March 31, 2013 by Craig Harris
After lengthy working stints as an adjuster at both the insurance company and adjusting firm level, Dara Banga decided to start his own operation in a very competitive marketplace. When asked why, his response is clear and direct.
“I have an entrepreneurial background,” says Banga, who opened DSB Claims Solutions in January 2012. “The timing was right for me to branch out on my own and to pursue my passion and dream.”
He has combined his skill sets as a property and transportation loss adjuster with a perceived need for a truly service-oriented approach to customer satisfaction in property and casualty insurance claims. The result is a boutique firm based in Brampton, offering independent adjusting services across a geographic territory that spans a sizeable chunk of Ontario – from Niagara Falls in the south to Bracebridge in the north and from London/Goderich in the west to Peterborough/Cobourg in the east.
“I had a vision for the firm,” Banga says. “There was a need in the market for a specialty boutique firm that focuses on quality adjusting and customer service.”
While working for large national firms offered a crucial opportunity to gain experience and knowledge, Banga says the day-to-day grind of volume adjusting took a toll.
“I found that claims adjusting for a national firm was all about quantity, at least that was the situation for me,” he notes. “I was the top producer for my previous firm, I was always very busy, I was working 6-7 days a week and doing a lot of after hour claims – it affected my family life. It can be a very demanding and intense job at times. So I felt that it was time that I use my entrepreneurial drive that I always had and start my own firm.”
Banga says property and transportation loss adjusting is his specialty, with his firm concentrating on property and transportation claims no matter the size or complexity. “At my previous employer, a majority of what I did was property and transportation claims. I consider myself a specialist, covering any kind of property or transportation losses.”
A critical part of that specialization is continuing education. With a FCIP, Banga also has a Certified Fire and Explosion Investigator (CFEI) certification from the National Association of Fire Investigators (NAFI). In addition, he is Exactimate trained and he has completed several technician programs through the Institute of Inspection Cleaning & Restoration Certification (IICRC), including fire, smoke, water, applied microbial and applied structural drying.
“For a specialty firm, continuing education is key,” he notes. “Professional development has to be an ongoing commitment and investment in you to become a better adjuster. For me it’s simple – the more education, the more qualified and experienced you are.”
“We are also a very innovative firm,” Banga adds. “We utilize the latest in claims management software and tools. Our claims management system allows our business partners to view their claims in real time. Insurers are also able to upload claims assignments and documents via our website.”
Customer service, however, is where Banga really wants to stand out from the crowd. He notes that DSB Claims Solutions has a couple of features that distinguish it from other adjusting firms.
“I do several things differently,” he explains. “First, I offer a customer satisfaction guarantee. There is no other adjusting firm in Canada that offers the same guarantee or anything close to it. That is, if you are not fully satisfied with my services, I am not going to charge you my fees. I believe we need to be more accountable as independent adjusters, given the changing and competitive marketplace.”
While to date Banga has not had to waive any fees, he says that the satisfaction promise is a lot more than window dressing. “At DSB we don’t just talk the talk, we walk it. I stand behind the guarantee and it’s on our website and marketing materials,” he observes. “It is there because we want and value long-term relationships and partnerships with our business partners.”
Another point of differentiation for DSB Claims Solutions is a brief but informative claimant satisfaction survey done after every covered loss. The poll asks eight questions about communication, courtesy, efficiency and level of service, which is then sent to the insurance company at the end of the claims process.
“We use this as feedback and a benchmark for our performance because we are constantly trying to improve what we do,” says Banga. “We know we can’t please everyone every single time, but we try our best. No other adjusting firm that I know of offers this survey. We stand behind our services, and we want the insurer and the broker to know we have done an excellent job representing them.”
The final question in the claimant satisfaction survey is telling: Based on the handling of the claim, would you renew your insurance policy with your insurance company or broker? “That is a very important question in terms of customer satisfaction and retention,” he notes. ”As an independent adjuster, I know that insurance satisfaction levels are closely tied to the quality of claims experiences. Every touch point for us represents an opportunity to earn a customer for life for our business partners and we need to be mindful of this. That is why we work to build close relationships and partnerships with insurers and brokers.”
Yet another distinguishing characteristic that DSB Claims Solutions recently introduced is a flat fee for mileage and travel anywhere in its service area. “We want to make it easier for our business partners to do business with DSB Claims Solutions and our goal is to be their only adjusting firm,” Banga says. “These travel rates are unheard of in the industry, because as you know, most trips require much more travel time than what we are now charging. I know it is a wide area, but we love claims.”
That is a good thing, given that DSB Claims Solutions’ staffing level is lean and mean – with Banga as the principal adjuster and two administrative assistants. He says he will be bringing on more staff as the business continues to grow. “I am very selective; I have high standards for myself. I have to find the right adjusters that fit with my vision and brand.”
In fact, Banga has some very specific ideas about the key traits that independent adjusters must possess to succeed in a pressure-filled environment. “You have to be able to manage your time well, be dedicated to the job in terms of time commitment and you must love what you do. If you get a call at 3 a.m., you need to assist the insurer and service the policyholder. That means you have to focus on customer service to policyholders and insurers. As adjusters, we have to walk the line between both.”
These unique, even rarified, characteristics of adjusters pose a big-picture challenge for the independent adjusting profession – recruitment and training. Banga says one of the central concerns for loss adjusting in general is the dearth of newcomers to the industry.
“There is a clearly changing demographic in the industry, where baby boomers are retiring and not a lot of newcomers and younger people are entering the profession,” he observes. “This represents a very real skills gap we are facing. As a profession, we need to invest in young people through education, job experience and mentoring.”
Getting more involved with associations as a volunteer and spokesperson is something that Banga says he relishes in the months and years ahead.
”I constantly tell people that it is a great industry to be part of,” he notes. “In the future, I plan to be more i
nvolved in the industry going forward through the OIAA and the CIAA. I want to give back to the industry that I am passionate about, and these associations are really the voice of the independent adjuster, provincially as well as nationally.”
The role of ambassador for the adjusting profession is in many ways a natural fit for someone who clearly loves the work.
“I am passionate about adjusting,” Banga concludes. ”I love what I do and I am driven by helping policy holders turn a negative event into a positive experience.”