Insurance loss adjusting: graduate area of work
Most graduate loss adjusters work for specialist loss adjusting companies or insurance brokers that offer loss adjusting services. Loss adjusters are called in by insurers (insurance companies and big corporations that undertake their own insurance up to a certain amount) to verify claims.
They examine the damage and determine the value of the claim, confirm whether there is sufficient cover in the insurance agreement and advise members of the public and claimants about their rights – although employed by the insurers, their code of ethics means that they have to act impartially. They also advise insurers and claimants about issues to do with repairs and other next steps.
Mike Odell, formerly head of training and development at specialist loss adjuster and claims management company GAB Robins, talked to TARGETjobs about this little known career.
Why do insurers employ loss adjusters?
Insurers tend to bring in external loss adjusters in the following situations: when claims are over a certain value (say, a few thousand); when there has been minimal contact between the insurer and the claimant (eg if insurance has been purchased online); if there has been a large volume of claims at once (eg in the aftermath of a natural disaster); or if it’s a particularly complex claim.
GAB Robins does a lot of work on property buildings insurance, so the claims it examines often require building construction knowledge. Loss adjusters are the eyes and ears of the insurance company and so part of the work includes identifying any concerns and, if appropriate, reporting the claim to fraud specialists (who may work at the insurers or at the loss adjusting company) to investigate.
What’s the salary of a graduate loss adjuster?
Earnings vary from firm to firm. Graduates might start out on a salary between £18,000 and £22,000, but this can rise fairly rapidly as they gain experience: one recruitment agency puts the average salary of an experienced loss adjuster at between £30,000 and £40,000. Salaries can increase as you go into management. Bonuses for successful claims handling are not uncommon either.
What skills and degree backgrounds do graduate loss adjusters need?
Graduates can enter loss adjusting careers with many degree backgrounds, although some employers have a preference for certain backgrounds. For example, GAB Robins particularly welcomes applicants from law- and construction-related backgrounds (especially building surveying).
Successful loss adjusters need:
- Calmness under pressure and good people skills: emotions often run high when liaising with claimants, especially in the aftermath of natural disasters or accidents
- An eye for detail and an enquiring mind
- To be analytical, decisive and a good negotiator
- Time management and the ability to prioritise
- To be comfortable working independently
There are very few specialist internships in loss adjusting available so you shouldn’t be expected to have direct experience, but any insurance-related work experience you’ve done will stand you in good stead.
Customer service work is favourably looked on, too, especially if you’ve dealt with challenging situations and customers. If the employer you're applying to deals with the construction industry, building/construction work experience will be valuable.
What is the career path of a loss adjuster?
Experienced loss adjusters typically spend a lot of time out on the road, receiving instructions and details of claims to investigate, and visiting sites and claimants.
Graduates, however, initially spend their time in-house, brushing up technical skills and knowledge of insurance, taking professional qualifications with the Chartered Instititute of Loss Adjusters and providing support to the more experienced loss adjusters.
The claims worked on by on-the-road loss adjusters increase in value and complexity with experience, but the loss adjuster’s career path is diverse.
Professionals could choose an in-house management role or to focus in a specialist area such as (if they have a law degree) liability – determining whether there is a legal responsibility in the aftermath of a claim.
What are the best and most frustrating aspects of this role? Would I enjoy it?
One of the appeals of loss adjuster careers is the variety: you are never sure what will happen when you visit a claimant. Another is the problem-solving aspect of the role, working out exactly what has happened and why; if you like solving puzzles, you will like this role.
However, loss adjusters are out in all weathers and the hours can be long, especially if you specialise in construction claims. There is a lot to learn in this role – and many systems, details and processes, to keep on top of – so it would suit those who are detail-oriented and enjoy continual learning.
What’s the difference between loss adjusters and loss assessors?
Loss adjusters and loss assessors do similar roles, but loss assessors’ clients are the claimants rather than the insurers. Claimants – typically large businesses – might hire loss assessing companies to investigate the claim on their behalf and, if necessary, dispute the loss adjuster’s findings. Things can get quite combative! It is fairly easy to move between loss adjusting and loss assessing roles.
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TARGETjobs would like to thank Mike Odell, head of training and development at GAB Robins, for his help with this article.
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