When it comes to salaries, it's frequently how some determine their success or lack thereof. But as the annual Claims Salary Survey shows, there is more to being happy or successful than just a paycheck.

The survey provides a thumbnail sketch of what's going on in the industry — who's happy, who isn't, what benefits companies provide, how many hours most claims employees are working and what do they see for the future of the industry. Satisfaction often depends on one's perspective — kind of a glass half full view versus a glass half empty.

A majority of respondents (26% and 30% respectively) worked for either small companies (two-to-nine employees) or large companies (over 100 employees). Fifty-nine percent of the companies had annual sales under $5 million, 8% had sales over $50 million and 22% of respondents didn't know their annual sales.

Who responded?

With 25% of industry professionals preparing for retirement in the next two-to-three years, Claims wanted to know how many years survey respondents had until retirement. Their responses mirrored what the industry is seeing — approximately 15% of the respondents said they were retiring within the next five years, including 10% who were retiring this year alone. Several respondents said they'd either already retired but were still working as consultants and others didn't really plan to retire altogether.

Not all perks are created equal

Full-time employment usually means working more than 40 hours a week — somewhere between 45-50 hours in most cases, but it isn't unusual for some adjusters to work up to 70 hours.

Some companies allow up to five hours of overtime a week, but the majority of companies did not allow or pay for additional hours worked over 40. The good news is that the number of hours claims professionals are working seems to have remained pretty stable — probably in large part because of a quieter catastrophe season. Here's how their hours have changed over the past year:

When it comes to benefits and perks, staff adjusters were more likely to have life insurance, medical insurance, dental insurance, supplemental life insurance and a pension plan than those working independently.

Air travel expense reimbursement, tools such as cellphones, laptop computers and home internet access were provided to the same degree by both insurers and independent adjusting firms.

Slightly more staff adjusters (98%) work full-time compared with independent adjusters (90%), but this gives the independents more flexibility to work part-time (almost 11%). Fifty-five percent of the respondents said their companies allowed telecommuting and 45% said their companies still did not allow this option, although they wished their companies did.

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