The reality of an aging claim-handling workforce, combined with recent storm history is forcing insurers, independent adjusting firms and the companies who service property claims to take a serious look at their game plan for retaining existing talent and utilizing technology to bridge the experience gap to service claims in the years to come.
A large percentage of independent adjusters start their careers by working on hurricane related claims. It might surprise you, but the country is experiencing a historic, nine-year lucky streak when it comes to major hurricanes. As NPR recently covered, the last Category 3 or stronger storm to hit the U.S. happened on Oct. 24, 2005, when Hurricane Wilma made landfall in Florida. (It’s worth noting that despite this respite, the U.S. has still seen very costly hurricanes — such as Ike and Sandy — that didn’t meet the “major” threshold.)
This means that over the last decade the lack of major hurricanes has led to an unusually high turnover in the adjusting workforce. Many adjusters trying to break into the profession haven’t had the opportunity because of the lack of a major storm. Similarly, many adjusters count on Hurricanes to provide a windfall of cash that justifies the rigors and instability of the profession. Several years without major hurricanes, has forced many adjusters to turn to professions that generate more stable and predictable incomes.
According to a recent PC 360 article, for years analysts have been forecasting a significant loss of insurance industry talent and now that loss will occur in the immediate future. According to a study by McKinsey and Co., 25% of the professionals in the insurance industry will retire by 2018, leaving an enormous talent and experience gap in an industry that is already experiencing a worker shortage.
The Harvard Business Review has identified the four best practices for accommodating an aging workforce:
- Flexible, half-retirement
- Prioritizing older-worker skills in hiring and promotions
- Creating new positions or adapting old ones
- Changing workplace ergonomics
Adjuster Dave’s Take:
I didn’t go to Harvard but I do know a thing or two about the adjusting profession and the overall trends I’ve observed by interacting with claims organizations on a daily basis.
The “aging adjuster workforce” is a real thing. It’s fair to assume that the aging adjusting workforce is going to reach a point where they no longer want to travel for catastrophe claims or simply don’t feel comfortable climbing roofs. In today’s cost-conscious world, it’s also a fair assumption that new field adjusters are going to receive less training than their predecessors and thus less familiarity or proficiency with scoping, estimating and coverage application.
With that being said, unless organizations find new positions that will accommodate their aging workforce, a large amount of skill and experience is going to leave the adjusting profession within the next few years. Similarly, organizations need to have realistic expectations about the capabilities of their new adjusters.
So what’s the best solution?
The best solution to addressing the aging adjuster workforce is to embrace the experience of the senior adjusters and the youth of the new adjusters. Advancements in technology are making it easier for someone in the field (new adjuster) to conduct a thorough inspection and for someone else remotely (senior adjuster) to train, manage, estimate, apply or deny coverage and settle claims. By making a clear distinction between “field” and “desk” tasks, organizations can improve adjuster retention, accommodate business objectives and still provide the policyholder with a positive claims experience. Is your organization ready to adapt?
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