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sherkk

USA
10 Posts

Posted - 12/04/2003 :  16:41:44  Show Profile
Anyone have thoughts about the use of electronic claim filing and outsourcing, sometimes to data transcribers in other countries. Is this the wave of the future.
I spoke with an oldie but goodie not long ago that said Independent Adjusters will soon be a thing of the past.
Some carriers are allowing insureds to submit photo's of damaged property directly to their claims portal.
Can we take this wave of the future and make it work for us as IA's or will we be toast?

CCarr

Canada
1200 Posts

Posted - 12/04/2003 :  17:08:10  Show Profile
It is all part of the dry toast, coming our way, Sherkk. The insured's photos through a carrier's claim portal, is just new technology allowing for a greater use of this practice that has been around for a long time.

What you mention, plus more and larger claims call centers, plus "desk top solutions" from Blue Book and the like; simply continue to consume a bigger piece of the claims pie.

My suggestion on the issue, as part of a survival strategy, is to specialize in a niche piece of the claims pie, that hasn't yet seen any significant erosion to technology driven solutions.

Edited by - CCarr on 12/04/2003 17:09:25
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KileAnderson

USA
875 Posts

Posted - 12/04/2003 :  18:34:52  Show Profile
I don't see how a company expects their insured to climb up on the roof and evaluate their own shingles for hail damage. I don't think a transcriber in Bopal can decide if a roof is hail damaged or if it has repairable wind damage or if it's totaled.
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Gale

USA
231 Posts

Posted - 12/04/2003 :  19:52:25  Show Profile
I am with Kile on this one. This will mainly help the Telephone Adjusters that can make up 20% or more of the carrier's adjusting staff today. On the other hand it could be like the fact that most mechanics have been replaced with technolgy :) Guys if you can't adjust (do not know how and not willing to learn) you are toast otherwise you will eat and then some if you market yourself correctly.
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okclarryd

USA
106 Posts

Posted - 12/05/2003 :  07:37:23  Show Profile
Ya just gotta be flexible.

I have contacted several IA companies regarding working "Fast track" claims from my home via the internet. It's just another door that may or may not open.

If I can go to Kallamazoo or wherever and make an average of $700 per day and pay all my expenses, or.........stay home and work "Fast track" claims out of my house and average $500 per day, the ol' calculator doesn't get much of a workout. And I get to see ol' Whatsername every day and get to play with my grandchildren when they're in the mood.

It just doesn't get any better.

LARRY D HARDIN
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trader

USA
236 Posts

Posted - 12/05/2003 :  09:39:33  Show Profile
9 years ago I trained my wife to be "a certified fence adjuster" (in the state of California) With the carriers permission she requested the homeowner look at the downed sections of board fence panels and to give her a count, she worked up the figs and settled the loss, made us $50.00 per fence and closed 15-20 per day. I had to get out and work thick butt wood shingles roof loss,s for $125.00 a house. Wish the Santa Anna Winds would start. Now is the time.
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CCarr

Canada
1200 Posts

Posted - 12/05/2003 :  13:31:53  Show Profile
Look at the math Ray, but I'm sure you have many times; it just doesn't make sense in several ways - relative to your efforts and relative to a carrier's costs - pound per pound of activity involved.

Within the theme of the thread topic, and bringing that also within the confines of a claims call center, 17 fence claims that your wife may do one day for $850 - would cover the costs for a carrier to have 3 claims reps for a day in a call center, and if they only did 12 of those fence claims each per day, the carrier is ahead by a wide margin.

This is not just math, this is fact; the Chicago suburbs are alive with this kind of activity.
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JimF

USA
1014 Posts

Posted - 12/05/2003 :  14:05:59  Show Profile
As the cleanup adjuster for a vendor for Hurricane Isabel in Norfolk (which is ongoing), I had the privilege of also reinspecting some losses which were first "adjusted" by telephone by carrier call center staff, some of which 'reopened' as might be expected.

Just to share a couple of field experiences:

Staff telephone adjuster advises insured that there is a limit of $500.00 for tree removal and sends along a check to the insured in that amount plus a few additional damages less deductible. On reinspection 24 trees are found across the risk roof with tree removal costs alone at $8,500.00. Damage totals move from initial $3,500.00 payment to insured based on phone center adjustment to $17,500.00 based on field adjustment.

