I discovered the claims profession almost 35 years ago. For at least 15 years prior thereto all I had ever thought of was being an attorney. I saw it as such an honorable profession, and it was my vision of my future. Then, in the mid-70’s and halfway through law school, I realized it wasn’t to be. So much of the law and its administration didn’t sit well with my conscience, so I decided not to finish law school; and with that decision, my future, or at least my vision of it, died.
It was a year later that, with the help of my father, I discovered the world of adjusting…and it was an amazing one. The role of an adjuster, and the opportunity to balance the ability to help those who had been injured or who had suffered great loss, on behalf of an industry that, as a whole, possessed a great moral center, fit nicely with what I have found to be a fairly significant humanitarian or altruistic “core” embedded within my soul. It was a match made in heaven. I have loved the life and role of an adjuster. In this I followed the footsteps of my father, and my daughter has followed us both. Three generations of adjusters…and we all were blessed with a passion for the job.
Unfortunately, as time marches on, it does so with “change” as its only constant. The re-engineering craze of the 1990’s began an evolution of this industry in ways that no one would have ever imagined, and today, I submit, the insurance industry is not the same industry it was in the 1900’s. Nor is the job of an adjuster even remotely similar to that which it was 20 years ago.
Today, the job of adjusting is little more than a process. Adjusters are not really “trained” in the art of adjusting. They are not guided by experienced supervisors who watch their behaviors, review their files, and provide instruction and feedback on their progress in the job. In most companies, the span of control and influence of a supervisor is virtually unmanageable; thus their effectiveness in ensuring good claims practice is minimal. And to what career goals or objectives do today’s adjusters today aspire? The “corporate ladders” of yesteryear are gone. Organizations are flat, so where are they to go? And sadly, from what I have seen and been told, they basically see is as “just a job”.
The independent adjusting industry is slowly fading into oblivion, kept alive only by the occasional catastrophic loss events as carriers do anything they can to avoid or minimize this area of expense…even to the point of contracting directly with contractors or service providers in order to eliminate the need for appraisers or “field” adjusters. Without the support of the carriers, IA firms cannot afford to train their own adjusters, and the industry complains about the lack of knowledge, skill, and performance due to lack of training. And the circle continues to turn.
My life as an adjuster (now consultant and trainer) is slowly reaching its zenith. While I can still “hang with the best” on any given day, and would probably deploy along with others if a really serious CAT were to fall, those days are largely in the past. I should not care about what the future brings for tomorrow’s adjusters, but I do; and I often wonder if anyone else really does.
What IS the future for adjusters? (And I don’t mean the latest report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That report is largely theoretical anyway.) Anyone have any thoughts?