Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Insider's Guide to Claims Adjusting for Outsiders

Patience is a virtue.

Look. We get it. You just had an accident. Your upset, frustrated and maybe a little hacked off. You want your car fixed, your medical bills paid and you don't want hassles.

Calling your adjuster's phone line once (or more) every minute, for several minutes is NOT going to help matters.

Your typical claims adjuster is trying to work upwards of 150 claims at any given time. Though, one adjuster I spoke with at a major personal auto carrier said their average pending was up around 260 active claims. Of that number, a typical adjuster is getting anywhere from 5 to 10 new claims a week. More if there has been a severe storm of any variety recently because people apparently lose the ability to drive when faced with a small glob of spit on the road much less a massive thunderstorm.

If an adjuster is particularly good at time management, works efficiently, types VERY fast, etc....they might get to work, really work, 20 existing files a day. Working a file means being able to put quality thought, analysis and documentation which takes a minimum of 15 minutes per file per touch. When you parse that out to a typical workload over a business day/week/month, it means that, at best and on average, a good adjuster is going to be able to touch your claim once every 7 business days.

New claims take up a lot more time because of contact requirements, recorded statements, assigning appraisals, etc. New claims take away from the time an adjuster has to devote to existing files. A new claim can take anywhere from a half hour to an hour to get off to a good start if an adjuster is lucky enough to get a hold of everyone on the first call, doesn't get interrupted, etc.

That doesn't count working incoming mail, email, voicemail messages, making payments, presenting claims at round tables, being out of the office for business/vacation/illness, etc. which all takes time.

Being out of the office is a nightmare at best for an adjuster when the time off/out is planned. It usually takes about a week to recover from being out of the office for 1 planned day. Unplanned days off are worse. It's like throwing a bomb at your diary screwing up every bit of carefully planned out and prioritized work.

We do not get some perverse joy out of making you wait. We want your file closed as much as you do. Probably more so so we don't have to deal with your cranky, impatient butt anymore. Contrary to popular belief, we do not get bonuses for keeping files open or denying claims or settling claims for less than they are worth. We get measured on how efficiently and timely we handle claims, if we make initial contacts within a certain time frame defined by the claims standards, whether we make payments timely, etc.

That's not to say we're not human. When we get a difficult claimant who yells at us, calls us incessantly and just generally acts like a spoiled child mid tantrum, we don't feel an overwhelming desire to bend over backwards for them.

And, yes, we have caller ID. We recognize certain phone numbers especially when we see them pop up every minute when we are in the middle of trying to help someone else. It's irritating as all get out. Knock it off. Call, leave a detailed message, and wait.

We will call you back as soon as we can.


  1. You mean I don't have my own personal claims adjuster at my beck and call? Harrumph! What kind of shoddy business model is this?

    1. GunDiva, nope. No personal claims adjuster for you. As to the business model's shoddiness, I have my opinions. My experience has been that companies will err on the side of being slightly understaffed as opposed to being overstaffed. The one company I know of that was just on the slightly overstaffed side, even their adjusters complained about being overworked with a pending of only 75 claims. According to the permanent hire that took over the desk I just got done cleaning up, I do phenomenal work with just 75 claims. It's the first time I've ever been complimented by someone that took over one of my desks. Go figure.


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