Claims Adjuster: Who Will Handle The Claim?

Insurance claims are not fun. For an insurance claim to occur, something bad happens. A car accident, a tornado, a house fire. These are just a few instances that trigger an insurance claim and working with a claims adjuster. Needless to say, not what anyone considers “fun”.

As the insured, you want the simplest insurance experience possible. We venture to guess these are some of the expectations:

  • Knowledgeable insurance agent
  • Proper protection of your assets
  • Competitive pricing
  • Properly handled claims paid fairly and timely

Below, we discuss the type of claims adjusters insurance companies use today, and the type of questions you should ask your current or prospective insurance agent.

Overall, insurance companies want to handle insurance claims as efficiently and cost effectively as possible. Certainly, this does not mean they want to shortchange its customers by paying less for damages. They truly want to pay for the claim’s loss. However, the longer it takes to handle a claim, the more it costs the insurance company in fixed costs (employee wages, expenses, etc).

Next, we discuss some of the type of adjusters:

Company Employed Inside Desk Adjuster

These adjusters are W-2 employees of the insurance company and work from an office each day. They are mostly used in non-injury auto claims. In addition, inside adjusters are utilized on minor home damage claims, business claims, and small liability claims.

For example, a fender bender requires repair by a body shop.

  1. You call the claim in to your insurance agency or company.
  2. An inside claims adjuster is assigned to the claim.
  3. The claims adjuster contacts you for discussion about the accident. Next, he or she advises you to take the vehicle to a body shop of your choice.
  4. The claims adjuster asks the body shop for “Mitchell” damage estimate and photos of the damaged vehicle.
  5. The body shop completes the estimate and submits it to the claims adjuster.
  6. The claims adjuster approves the damage estimate and sends payment directly to the body shop.
  7. Finally, the vehicle is fixed and picked up.

Company Employed Outside/Field Claims Adjuster*

These claims adjusters get their boots on the ground. That is to say, these adjusters will be on location to assess the damage in person. Consequently, you can have a face to face discussion with your insurance company’s representative. This is invaluable in our opinion. It also expedites claim handling. Also, the overall satisfaction of claim handling improves. As the consumer, you can (and should) specifically ask if these types of adjusters are used by the insurance company you are considering!

[*NOTE: These claim adjusters are our agency’s preferred method of handling claims.]

Independent Claims Adjuster

Finally, these claims adjusters are hired as a vendor or subcontractor to insurance companies. They could be inside adjusters or outside (field) adjusters. They are typically knowledgeable and certified with basic training to become an adjuster. Independent or non-company employed adjusters are used because:

  • Influx of claims causing a shortage of claims adjusters within the company.
  • Process of the insurance company.
  • Temporary workforce shortage within the insurance company.

Complaints about Independent Claims Adjuster

You may wonder why we are even discussing claims adjusters. The reason: non-carrier employed claims adjusters result in complaints!

Next, we highlight the main complaints:

  • Duplicated Work: Independent adjusters complete a “write-up” of the claim. Then, the insurance company’s inside claim representative receives it for further handling. Duplication of work creates a delay in handling claims. As a result, we’ve seen cases delay payment by three to four weeks due to this.
  • No Payment Authority: Most independent adjusters have no permission to issue payment to the insured. We prefer our customers work directly with the person who is paying for the loss. Typically, this is not an independent claims adjuster. Delays in claim processing results in delayed payment.
  • Impersonal: Adjusters come from out of state. Consequently, they don’t really know the insured or the insurance company. We agree! We are a local insurance agency and expect our insurance companies will use an adjuster from our general geographic area. The use of out of state adjusters causes unnecessary anxiety related to the claim process.

Our Agency’s Stance on Claims Adjuster

At Hitchings Insurance Agency, we only utilize insurance companies who use their own company employed claims adjusters. Our insurance companies utilize employed inside and outside claims adjusters for many of the handled claims.  In the past, we had carrier relationships that have utilized the independent claims adjusters exclusively. This resulted in more claim complaints among our customers. Consequently, we have terminated those relationships.

Larger insurance companies seem to use the independent claims adjusters more than the regional carriers or the smaller, mutual insurance carriers (policy holder owned carriers).  We do not have anything against any particular carrier or claims adjusters. We simply want to educate you on what questions to ask your existing or prospective insurance agent. More importantly, we want you to have the best insurance experience possible, including the handling of claims.

Finally, make sure to ask the right questions of your insurance agent. These types of things do matter for your insurance experience! Learn more about what it means to work with an independent insurance agency by clicking the image below.