Defections and high-level poachings of loss adjusting talent mean insurers will spend more on negotiating claims. It's very worrying, says Andy Cook

The landscape of commercial claims is shifting. And insurers will need to be on their toes to keep their payouts under control.

The past few months have seen a number of high profile defections from leading loss adjusters. That's obviously worrying for insurers that have relationships with the loss adjusters. But what's more worrying is that the talent is being poached by firms offering services for insureds. These range from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) to Jardine Lloyd Thompson.

Insurance companies and their loss adjusters will find themselves, increasingly, sitting opposite their former colleagues when negotiating claims. The result is that insurers will spend more on negotiating claims and could even end up paying out more in claims than before. Worrying.

A further blurring of the boundaries between loss adjusters and assessors is that traditional loss adjusters are also looking at moving up the food chain to handle insureds' claims. GAB Robins has made no secret of its plans to target the FTSE-250 companies with the intention of handling their claims direct.

If that was not confusing enough, PWC and the other management accountants are handling insurance company claims. And now seem to be standing on the toes of loss adjusters when it comes to handling insurers' large commercial claims - especially for business interruption.

The shift has been recognised by the Chartered Institute of Loss Adjusters (Cila) which has, at last, recognised the status of loss assessors. So what's an insurance company to do? Ploughing the traditional furrow is not an option.