Staff telephone adjuster tries to settle claim for damages to risk from several large trees impacting roof with significant interior damage. Staff adjuster sends indemnity check to the insured in the amount of $3,000.00 after deductible. Insured was furious obviously. Reinspection shows damages of $48,000.00 including ALE for 2 months while risk is unlivable and being repaired.

Telephone call centers and telephone adjusting has it's place in the claims process, but it also has it's limits and shortcomings as well.

Having had the opportunity to speak with several of these telephone adjusters, it was not surprising to learn that many of were them handling telephone adjustments with no prior insurance experience and had only been working a few days or a few weeks. Clearly many had no clue as to what they were doing.

There are others here who have handled clean up who could surely share similar stories.

Here's hoping your prayers are answered Ray, and you're right, Santa Ana storms are among some of the most profitable out there with the right vendor and carrier.

Edited by - JimF on 12/05/2003 15:01:10
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KileAnderson

USA
875 Posts

Posted - 12/05/2003 :  15:13:41  Show Profile
Jim, you examples are very eye opening, and they are just to one extreme. At least, when discovered, your examples can be rectified. I have seen the opposite extreme as well, where a small loss was way over paid. The problem is when you discover that the phone adjuster has commited coverage and paid 10 times what a claim is worth there is little if any chance of the insurance company getting that money back.
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trader

USA
236 Posts

Posted - 12/05/2003 :  16:41:51  Show Profile
I still belive I can settle fence claims in California, as 95% are the 6x7 foot panels that cost about $30.00 per panel $50.00 tops and you are paying 12.00 LF. Apply the co-terminus law, take 1/2 the Ded. and you have a settled claim. I belive I can handle the claim from any city in the US. Overpayment, thats were the experience factor kicks in. I belive less than 10% will go up/down by eye balling and measuring the fence. Same for hot water on the vinyl floor, a dozen shingles on the ridge row. Wet carpet in two rooms . Broken sliding door from a burglar. Hit & run auto destoyed a bush, Eggs on the side of the house, frame-painted, brick-veener. Work for a carrier for 20 years and you will learn how to cut out the IA,s. Just remember, they only call you when they need you. How about the preferred contractor program. Works good until the contractor gets greedy, therefore the coming and going list is allways changing, just like the vendors list.
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Gale

USA
231 Posts

Posted - 12/05/2003 :  23:37:36  Show Profile
Trader maybe the more things change the more they stay the same :)
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sherkk

USA
10 Posts

Posted - 12/06/2003 :  13:55:27  Show Profile
I think this is a very common practice among many of the larger carriers. It may not influence our scoping roofs YET. Technology is moving fast though.
I received an entertaining email with an open letter containing a worst case scenario, presented as satire about this very subject. I am not the author so I won't post it here, but if any of you are interested I will email it to you. Or perhaps the author would like to post it?
I have experience with many of the larger carriers and it is common practice for them to settle property content claims, such as computers with the policyholder over the phone. For example a homeowners computer is damaged by a power surge from a covered peril (depending on policy of course). The claim is settled by the policyholder providing written proof that the computer is damaged beyond repair. They will even provide the homeowner with a prepaid mailer to send the damaged surge protector in, if it meets their superior rated brands of surge protectors, to subrogate the claimants deductible. This is all done by phone and mail.
I also do claims processing in the off season for various companies and this is becoming commonplace in P&C, Health, Life, Workmens Comp., as well as industrial carriers.
I'm not trying to discourage anyone from our profession simply pointing out the need as IA's to keep reinventing ourselves, as some of you have already suggested.

Edited by - sherkk on 12/06/2003 14:09:07
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scottwmsb

USA
29 Posts

Posted - 12/14/2003 :  09:39:42  Show Profile
As a represtative for a software vendor who provides technology to the insurance industry I have been asked this more than once. Technology has come a long way but I think the responses on this thread are very true. Until you get to the point where a structure can electronically tell you what part of it is damaged there will always be a need for a trained professional to make an on-site inspection of damage. The issue I believe is that damage is never 'standard' and until structures can 'self-diagnose' themselves there will always be a need for the trained eye. If you ask me if there are structures that can electronically 'self-diagnose" themselves I will respond by saying not that I am aware of. THAT would be something to see!!
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CCarr

Canada
1200 Posts

Posted - 12/14/2003 :  10:38:56  Show Profile
Scott, your mention of the "self diagnosis" reminded me of the "invention" of the telephone adjuster in the early 70's, in my part of the bush.

