Michelle Edwards gives an insight into her life as a trainee loss adjuster

Much has been written in the media about the lack of young people both entering the loss adjusting profession and studying for the professional qualifications required to become a chartered loss adjuster.

Twenty-four-year old Michelle Edwards is doing just that. Six months into her employment as a trainee loss adjuster with Ashworth Mairs Group, Michelle has documented a working week, illustrating why she believes loss adjusting is an exhilarating and rewarding career choice.

Michelle explains: "I had previously worked in a liability claims department which meant I was regularly dealing with loss adjusters.

"It seemed to me that my experience of any given claim was always second hand and from behind my desk. The loss adjusters meanwhile were out there, seeing the situation first hand and meeting the people involved. I wanted the opportunity to make a difference in that way."

As a trainee adjuster Michelle has certainly come out from behind her desk, as seen in the following diary extracts from her working week.

AM - Attended the weekly office team meeting to catch up on the developments of the previous week and to discuss and plan the week ahead.

Cleared outstanding paperwork, returned calls and amended my claims reports following quality check and feedback from the regional manager.

PM - Attended a specialist investigation unit claim with the regional anti-fraud co-ordinator. Really interesting experience which gave me an insight into the language and approach required to obtain the relevant information from the policyholder.

It also showed me the importance of attention to detail and the need to think beyond what you are being told.

Shadowing session has encouraged me to think laterally.

AM- Three appointments in Peterborough and Wisbech: escape of water (EOW), theft and fire. A mixture of perils, calling on me to draw upon all of my training and experience to date. Each situation required a different approach.

At the EOW claim, laminate flooring had been damaged and the policyholder's buildings insurers had declined the claim. Having inspected the damage, I instructed the office to check on the latest IOB ruling to determine whether the laminate flooring fell under buildings or contents cover.

It was important for me to gain validation of the contents at the theft claim. Drew on knowledge gained from in-house training course to build up a full picture of the items stolen. Experience of recent fraud claim came in useful to assist with extracting the required information from the policyholder who was not very forthcoming.

At the fire claim, I assessed smoke damage caused by a small fire involving a gas hob. While on the road, I took a number of calls from policyholders on my 'hands free'.

Policyholders have high expectations and can be very demanding. As part of my training I am learning how to manage those expectations and respond appropriately.

PM - Two further appointments: rats in Royston and storm damage in Hitchin.

Rats were entering the property in Royston via a hole in the drainage system. I was required to review the drainage report to verify the claims. Thankfully saw no rats.

In Hitchin, high winds had caused damage to a roof and I obtained a weather report for the area to verify storm conditions had been present. Covered 100 miles today and met five people but no rats.

Evening - Dictated reports and correspondence for files of appointments visited that day.

AM - Weekly case surgery. Ran through outstanding cases with regional manager.

I enjoy these coaching sessions where I receive advice on the best course of action to settle a claim, ensuring the best possible outcome for all involved.

Each case is reviewed in turn and any technical queries I have are addressed. This is a great source of training and guidance as it is case specific.

Another thank you letter received among the post, making it 10 this month. Thank you letters are one of the highlights of my job and prove that all my hard work is paying off.

PM- Urgent fire claim received. All three trainee loss adjusters in the office are available and keen to attend to build on skills.

A quick review of workloads dictates who gets to shadow on this occasion. I remain office based and handle a number of taxing calls from policyholders. This is definitely the hardest part of the job.

Evening - Worked late to clear my desk, responding to correspondence, progressing cases, acting upon case surgery advice.

AM - Attended appointment with senior adjuster of specialist adjusting unit to review the building schedule submitted for repairs to a building which had suffered extensive fire damage.

Good opportunity to gain some experience in comparing a schedule of works drawn up by a contractor with the work required. Appointment also involved a meeting with a loss assessor and I saw the practical application of negotiating skills in a case specific environment - great source of insight.

PM - Two appointments: EOW claims and my meetings with these domestic policyholders seem a breeze compared to the complexities of the meeting this morning.

Evening - Dictated reports and correspondence from the day's cases. Completed an assignment as part of ACII coursework, working towards the completion of the fifth component of the Advanced Diploma.

AM - Call from regional manager. Exam results from the AMG trainee adjuster intensive training course have arrived. I passed with a B grade.

The course which is CII accredited comprised tutorials, coursework and an exam and took place in-house, over a three-week period.

A great starting block for my loss adjusting career, while the mentoring and coaching I receive from my seniors at the office has really helped with the practical application of my learning.

The shadowing opportunities are the best and I really feel as though I'm rapidly gaining skills and confidence. Really looking forward to starting my next in-house course on report writing.

Two appointments in east London and the surrounding area, vastly different to yesterday when my appointments were in rural Essex.

EOW claim involved damage to a ceiling which required specialist testing of the artex finish for possible asbestos contamination. Second appointment was a theft of jewellery claim where the unfortunate policyholder was clearly distressed.

PM -Two further appointments in east London: EOW and malicious damage. Nothing of major note at EOW, but needed to make sure we got things moving fast at the malicious damage claim. Offensive graffiti to the outside of the policyholder's property was causing upset and the policyholder was understandably keen to get it removed.

Michelle summarises: "As you can see from my diary, no two days are ever the same. Loss adjusting is a really dynamic career. It's hard work, but hugely rewarding and I love the feeling that I am making a difference.

I'm incredibly lucky that AMG invests heavily in staff training and development and the 'can do' environment is very inspiring.

I'm supported and encouraged every step of the way. I have no doubts I've made the right career choice and regularly recommend the profession to my friends and peers."

' Michelle Edwards is with Ashworth Mairs Group