Loss adjusters operate in an increasingly complex and sophisticated marketplace

I read with interest IT’s piece in the 6 March issue, “Just who are you calling a loss adjuster?”.

I am glad our industry has been placed under the spotlight. As many of the contributors pointed out, this is an increasingly complex and sophisticated marketplace, and if we are to survive as a profession we must be able to demonstrate to insurers that we are keeping pace with their developments and fundamentally adding value to their propositions.

It is also very encouraging to see the diverse and innovative ways in which our profession is meeting the needs of its clients. However, one perspective which was touched on in the article, and perhaps requires greater explanation, is the role which niche loss adjusters will play in the market over the coming years.

Now, cards on the table, it will be obvious to anyone reading this posting that I operate in this end of the market, so it’s equally obvious that I would endorse it. However, I wouldn’t have traded a top job elsewhere unless I felt the fundamental business logic was sound. After 35 years in this industry, I can safely say that I believe the future lies in niche.

As an industry, we have to tailor the solution for each problem. The fact is, processing a massive volume of domestic claims (for instance, in the wake of the floods last summer) is a very different discipline to dealing with a complex commercial claim. In domestic claims, a great deal of the challenge lies in physically servicing the initial demand after an incident, and managing the masses of information generated thereafter. In a commercial claim, the problems aren’t greater or lesser – just different. All sorts of technical and relationship points relating to the industry within which the client operates come into play. Sometimes, only a bespoke response will do.

To continue on the theme of analogies from the aforementioned article (always, in my experience, a risky business when it comes to the profession of loss adjusting) it might perhaps be more apt to consider the parallels between ourselves and the likes of Debenhams, rather than Tesco.

Debenhams has a multitude of boutique concessionaires for the discerning customer to choose from. Whether you choose to buy your Burberry raincoat from Burberry at Debenhams, or from the exclusive Burberry shop two blocks down, the point is that you decided to buy in the Burberry niche.

In the final analysis it is the quality of the product and the service which makes the customer happy and come back for more. The assumption that quality has to equate to size and that best has to be biggest are not necessarily appropriate. My sense is that the customer base is moving back to the future and away from the 1990s concept of the one-stop-shop.

Purchasers are not so much asking what should a loss adjuster look like rather, who can best do the kind of loss adjusting I need? Clearly, for now at least, there is more than one answer to that question and thankfully the customers will continue to have the choice they deserve.

It is interesting to note, however, that purchasers are increasingly demanding niche specialism in one form or another, whether it is delivered through a specific department of the composite or the smaller niche specialist. Quality and value are what's really important.