How did you get into the industry?
I was an Insurance Agent from 1983-85. I then worked as a claims adjuster for two different insurance companies from 1985-2001
How long have you been a Public Adjuster?
I became licensed in the late 90s, but didn’t start practicing until 2001.
What made you want to become a Public Adjuster?
The company I was working for underwent a reorganization and the adjusters were given severance packages or were shifted to other claims offices throughout the United States. I didn’t want to leave Massachusetts, so I decided to become a Public Adjuster and try that side of the business.
You’ve been in this business for a while now. How have you seen it change over time?
The industry has changed some, but it’s the language in the policies that have undergone the biggest changes. That is what’s made it more difficult to get paid for damages one would think would be automatically covered.
What emerging trends do you see in the industry?
Insurance companies are leaning more on professional engineers and attorneys to help determine coverage and settle claims rather than training their adjusters to do the same exact thing. The end result is a delay in settlement and increased costs in processing claims, which in turn results in higher premiums for all of us.
Also, the use of, and changes in, technology have had a tremendous effect on the business. The advent of laptops, cell phones, tablets, estimating programs, and tools to determine the extent of damage such as how wet a particular wall may actually be, or what’s inside a wall cavity have changed the way we do business. Currently, there is a push for live video chatting where homeowners walk through their homes with their cellphones or laptops in a video chat with the insurance adjuster who writes an estimate based on what is seen in the video. We are using 3-D virtual tour technology to substantiate damage in homes and businesses [read more about that here]. It is an interesting concept on how to inspect, and ultimately settle, smaller claims more quickly.
What would you like to see happen in the industry?
I would like to see more education given to insurance company adjusters. I believe that they should also be held accountable in Massachusetts by being licensed, tested, and having to stay educated with the changing times. Currently, Massachusetts does not require adjusters to be licensed if they work for an insurance company. Public Adjusters, who work for the general public in Massachusetts, are required to be licensed and must maintain a level of continuing education. I would also like to go back to the days when insurance companies were confident in their training of adjusters and gave them the tools and authority to settle claims.
The process today is bogged down with multi-layered tiers of signature authority to get a claim approved and paid. If insurance companies train their people well, they can eliminate the multiple tiers and get settlements out the door and into the hands of their customers quickly. Adjusters must also be sympathetic toward the multitude of issues that envelope a family when a catastrophe strikes. A house is just a house to the adjuster; to the insured that house is their home. Technology and robotic personalities cannot, and should not, replace empathy.
What value do you think you bring to the adjusting process?
I create a level playing field for my clients. A 125 pound person will not experience balance on a seesaw with a 250 pound person. They will stay up in the air, flailing about, while the heavier person is on the ground, controlling everything. But when you add the weight of a Public Adjuster, that dynamic changes, providing much-needed support to the insured.
What do you like most about adjusting?
I like to see at the end of the day, my client and the insurance company’s client receive what is needed to fix their home or property. The balance brought to the table by hiring your own private adjuster gives a policyholder much-needed peace of mind.