Tuesday, March 6, 2012

“Where's my adjuster?!?!” Internalizing Claims for Better Access

[This continues our series examining some of the reasons that clients – risk managers, self-insureds, etc. – bring the claims function in-house. This is not to “bash” TPA’s or insurer claim departments. We are simply recapping various motivations that drive clients to bring the claim function in-house, either totally or partially. In future posts, and in the interest of even-handedness, we will examine the DIS-advantages flowing to these same entities from internalizing the claim function.]

Risk managers often get frustrated in trying to connect with their adjuster handling a file. Phone calls are missed. Phone tag takes the place of genuine communication. Phone tag can even give way to email tag! The adjuster may be on the road, on vacation, at an offsite training session or otherwise inaccessible. With an outside adjusting service (or in dealing with an insurer claim department), all the client can do sometimes is keep on trying and waiting .. and waiting .. and waiting.

With in-house adjusters, however, the client has a greater degree of access to the claim staff when needed. To get an opinion regarding a case, to get a quick update or to make a request, one need only walk down the hall and ask the adjuster. Admittedly, in-house adjusters are not going to be around all of the time. Still, it is one thing if a client needs to get in touch with you, and another thing if your boss needs to talk with you.

To the independent claims adjuster, the client is really the risk manager's entire company. In a sense each operating unit of the company is a client, with its own agenda. A company can benefit when individual managers have direct access to in-house adjusters.

This kind of ready access is less realistic when an outside adjuster is charging by the minute. Cost effective use of outside adjusting services requires that referrals be channeled through one person, rather than having each department make adjusting assignments willy-nilly. Sadly, the lack of direct communication prevents the type of give-and-take dialogue that often resolves problems. Such dialogue is more frequent with in-house adjusters.

Where I live in the Washington DC area, the lobbying industry is big business. Part of what clients get when they hire a lobbyist is “access.” In this context, it is access to the corridors of Congress and the top government decision-makers.

In the realm of risk, clients also seek access. Internalizing the claim function can enhance such access without the need to hire expensive lobbyists!

30 comments:

Chantal Roberts said...

I somewhat disagree. Being an independent myself, I often have to call in-house adjusters, and I can never reach them. I find some in-house adjusters hide behind their voice mail, while I cannot do that-- it'd be business suicide. In fact, we offer the caller our cell phone numbers if the adjusters are not in the office.

As an outside-adjuster, I feel I have to remain reachable for both the insured and the client, the in-house adjuster. I can't hide behind voice mail.

Just my two cents.

Kevin Quinley said...

Good point, Chantal! "Your mileage may vary." I'm simply cataloging reasons why some companies might be tempted to bring the function in-house, not necessarily saying that this assumption is well-founded or that "in house" adjusters have a superior service orientation in practice. As you point out, the reality may be much different from the perception.

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