May 20, 2016 by Fred Plant, President, Canadian Independent Adjusters' Association
Ours is a venerable profession and you should be proud of the important work you do, every day, delivering the product of the Property & Casualty Insurance Industry in Canada.
As a profession we have a responsibility to determine and address the needs of our customers so we can develop the skills necessary to meet those needs. We’ve done that in the past; however the game has now changed. The most significant aspect of that change has been the closing of the training room which was the regular supply of full-handle field assignments for independent adjusters. We were a part of the overall claims headline strategy for Insurers who saw the big picture. Now, however, the focus seems to have narrowed considerably.
I have had a number of conversations with independent adjusters and insurer claims representatives in Canada, the United States and England over the last six months regarding the future of independent loss adjusting service in those jurisdictions and, generally, worldwide. On this subject I recently, quite inadvertently, put a Canadian claims manager on the spot. That was not my intent, as I was only continuing to explore the issue and gain as many perspectives as possible in order to formulate a plan for the direction we must take in Canada to preserve and focus our efforts as an Association.
My inquiry was genuine, but I came to realize the answer was not one that could come from him alone. It is not just one insurer taking this in a certain direction; rather all Insurers have a hand in where this is going. So, with apologies to him, I am putting the issue out here with the hope it will garner some responses from insurers.
We live in a vast and diverse country. Many insurers write business in multiple jurisdictions. Every insurer in Canada engages the services of independent adjusters to some extent. Some quite a bit, though not as much as before; others not so much. However they all call on independent adjusters at some point, with more calls coming after-hours than ever before, followed by another call next business day to take the file back inside.
With the current trend of insurer consolidation and internalizing claims handling and siloing claim-handling elements (a statement here, an inquiry there, then close your file), how will the supply of independent field adjusters be maintained so there is no point in time when an Insurer needs the service of an independent adjuster only to find there are none available? That may sound dramatic, but in a country like Canada where insurance is sold all over, so too will claims service-delivered in good faith-be necessary all over.
When an adjuster handles a file from start to finish, that adjuster learns along the way. However, when the assignment is just to take a statement and then have nothing more to do with the file, how is the adjuster to know of the pitfalls that may lie on the road to settlement of that claim, pitfalls that may well have been addressed in that statement had he or she been aware of the potential?
There is no place to go and get schooled in this sort of thing other than in the field. No matter how many manuals you want to write, experience is the best teacher. So to bring it together, what are Canada’s property and casualty insurers doing today to secure the necessary supply of experienced and available independent loss adjusting services tomorrow? Or is meeting the cost-cutting demands of today the only focus, with someone else left to deal with the consequences down the road?
I am hopeful some insurers will provide their comments on this subject. It is a condition that affects us all and hopefully one to which we will all contribute to find the best outcome for our industry.
Members of CIAA from across Canada will be meeting at the CIAA National Convention to be held in beautiful Saint Andrews, New Brunswick September 22-25, 2016. I encourage you to attend and participate in shaping of the future of your profession.