No one disputes the fact that the business of insurance has changed dramatically in the last five years. Technology, new perils like the Ebola virus and an increase in fraud make the insurance profession even more challenging today. Claims magazine asked our subscribers about their job satisfaction, the number of hours they work in an average week, the benefits they receive and a host of other questions. A total of 368 people responded from firms with average sales ranging from under $100,000 to over $50 million. The firms employed anywhere from one person to over 100 people. Here’s a quick breakdown of the firms represented:
Of the respondents, 75% were male and 25% were female, and they responded to some or all of the questions. Here’s what we learned.
Our respondents could select from insurer claims staff, independent adjuster/claim manager, appraiser or special investigator. A majority of the respondents (76.4%) said they were insurer claims staff, which included positions ranging from field adjusters to senior managers and executives of a firm. Independent adjusters and claims managers took the No. 2 position at 21.12% . Justover 1% of the respondents identified themselves as either special investigators or appraisers. Ninety-seven percent work full-time and 2.6% work part-time.
More than half of the respondents said that the number of hours they work has stayed about the same over the last year, but here’s how the numbers broke down:
Salary & Benefits
This question included total compensation, plus commissions and bonuses. The salaries ranged from $33,000 to $1.2 million for full-time employment, but who makes what really depends on the position the individual holds in the company. A large number of salaries fell in the $90,000 to $125,000 range. Sixty percent of the respondents said their income has not decreased due to limited/partial claim assignments compared to handling full-coverage loss assignments. Just over 26% said they had seen a decrease and 13.2% said they weren’t sure if their income had dropped. Respondents were compensated primarily in one of three ways: gross fee schedule, time and expense fee schedule or the least likely, a daily rate.
Multiple professionals felt that they were fairly compensated for the hours worked, recognizing that while the workloads had increased, this could mean additional compensation for individuals working in the right place.
Overtime was not permitted by the companies employing the majority of the respondents, so salaries were based on full-time employment (40 hours or more a week). However, salaried employees making over $85,000 a year frequently worked more than 40 hours a week--often clocking an average of 50 to 60 hours. The largest number of respondents worked an average of 55 hours a week.
When it comes to benefits, the majority of companies are still providing life insurance, health and dental insurance--either as a full benefit or at the very least as a supplemental option. Other perks included pension plans or 401Ks, profit-sharing or some sort of stock purchase option, deferred compensation and travel reimbursement.
A variety of work tools certainly make it possible for employees and independent agents to work more efficiently from the office, home or the field. The largest number of companies provided workers with at least a laptop computer (65.9 percent), cell phones (58.5%), a home phone and/or Internet access (21.1%) and a GPS or some sort of navigation system (16.3%). A smaller percentage of companies provided an iPad or some other sort of tablet computer. Here’s how the benefits stacked up:
Eye on the Future
Despite the challenges claims professionals face today, they are optimistic about what the future holds both for them and the industry they have chosen. While 63% said they would recommend this profession to other people in 2012, the number jumped to 71% in 2014. The number of people who rated the outlook for the future of the adjusting profession as positive, remained the same – 58.4% see the outlook as positive.
One independent adjuster (IA) rated the future of the profession negatively because he says IAs are viewed as villains instead of professionals who can further assist in moving the profession forward. He believes that IAs are shown little respect and are not treated like the professionals they are.
A respondent who saw the future possibilities believes that “this is a great profession and for the right person will be a great career.” Others echoed similar responses, saying the industry provides room to grow, that it is fascinating and demanding work, and that technology will only improve how they do their jobs and the level of service that can be provided in the future. They acknowledge that it is hard to attract talented individuals to this field, but this just means more and better opportunities for all.
Whatever the future holds for insurance professionals, it is not a career for the complacent. Constantly changing technology; new challenges from data breaches, strong storms around the globe and the possibility of a new pandemic; as well as increasingly creative fraudsters; major product recalls and other liability issues make this business more important than ever.
A special thank you to all of the individuals who participated in this year’s survey. Your responses provided an important look at an industry that impacts millions of lives every day. Look for the full article detailing the survey results in the November 2014 issue of Claims magazine.