There is an unfair but persistent view that underwriting equals sexy, while claims is the Cinderella side of the insurance industry, filled with desk bound, pen-pushing plodders.

The newly-established Faculty of Claims, which is a joint venture between the CII and Cila, should go some way to restoring much needed professionalism and pride, boost career opportunities and provide a valuable networking arena.The faculty is being led by Jonathan Clark, a claims professional and someone who is passionate about the sector. He's a likely high earner, certainly a high flyer (who regularly travels the world with work) and a qualified adjuster, joining the industry after a career as a chemical engineer.

High standard"It's true that some think we're not as exciting as the underwriting sector," Clark admits. "More often, claims is seen as an expense, paying out huge sums of money. Whatever the criticisms, the truth is we're delivering the insurance promise, no matter how trite that sounds. "This new faculty is all about encouraging and developing the talented people who work in claims and maintaining high standards." Clark is CII treasurer, a past Cila council member and is also a senior vice president with adjusters Crawford & Company. In his role of chairman of the new faculty, he is joined by a board that includes a number of CII and Cila luminaries and senior representatives from the insurance industry. He explains the idea was first mooted shortly after Sandy Scott became the CII's director general in 2000. "In the past couple of years, the idea progressed until we've reached the stage we're at now."Clark admits there is still work to be done - and the press release announcing the new faculty was sketchy to say the least. The board needs to move quickly, however. He says a full launch will take place on 30 June, when all details of the examination structure and other key areas will be announced. The first examinations will be taken in 2005 from a date to be announced."There are still areas we need to agree. The most important is the syllabus and timing. We also need to decide on whether we should have a code of conduct," he comments.With all the excitement surrounding the launch of the new faculty, it could be forgotten that there is already a body in place providing examinations for those working in claims. The existing organisation to promote study is the Society of Claims Technicians (SCT), which was founded in 1999 by Cila.

Claims qualificationIt had its own examinations, leading to the associateship of the society and designatory letters SCT after an individual's name. Those who were below adjuster level, for example, and who had passed the society's examination, could call themselves MSCT - member of the Society of Claims Technicians.The society, says Clark, was launched because there was no qualification for claims handlers. "Before then you either had Cila to become an adjuster of the CII, which would have meant becoming an ACII. These were high level qualifications and too many were left out."The SCT is run from Cila's offices, but the administration will now transfer to the CII. Clark says the SCT will cease to exist over the coming months, but says there will not be job losses as a result. "It makes more sense to have one body and the CII qualification is the most recognised in the industry."The CII has a range of examination options, and relaunched these last September to provide a more modular approach - allowing candidates more flexibility to pick and mix their subjects. These start from the foundation insurance test as the lowest standard, leading on to the certificate, diploma, advanced diploma, leading to associate and fellowship.Clark says the SCT qualification will now migrate to the CII. "It will provide the delivery mechanism and those taking the examinations will be able to use the CII letters after their name, but we are expecting this to have the word claims in brackets as well, to show their specialism."Cila will continue to provide examinations for those seeking to become qualified loss adjusters. "I've been through the 16 exams for this and there is no doubt it takes time and effort, but if you have gained chartered status as the institute has, you expect someone to have been through the mill to achieve membership."

Working togetherClark says there have been some small differences of opinion in the way the faculty will work - but was also keen to downplay any conflict. "As you see from the board, we have key people from both Cila and the CII.It is very much about working in partnership. Together, the CII and Cila will also broaden the range at certificate and diploma levels. Furthermore, Cila has now accepted that Dip CII (Claims) will represent a further entry level to its examinations."No one is saying SCT failed in its aim, which it stated was to promote excellence in claims handling, but the CII does undeniably have more marketing clout in addition to its well established administrative facilities and web-based learning tools. The CII will also be running the faculty's continuing professional development programme and setting up events such as workshops and seminars, as well as producing regular updates and newsletters.Other areas to be decided include just how wide the new faculty should cast its net for membership. There are those who do not work directly in claims for an insurer or broker, but who have a strong interest in the sector. They could be lawyers or those working in the IT sector with claims systems. "We want to be a forum for all, but there may be a slightly different type of membership for some," he says. There will also be provision of special interest groups, such as for those in travel, motor and commercial claims."At last the claims industry is going to have real leadership. We've set ourselves a tough agenda, but I'm confident we're going to achieve it."

The Faculty of Claims board

  • Chairman - Jonathan Clark, Crawford & Co, CII treasurer
  • Bill Paton - Zurich, CII representative
  • David Williams - AXA, president Insurance Institute of Cambridge
  • Andy King - Cila, deputy president
  • Chris Miller - Cila, chairman examinations committee
  • Mike Jones - Cila, chairman education and technical committee
  • Graham Cave - Cila, executive director
  • Steve Wellard - CII, marketing director
  • Topics