I had only had the privilege of "ownership" of the company Chevy for a bit over a year, after doing (repeatedly) every conceivable type of claims clerical and claims gopher job known to mankind, and reading and reading and following around another staff road adjuster for the previous year.

One day a department meeting was called, great news we were told, more staff was going to be hired to take some of the load off the road jockeys. Junior staff, we were told, would be hired that would only do claims from "inside". As well, we road adjusters were told to never again deal on the phone with any claim we were assigned, and that the boss only wanted to see us in the office Monday and Friday mornings. A whole new world suddenly evolved, some road adjusters had to learn to "road adjust", others had to suddenly learn how to manage their own time in the field; but best of all, we no longer got claims that a few phone calls would / could take care of.

In the ensuing months and years, 71/72 onward, we saw the "inside unit" develop, using recorded statements, learning how to ask the right questions to try and determine the cause, to try and determine the correct amount of damage, and using manuals to try and determine the correct value of the damage. There was, and still is today, files that are improperly assigned to an inside unit because of what is noted on an FNOL, or inside claims that don't resolve properly and get reassigned to the road.

I heard the term "self diagnosis" years ago, as the boss tried to educate the inside unit on how to ask the insured about damage to their homes. Each inside adjuster had a large schematic diagram of a house "skeleton" taped to the wall of their cubicle, and it was funny to listen to the "conversations" sometimes as the process evolved.

Like any job, be it a road adjuster or an inside adjuster, some get to be good at it for a variety of reasons, others are okay, and some just exist; you can apply that to any profession or trade.

Today, there are so many tools and technological aids for the "self diagnosis" process, and carriers have fine tuned the process from the agent and the FNOL to the inside adjuster and the preferred contractor programs.

Today, of the carriers I communicate with, clearly over 50% of the property claims volume (units) are dealt with by inside adjusting units, and auto is much higher; with the goal to increase the property inside volume as much as possible, with better "desk top solutions".
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johnpostava

USA
35 Posts

Posted - 12/15/2003 :  09:45:34  Show Profile
Our company successfully markets a product designed for inside/telephone adjusters. With the use of digital photography and other web-based tools, the new generation of inside adjusters can be much more productive and accurate when handling small losses. They just don't use telephones and fax machines anymore. For example, if one picture doesn't show the damage the computer savvy homeowner can easily take another for the adjuster. Estimates are sent PDF to the policyholder and payments are transferred directly to the homeowners savings account.

This technology increases customer satisfaction and improves claims department productivity. If a small percentage of these inside claims overpay the homeowner some small amount, cariers are more inclined to have the money go to the customer rather than the adjuster (service bills can reach $400.00 for a $1,000.00 claim.

Will this cut into cat adjusters pockets? Probably, but only in specific areas. Inside claims technologies and tools will probably never be able to handle big claims. Large cat events generate so many claims cat adjusters will always be needed (even if they are employed as inside adjusters at a daily rate). In the short term, roofs will always have to be looked at (until satellite imagery gets a little better and companies build libraries of roof diagrams from previous losses and underwriting field inspections).

In the end, the strong will still survive and find ways to be sucessful. Good cat adjusters will never go the way of the buggy whip (and I would bet there is still a succuessful buggy whip manufacturer out there somewhere!).

Just my two cents....
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Ghostbuster

476 Posts

Posted - 12/15/2003 :  16:59:22  Show Profile
And those, Ladies & Gentlemen, are the kind words of the toaster Manufacturer that has so clearly expounded on why we are naught but scorched breadcrumbs to be swept aside and gnawed by the ants and roaches when the dining room light switches off. (Yeah! Let's screw the independent out of that overpriced fee bill!!! Pay the loss plus 10% so no phone calls come in and then raise the premiums by 15% next year! Haw! Haw! Haw! What a racket!!!)

Thank you, Mr Postava for those kind words of encouragement, especially from those that would aspire to seek ethically professional satisfaction in this line of employment. We appreciate your candor.
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