COVID-19 restrictions led adjusters to shift claims work to desktop teams. The change was driven by client reluctance to meet in-person and employees’ desire to reduce site work until the risks were better understood.
But those changes can make some straightforward claims harder to clear. And a wave of pandemic-spurred retirements has left the adjusting community with fewer experienced workers.
“The transition to desktop claims has created more of a need to work within client systems and utilize various programs,” said Michael Galea, senior vice president of operations at Sedgwick. “Additionally, the increased claims have brought about delays with contractors and preferred shops.”
That’s led to clients giving adjusters more authority to handle claims at the desk, he added. Plus, more reliance has been placed on contractors for estimates and to ensure a claim is settled.
Field operations will never go away, but Galea suggested they’ll become more specialized as resources for desk adjusters increase.
“Task assignments will be more prevalent,” he said. “There may also be a need in NatCat scenarios as they continue to increase in propensity.
“There will be more integration of AI and other technologies to aid the adjusters and complete the claim quicker. [But] there will always need to be a human touch as we are dealing with clients who have been displaced in one form or another.”
Retirements among older workers have been a drain on the P&C industry. For adjusters, Galea said, it’s created a need to incentivize older employees to stay with their firms and mentor junior adjusters. In some cases, he added, that’s meant re-hiring retired adjusters.
“We are working to have a more seamless transition of adjusters and better plan out retirements while working with our adjusters,” he told CU. “Additionally, we have been successful in bringing back retirees to help with complex claims and to train staff.”
Those efforts are important to ensure adjusting firms don’t lose skills related to managing complex commercial claims, such as transportation and cargo.
Meanwhile, bringing on new staff to work on claims has resulted in some cost increases, as well as other changes.
“We are also seeing more experienced adjusters preferring more stability, with new families and wanting a desk role, which we have been more than able to accommodate,” Galea said.
Going forward, it’s likely more NatCat adjustments will be handled by desk teams.
“That will transition well to the changing model,” he said. “Additionally, we are seeing younger NatCat adjuster interest, which helps for the field component.”
Galea noted his firm’s global footprint puts it in a good position to pull in adjusters from other countries when handing a major NatCat.
To develop the incoming generation of adjusters, the firm’s training department is working to update its program.
“Historically, training has been focused on specialty and client-specific needs,” he said. The company is now “bringing in newer staff and, while they are completing their CIP, more focus is spent on helping understand the claims process and efficiencies.”
Feature image courtesy of iStock.com/BartCo