The scars may be healing but for the insurance industry, the work goes on. Three loss adjusters share their personal experiences of Ground Zero.

David Pigot, Cunningham Lindsey International executive director
I was based in New York on 11 September and was at work on the disaster site next day. I'm now back working for the Cunningham Lindsey International office in London. I'm still involved in ongoing claims and am responsible for a team bringing these to a conclusion.

Now that the initial shock has worn off, we are reaching the stage where insurers are looking very closely at policies. It is likely the Silverstein case will be a landmark - is it one incident or two? I expect there will be ongoing litigation.

There were a huge variety of claims from those where the damage was relatively minor to companies that were virtually wiped out. Some companies lost everything and trying to piece together what those offices contained is extremely difficult.

Within the towers were large, successful operations, which had everything from the latest technology to valuable works of art. The claims per floor at the WTC could average in the region of $30m (£19m).

I think if companies are to learn from 11 September, they should really understand what type of cover they have and study wordings in depth. Many businesses were underinsured, others found they did not even know what they were covered for and regretted not having bought more, or different, cover.

Looking forward, New York has come to terms with the tragedy, but it will be many years before the area is rebuilt. I was impressed at the spectacular speed with which the rubble was cleared and the way in which public services dealt with the aftermath.

A lasting memory is the way New York's notoriously brusque inhabitants underwent a personality change following the attack.

New Yorkers are always in a hurry. They tend to barge their way to the front of a lift queue. But after the attack people were suddenly polite, friendly and caring. However, matters returned to normal a couple months later.

Adjusters are often thrown in at the deep end and sent on a plane at short notice to anywhere in the world. In 1995 I travelled to the Virgin Islands where we were working on claims linked to Hurricane Marilyn. We had to deal with conditions where there was no power, no access to phones and people had little or no food. It was frightening.

But even though in this profession, tragedies are a part of the job, 11 September will remain etched in my mind.

Bev Fitzgerald, Fitzgerald Consulting managing director
I recently set up a consultancy business, after many years with large firms, and in April was called to work on a number of claims linked to 11 September.

The first thing that hits you when you reach the disaster site is the huge empty space stuck in the middle of Manhattan.

Then you become aware of the intense patriotism. There are stars and stripes everywhere, from small ones down the street to massive ones hanging down in the atriums of adjoining buildings.

People told me how it had drawn the country together, probably for the first time since Vietnam, and there was also great rapport between the insurance professionals.

Most recently when I visited, I noticed how commercial it had become. There are vendors along the walkway to the site, selling T-shirts and scarves... only in America.

I was working on a number of claims, including several where the amount claimed was in the region of $1bn (£640m). But I also dealt with some at the smaller end where only thousands of dollars have been paid.

There were plenty of homes nearby and they suffered the consequences of vast quantities of dust and other damage.

There were thousands of these claims and people were paid with speed and efficiency. In all cases I've dealt with I've been enormously impressed by the way insurers have shown a willingness to settle amicably.

If companies are to learn from this, I think it will be of the importance of business interruption insurance. If the total amount lost is in the region of $50bn (£32bn), then it's estimated around $11bn (£7bn) is in loss of profits - it's crucial that firms insure for high levels.

For adjusters, working out what could have been earned and deciding a settlement sum it is highly complex.

Some companies felt the property risks would be the number one concern in the event of a disaster, but this is not always the case. It is certainly something underwriters will be studying for the future.

Grover L Davis, Crawford & Company president and chief executive

When I initially saw Ground Zero, I couldn't verbalise the devastation I witnessed. For more than 60 years, Crawford has responded to enormous losses, but never have we seen such major loss of life.

My first glimpse of the damage was on television, where most Americans watched the drama unfold. I thought I had prepared myself for the damage, but it was much more devastating than I had imagined. I saw the Pentagon while visiting our Washington office and had no idea of the extent of devastation there. When I first saw the New York skyline, there was an obvious void. Even after weeks of speaking with adjusters and investigators on the scene, I did not fully realise the enormity of the horrific loss until I arrived at the scene and saw first hand the devastation.

The 11 September tragedy caused massive damage and Crawford did a range of work from personal lines losses that involved appraising and assessing damages to residences, automobiles, unscheduled personal property and tenant dwellings to multi-million dollar commercial losses involving extensive structural damage as well as business interruption losses.

When we first heard of the attack, we were initially concerned for the welfare of our employees in the affected areas. Within an hour of the attack we had accounted for each employee and could turn our attention to helping others that needed our assistance.

We began assembling resources - the cooperation between all parties was unprecedented.

When it came to adjusting work, there was prompt contact and a thorough understanding of the situation the policyholders find themselves in. The 11 September attacks reminded all of us how important it is to empathise with our clients and claimants.

All parties involved showed exceptionally high standards and were more empathic and understanding than prior to this tragedy. And although access to damaged areas was restricted, we made contact with claimants as quickly as possible so that we could begin to rebuild their lives.

Crawford has always been involved in helping people prepare for catastrophes and disasters. Now, more than ever, we have had a surge in requests for our risk management services and have re-examined our own disaster preparedness programme.