The acquisition of McLarens Toplis by the outsourcing specialist Capita marks the start of a new era in loss adjusting that has been on the horizon for some time.

Mergers and acquisitions have come thick and fast in the past three years, as loss adjusters responded in kind to the consolidation of the insurance sector. Bigger insurers needed bigger loss adjusters. But this evolution was more than structural.

The big players in the sector have also spread their wings to provide across-the-board claims handling, rather than just the expertise for big ticket business. Today's big loss adjuster comes equipped with a call-centre operation and is at home handling the high-volume small claims that it once considered beneath it. Indeed, this volume business is now the firm's bread and butter.

Capita's acquisition of the UK business of Mclarens Toplis is no surprise. The company announced it was targeting the insurance sector in its results this year, and it has the funds to acquire any of the big players.

But its size – a FTSE 100 company whose turnover is probably bigger than the loss adjusting sector put together – and its focus on outsourcing brings a new dimension to the sector.