Liz Zukowski, head of human resources at loss adjuster Property & Casualty Services reports on its survey into the benefits packages available to applicants in the changing loss adjusting market....

The world of loss adjusting has changed quite considerably over the past few years, reflecting the evolving needs of an insurance industry which has been subject to a great deal of consolidation. Merger and acquisition activity has resulted in fewer, larger loss adjusting companies.

At the same time, we have seen the launch of a number of niche players, the outsourcing of technical and specialist resources, the influx of specialists from non-insurance backgrounds such as the law, security and health and safety.

To succeed today, the contemporary adjuster needs to be more qualified than ever before as well as being proficient in the use of IT. Lap tops, digital cameras and email are a must and the office is rarely visited.

Today's adjuster holds at least one relevant professional qualification, often two, and will also be strong in traditional areas, particularly the ability to maintain a good personal rapport with the insurer, the broker and the insured.

Employees' aspirations
These are some of the findings that have come out of research that we at PCS have undertaken into the aspirations of employees in the loss adjusting industry. PCS was established in 1997 to counter the insurance industry's concerns over the levels of service and expertise on offer.

Clearly, recruitment of quality staff was and is a priority. As a young company we have attracted over eight hundred job applications over a two and a half year period and have undertaken a detailed study of these.

We took a close look at employee benefits and conducted a comparison of benefits packages on offer in the loss adjusting market. These indicated that applicants should shop around, as major adjusters seem to adopt differing stances.

For example, salary reviews ranged from no formal process to an "industry norm" of 3%, to as high as 6-7% per year. Bonuses ranged from discretionary and non-transparent to a fixed percentage of up to 12% and a figure guaranteed but dependent on fee income generated. Pensions, though not always non-contributory, and PMI/PHI were also on offer, as was death in service cover up to four times the worker's salary.

Fully expensed cars and free petrol were available from some employers, which is not surprising as adjusters clock up 22,000 miles on average each year. Another issue applicants should consider is the way expenses are handled. As these can be quite considerable, it is worth looking at an employer that issues staff with a company credit card, rather than reimbursing expenses in arrears. Other perks that an applicant should consider asking for are employee sharesave schemes and personal accident cover.

Criteria examined included source of applicants; current job title; location and employer; and professional qualifications. It was interesting to note that:

  • Applicants ranged from aspiring trainees in their 20s to middle aged company directors approaching retirement
  • Applicants were based throughout the country, from the South West of England to the North East of Scotland, almost half (49%) of applicants came via recruitment agencies.
  • 28% replied to job adverts in the insurance press.
  • 5% of applicants were introduced by existing employees.

    In terms of professional qualifications:

  • 8% were FCII qualified
  • 52% were ACII qualified
  • 12% were FCILA qualified
  • 14% were ACILA qualified
  • 37% held other qualifications including professional legal, engineering, surveying, accounting, geophysical, marketing and healthcare.
  • A third (34%) held two or more professional qualifications.

    In conclusion, it should be noted that loss adjusting companies keen to recruit from an increasingly well qualified workforce need to have a clear reward and personal development strategy and be aware that employee benefits packages need to be competitive. Aspiring and experienced loss adjusters need to be aware that employers look for both traditional attributes and an ability to embrace modern technology.

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