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Last Post 04/25/2011 12:11 PM by  okclarryd
You want it WHEN???
 1 Replies
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04/24/2011 12:41 AM

    Have we come so far in our quest for 'good customer service' that we have actually harmed those we are supposed to be helping?   The question has come up again, "Is the 30 day settlement requirement helping or hurting?"  

    We all know that providing excellent customer service is the ultimate goal in the adjusting business.  And those of us who strive for that excellence face a yearly struggle against the ever-changing requirements of our business model, government & industry regulation and demands of the share-holders of the carriers.

    We have seen it ten thousand times before.  A decent "storm year" comes along, with large disaster events and the carriers are desparately searching for 'warm bodies' to get out there and see their claimants within a 30 day window of time.  You know, enough people to make some contacts and maybe a first inspection, just to appease the requirements.  Then, there is the rush to settle and close within 30 days.   

    With all of the new "Contact" and "Settlement" requirements placed on carriers by different states, have the 'powers that be' really helped or harmed the insured clients? 

    In order for a carrier to meet the 30 day settlement requirement, enough adjusters must be on the ground to see all the claims in a timely fashion, and be able to inspect/write/settle them in the window of time given. 

    This may or may not be beneficial to the insured customer.  WHY???  A few reasons to ponder:

    a) In a large event, there really is not a large enough pool of experienced adjusters to meet the needs of all the carriers wanting their services.

    b) I.A. firms go on 'cattle call' recruiting drives, herding every Tom, Dick and Harry with a tape measure and calling them ADJUSTERS.    The quality of work product cannot be that good, given the general lack of experience in such a group of 'newbies'.

    c) The amount of re-work required on the back end is an inconvenience to the insured customer, a costly endeavour for the carrier, and often also for the I.A. firm because they promised the carrier "adjusters", and got trainees instead.

    Those experienced adjusters who actually DO get deployed will be given a far smaller volume of claims to handle, thus reducing their income potential, AND/OR forcing the experienced adjuster to rush through the claims in order to get more files.   Again, re-work on the back end will cost every party dearly.

    In our quest for "McDonald's drive-thru" speed in handling claims, it may be more and more difficult to provide "Ruth's Chris" quality service.  

    In the long run, the industry may well be causing customer service and satisfaction in the industry to decline. 

    Just a few thoughts to ponder as we approach a much busier year than the last few...


    Veteran Member
    Veteran Member

    04/25/2011 12:11 PM

    Customer service??

    Back in the day, in the '90's and subsequent years, I was expected to contact 40 to 50 insureds within 24 hours, set appointments and put out any fires that I discovered on contact.  Then, I was expected to keep my appointment, meet with the insureds, discuss the loss, scope the loss, write an estimate, discuss the estimate with the insureds, and then whip out my pad of checks and write a check to close the claim..  And all this happened on First Contact.

    This was called "face to face settlement". 

    This was the way claims were handled and I have closed a couple of thousand this way.  I had to know the answers.  No matter what the question, I needed to know the answer.  On the few occasions that I didn't know, I had a source to call and got the answer at that time.  No call backs, no smoke and mirrors, no BS.

    That was then and this is now. 

    Due to the serious lack of qualified and knowledgeable adjusters, this way of claims handling was discontinued.  Now, inside adjusters are using satellite photos, roofer estimates, contractor estimates, estimate review firms, email, digital photos, no measurements and in many occasions, no on-site inspections to settle claims.  And every aspect of the claim is being glossed over in the grand scheme of claims settlement.

    Customer service?  A friendly face on the property?  An adjuster that can and is allowed to adjust?  I don't think so.  Customer service costs too much.  It takes too much time.  It cuts down on the number of claims that can be closed quickly.

    Society, of which we are a part, has demanded these changes.  We all suffer from a "cell phone" mentality.  Not too long ago, if you called someone and they weren't home, you called later,  If they had a answering machine, you left a message.  And moved on.   Now, if the call isn't answered by the third ring or so, we get all in a dither and think we're being ignored and get all sweaty about not having the time to call again.  This is just as much our fault as anyone's.  By "our" and "we", I mean the insurance industry as a whole.

    There's a few out there that still believe in "customer service" but not many.  It cuts down on productivity which means less money at the end of the day.  Yes, the economy is in the toilet but that's a pretty thin excuse, in my opinion. 

    If there was a quick and easy answer to this, my little feeble mind would have found it.  But, there isn't.  There is going to have to be a change in society to go back to where customer service was at the top of the list.  Perhaps society has moved on and doesn't demand it as it has in the past.  Perhaps we're all content to live in the "fast lane" and tolerate lessened requirements as far as requiring competence, knowledge, factual answers, and smiling faces.  Perhaps we're all becoming more tolerant of less expertise from those that should know what they're doing, whether it's an adjuster, mechanic, plumber or whatever.

    I, for one, still believe in the insured having the right and expectation to meet the one that is controlling their money on a claim.  I have worked inside or office claims and have noticed the insured's disappointment when I told them that I was not coming out but would be their adjuster, over the phone. 

    You and I have the choice of changing with the times or becoming a "dinosaur".  Fee schedules are certainly not going up, file requirements are still changing daily, insureds are still entitled to a fair and equitable settlement in a timely manner, and the methods of accomplishing all this is really in a state of flux, which means "change", I think.  I would think that to be successful in today's climate, one should be adept in today's requirements and methods.  Lots of computer and phone skills, lots of typing speed, knowing "spell-check", and all the office manners that one can develop.

    Happy trails


    Larry D Hardin
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