Filed Under:Claims, Education & Training

'Super' Independent Adjusters Pursue Education

Certifications, Learning Offer Competitive Advantage

There are certain immutable commonalities that unite people the world over. One is our reverence and childlike glee for Olympic hopefuls and superheroes alike—long after the flame has been extinguished and Hollywood has exhausted a seemingly endless barrage of sequels predicated on graphic novels.

Part of the universal appeal of these modern-day and fictional “heroes” is their capacity for decisive action and excellence. The commonalities between Olympians and superheroes begin to dissipate when you examine their circumstances, motivations, and results. That is, of course, to say nothing of their dramatic intrinsic differences.

An Educational Arsenal

The demanding job of an IA often does not carry with it the promise of income or benefits. While a profession marred in uncertainty is not for everyone, it does offer avenues for personal and professional development. Both insurance carrier and independent adjusters must contend with emotional stress and volatility, emerging legal exposures, time management, and complex cases that can play out in surprising ways.

“Employers that either require or encourage specialty training or industry certifications will gain confidence in utilizing competent adjusters, who in turn are capable of executing accurate assessments based on hard facts,” explains Ryan Holdhusen, vice president of Haag Education, LLC.

Certifiable Prowess

“Haag has provided specialized training to the insurance industry for the last 20+ years,” he says. “Since rolling our Haag Certified Roof Inspector (HCRI) program in 2007, we have seen a shift in the makeup of our students, from a majority of company adjusters to a majority of independent adjusters.”

Holdhusen believes this shift has occurred because of two reasons: 

"They are finding new client companies and training their adjusters to be equipped with the skills, knowledge, and tools to handle the new job demands and a change in the types of claims that they have primarily handled in the past."

“We have even had a request from a TPA to educate and train its employees to handle specific clients and specific client needs, for example claims more specific to grocery store chains, retail markets, the auto manufacturing industry, and others,” Medina continues. “This recognition by companies and employers of the need to train their adjusters and claims handlers stems from various sources and perspectives. 

Another area of growth, Medina says, is in the mentoring programs that companies are structuring to build a stronger adjuster base, relying on those skills and years of experience from within their company or organization. 

“These mentoring programs have gained a renewed interest,” she says.

It is evident that education and training will remain a top priority for claims professionals, in light of emerging catastrophes, competition and strict standards and regulations imposed on all adjusters.

"Like it or not, we are a credential-oriented society," explains Kevin Quinley, CPCU, AIC, ARM, principal of Quinley Risk Associates, LLC. "A jumble of initials after one’s name does not guarantee competence, but not having them does not inspire confidence, either. It's important to consider continuing education as the independent adjuster’s R&D budget. What can management teams do to weave continuing education into the culture of independent adjusting firms?"

5. Calibrate workloads to make education pursuit realistic. An adjuster struggling with 250 “heavy” files will not have the time, energy, or inclination to take an AIC or CPCU course. Be sure to monitor caseloads. Keep them reasonable. Allow adjusters time off to take classes, courses, to study and to sit for exams. Additionally, encourage the claims staff to take advantage of company programs that support continuing education. Provide reasonable time and reimbursement support for CE pursuits. Periodically remind employees of the benefits and of ways in which the company supports the effort to build their subject matter knowledge. 

6. Make it convenient. Offer CE classes or briefing sessions in-house, on company time. Enlist someone to lead an AIC or SCLA class in a conference room once a week. Be prepared to bring in an outside facilitator if no one in-house can fill the role. Schedule “lunch and learn” brown bag sessions about claims topics. This could entail inviting local defense attorneys, physicians, rehab specialists, fire investigators, and other experts. Provide space and time within your office suite for ongoing claims training and education. 

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