September 28, 2022

Archives for September 2022

Book Review: Redesigning the Claim Experience for a Customer-Centric Focus

Successful Adjuster’s Playbook: The Secret Skills for Providing the Best Claims Experience by John Bachman, Stanley Crew Publishing LLC on behalf of IA Path LLC, 2021.

I recently read a book I bought during the Winter, Successful Adjuster’s Playbook: The Secret Skills for Providing the Best Claims Experience by John Bachman. Bachman has a claims background and serves as an agent and marketing leader at Norwood Insurance in Groveland, Massachusetts.

In February, I was at my YMCA, swimming laps, listening on Aftershox waterproof headphones to a podcast interview with John Bachman, who mentioned his recent book, which intrigued me. (My shelf of on-deck books-to-be-read rivals the Tower of Pisa). But this summer, I read Bachman’s book and enthusiastically recommend it. I cannot do justice to all its content. Let me highlight notable themes from this slim (143 pp.) but substantive volume.

Are Claimants “Customers”? 

Bachman maintains that adjusters should treat third-party claimants as customers. As a testifying claim expert, I resisted this, but I understand his point. From a legal standpoint, he’s not suggesting that insurers owe third-party claimants the same duties they would owe a first-party policyholder. He endorses adjusters viewing third-party claimants — not in a reflexively adversarial context but treating them as if they were customers, even if that may be a hard sell. We associate customers with people who have bought our services or are in a contractual relationship with us.

A third-party claimant does not fall into that category. However, every third-party claimant is a potential customer, which I will return to shortly.

Bachman candidly recognizes the benefits and stresses of a life and career in claims. Burnout is an inherent occupational risk. “Claims in and of themselves are extremely stressful and emotional. People file claims because something bad just happened in their life.”

That is an understatement! For that reason, Bachman endorses adjuster self-care and stress management: mindset, relaxation, proactivity, reliable diary system, block scheduling diet, sleep, and so on. Not enough attention focuses on adjuster wellness, the foundation for doing a good job.

Claims as a Profit Center: Legit or Bad Faith Recipe?

Another theme is recognizing that the Claim Department can be a profit center for an insurance company. This idea surfaces in many bad faith claims where I serve as a testifying expert. A school of thought persists within the bad faith bar that it is improper for management to view claim departments as profit centers.

This criticism may be valid if “profit center” means boosting financial results by delaying, denying, or underpaying legitimate claims.

That said, the idea of the Claim Department as a profit center has a different, positive connotation. This paradigm is one of a Claim Department and its adjusters delivering such a high level of service that third-party claimants, i.e., noncustomers, gravitate to the insurance company because of how well the adjuster treats them. They listen. They care. They communicate. They follow through and do what they say they will do.

In other words, view third-party claimants as potential customers and deliver such a positive claim experience that—at the next renewal—the claimant will move their coverage to XYZ Insurance Company. Or, they may ask their agent for a quote from that carrier due to the positive afterglow from the claim experience.

The profit-from-service model is a legitimate way to view claim departments as profit centers. Bottom line: the idea that a claim department could be a profit center is not inherently evil or dysfunctional (or good). It depends on how insurance companies intend to use Claim Department to achieve those profits. If they do so by delivering platinum customer service, reinforcing the insurer’s brand, service reputation, and word-of-mouth recommendation, additional business growth and profits should follow.

Adjusters are the Promise-Keepers

In the words of claim expert Chantal Roberts, author of the excellent book, The Art of Adjusting,

Adjusters are the tatted-up, motorcycle-riding, leather-jacket-wearing outcasts of the insurance industry. We’re the first ones whose department experiences a hiring freeze; we’re the ones who have double the amount of work because of said hiring freeze. But we are the promise keepers. Agents sell the promise. Underwriters frame the promise. Compliance people make sure everyone is keeping the promise in metrics and figures. None of them keep the promise. That’s the adjusters’ job.

Soft Skills are HARD!

Bachman concedes that his discussion focuses on so-called “soft skills.” But he points out that soft skills can often be hard to acquire. Let’s not denigrate them for being “soft.” The higher one goes in a claim organization’s hierarchy, the more soft skills matter versus technical expertise. Managers and supervisors need technical knowledge and, increasingly, facility in listening, empathy, diplomacy, and emotional self-control. These “soft skills” are hard to perfect and are underrepresented in claim management discussions.

Bachman’s book reinforces the truism that “people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” That said, successful claim professionals must blend technical expertise with the soft skills of empathy, listening, communication, conflict resolution, de-escalation, emotional self-control, and so forth.

A Book for all Experience Levels

I highly recommend the Successful Adjuster’s Playbook to any claim professional, whether they are newbies, mid-career persons, or seasoned veterans. Bachman’s book is practical, highly readable, and can be finished in one sitting. He sets the service bar high, viewing the claim profession as not just a job but a calling.

Let’s hear it for “The few, the proud, the . . . claim professionals!”

(To order the book, go to https://www.amazon.com/Successful-Adjusters-Playbook-Providing-Experience/dp/1956304037/ref=asc_df_1956304037/?tag=hyprod-20&linkCode=df0&hvadid=533302342524&hvpos=&hvnetw=g&hvrand=11794506480849061895&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9008608&hvtargid=pla-1425797424628&psc=1)

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Thanks for reading. I am an insurance consultant who helps clients assess claim-handling and improve outcomes through expert evaluation and testimony in high-stakes insurance disputes. I am particularly interested in optimizing claim professionals’ productivity, litigation management, and expert witnessing. If you have a comment or a request for a future topic, don’t hesitate to get in touch with me at kevin@kevinquinley.com

Why Cutting-Edge Tech Can Produce Bleeding Edge Bad Faith Claims (Podcast)

Beyoncé, with whom I share the same birthday (September 4th), is reportedly upset that downloads of my podcast interviews erode her sales and market share.

What follows is a link to Part Two of an interview I recently gave to Bill Auten for his excellent “Daily Claims” podcast:

https://podcasts.google.com/feed/aHR0cHM6Ly9mZWVkcy5idXp6c3Byb3V0LmNvbS8xOTg0MTExLnJzcw/episode/QnV6enNwcm91dC0xMTIyODYyMA?hl=en&ved=2ahUKEwiKisPfyIP6AhURFVkFHd6PAUcQjrkEegQIAhAI&ep=6

I cover the following topics that may be of interest to claim professionals, whether newbie, midcareer or veterans:

  • Tips on how insurers and adjusters can prevent bad faith claims
  • What bad faith risks facing independent adjusting companies and adjusters
  • How insurers can invest in continuing education to avoid bad faith claims
  • Why increasingly sophisticated technology is a double-edged sword for claim professionals
  • Claim implications – – good and bad – – of artificial intelligence

As Fall approaches, pour yourself a pumpkin spice latte and invest a few minutes, drinking in the insights and opinions from this conversation!

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