Claims has been a very “old-school” and traditional sector of the insurance industry, and for the longest time was very slow to change from the standpoints of technology, process, and diversity, said Lorri Frederick, president of independent adjusting firm ClaimsPro. But that’s changing.
“The good news is that over the last number of years there has been significant movement in all categories, with more women leaders emerging on the claims side of the business,” Frederick told Canadian Underwriter.
When Frederick started in the industry, it was “very male-dominated, both on the company side and even more so in claims. For some reason, we saw more women being promoted on the underwriting side of the business than in claims.”
Frederick’s own journey into claims began more than 30 years ago, when she saw ad an in the local paper for a claims adjuster position with an insurer. “Quite honestly, I wasn’t exactly sure what that entailed,” Frederick said. After researching the job at the library (there was no widespread internet at the time), she was prepared.
“I had the answers down pat when I went for the interview,” Frederick said. “An insurance adjuster is required to: a) investigate, b) negotiate and c) settle insurance claims. “I gave my answers with confidence and started as a telephone adjuster a few short weeks later.”
Presenting yourself with confidence is important whether or not you are female, Frederick said. “Know what you want to achieve for yourself and always keep striving towards that end goal.”
Over time, Frederick worked her way up to a road adjuster; then she became an independent adjuster. “I applied for every job that was of interest to me throughout the years, whether in claims, human resources, or marketing.”
Although Frederick is thankful for the strides that have already been made in improving diversity in the P&C workplace, there is still room for improvement in the industry, claims included.
“We know that diversity drives improvement in financial performance and innovation,” Frederick said. “These ongoing changes and recognition of diversity will allow us to overcome any remaining barriers.”
The claims side of the industry is really about people working together to solve problems and assist others in a time of need, Frederick pointed out. Women have much to bring to fulfilling that part of the role. “Looking at this from all aspects with the inclusion of women in the C-suite makes perfect sense from a perspective of resolving problems, managing multiple projects, and helping others.”
Frederick believes the industry should continue to focus on recruitment and retention, along with effective leadership and balancing the C-suite with diversity. The financial services industry also needs to be prepared to bring young people into the business, she said, and understand that it is their right to question things and demand a supportive work environment.
“Support for this change starts at the top and we are seeing — myself included — corporate leadership that recognizes the effectiveness of female leadership and is incorporating diversity into their overall policies,” Frederick said.