The insurance industry is facing major changes in leadership and staffing as Baby Boomers continue to retire over the next decade. According to the Claims Journal 2014 Job & Salary survey, claims managers are concerned about the aging workforce given the expectation that nearly half of current claims professionals will retire in the next 15 years.
This presents a challenge within the industry, and creates an immediate need to recruit talent to avoid a troubling gap in the workforce over the next decade. For those reasons it’s imperative that insurance companies focus on solving the recruiting crisis in claims by attracting new talent.
Training & Experience
The insurance industry is a great place to launch a career and starting out as a claims adjuster provides an effective entry point. To educate new graduates, those just entering the workforce, or those new to claims, it is critically important for companies to establish an effective claims training program for new hires. Fostering an interactive learning experience and supporting continuing education programs is vital to sustaining high-quality work amongst all claims professionals, both veterans and those just entering the field.
Claims training facilities can play a pivotal role when it comes to properly preparing claims professionals. These programs allow for individuals to receive hands-on experience, which can involve deliberately causing damage and repairing it. This type of training builds an adjuster’s confidence and product competency, giving them the resources and knowledge needed to execute in the field.
Employing Technology in Claims Training
Technology continues to play an increasingly important role in claims training. According to the Ward Group, the claims department is the third likeliest area to see an increase in staffing behind technology and underwriting. Technology is an integral part of training, whether it be data analytics or geocoding tools in claims preparation or using mobile technology to communicate in the way customers prefer (e.g. text and e-mail vs. phone).
Another need is to train employees on the proper use of technology to assess an area both before and after an event such as a hurricane. This type of analysis helps claims professionals deploy resources in the most critical areas following a catastrophe.
Claims Field Adjusters vs. Home Office Adjusters
While training is essential across the board, it’s also important to explain the similarities and differences when it comes to qualifications for a claims field adjuster compared to a home office adjuster. Overall, quality claims adjusters need to be competent in these areas:
• Strong written and verbal skills
• Effective problem solving skills
• Organization and time management
• Ability to make decisions autonomously
• Strong work ethic
• Dealing with ambiguity
While there are shared traits between field adjusters and home office adjusters, looking at key differences between the two jobs will help employees identify which position best fits their personal skills and aspirations.
Successful claims field adjusters need to be able to work independently, have a strong customer focus and make autonomous decisions in a timely manner. Field adjusters are typically the first ones on the scene after a natural catastrophe and may need to relocate for a period of time.
On the other hand, home office adjusters will typically handle claims that don’t require inspections or they will oversee a vendor doing so. In order to excel in this job, this role requires responsiveness, the ability to gather and record key information regarding a claim, as well as the ability to communicate effectively and make timely decisions all while maintaining a focus on the customer.
Finding the right candidates for a claims adjuster role can be a difficult task as insurers try to identify key attributes in potential hires specific to the claims industry. One strategy for identifying top talent is to start out by asking behavioral-based questions to determine interpersonal skills.
The claims department of an insurance company might not be the first place millennials look to when searching for a job, so it’s important for insurance professionals to change perceptions of the industry to reach younger generations. Professionals who work in the insurance industry have a true passion for helping people in their time of need, and highlighting that aspect of the industry could help make it more attractive for the next generation of workers. For millennials, values, ethics, workplace flexibility and mentoring programs are important when seeking a job, and studies show they want the companies they work for to be responsible corporate citizens.
Social media channels also play a key role in reaching this demographic, through platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook in addition to traditional job posting boards. The Institutes has even developed a new digital program to encourage more millennials to consider a career in insurance through their “MyPath” portal where they partner with insurance companies to recruit worthy candidates. Companies can also leverage public company events and corporate social responsibility campaigns for recruiting purposes.
Recruiting a fresh generation of talented claims professionals needs to be an industry-wide initiative. The insurance industry as a whole is coming to a tipping point when attracting new talent, and even more so for claims. The knowledge and expertise of experienced claims professionals will not be passed on to new hires if the industry does not aggressively recruit and train the next generation. By dedicating the resources to accomplish this, the industry will ultimately better serve its customers.
Dave McNutt is senior vice president of Claims Operations for American Modern, overseeing a team of more than 400 professionals. He joined the company in 1989 and has over 27 years of experience in property and casualty insurance.
Kate Reed is head of Human Resources for American Modern. She is a leader of human resources, facilities and internal communications functions. Reed began her career with the company in 2001 as an attorney.
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