. When the CATs hit, we are everyone’s best friend.
Although independent adjusters provide a vital service, many across the country are questioning the relationship they have with their insurer customers. Rather than feeling valued, respected and encouraged to perform at the top of their game, some are concerned for the future of their profession. The insurers’ quest for ever-improved bottom-line results through expense reduction has transformed adjusting to much less than it ever was.
The measure of loss adjustment success may be more about compliance with process and less about investigation and indemnity. In conversation with adjusters across Canada I sense the fabric of the insurer/adjuster relationship is being stretched thin. However, it is not torn. And it is on every one of us to engage our customers to ensure the value of our service is realized and respected. This is a conversation that needs to take place and that has to start now. Get involved and be part of it.
There is a lot to talk about. One thing we have to be careful of is to avoid the discussion descending into a détente of entrenched positions. As adjusters, we can’t simply say: “here is what we’ve decided to offer you.” By the same token, insurance companies cannot dictate an environment of impossibly thin margins, flat rates and shortcuts that would require us to compromise our professional integrity. Such paths are certain dead ends.
If, however, our conversation is built on a collaborative model, I think it will be a very productive dialogue. As independent adjusters, we have to listen to what insurers truly need, how and if those needs have changed and how we can respond to those needs. Insurers need to understand that if they want reliable and ongoing access to a quality service, there are costs associated with this service. That means proper staffing, training, professional development and investment in technology.
In other words, independent adjusting should be looked at as an investment in the long-term, not merely a cost in the short-term.
At CIAA, we take this investment in the future of independent adjusting very seriously. That is one of the reasons we have developed a strategic plan that will guide us through the years ahead. Under the leadership of Patti Kernaghan we are continuing with the National Insurance Industry Advisory Board, which provides an excellent foundation for direct discussions between top insurer officials and CIAA members.
I am honoured to take the baton from CIAA’s previous president, Albert Poon, who played a vital role in developing and guiding our strategic plan. Thanks for all you have given back to our profession, Albert.
For me, I pose a challenge to all individual independent adjusters and members of CIAA to engage their insurance company partners on issues of alignment, respect and mutual interests.
In September 2016, my home province of New Brunswick will host the CIAA’s Annual General Meeting in beautiful St. Andrews By-the-Sea. I encourage all members to plan to attend and be part of the continuing conversation that will lead to the betterment of independent adjusting in Canada and, with that, the betterment of our overall P&C insurance industry.