Most of us know what an insurance company is. But just what is an insurance adjuster?
Sometimes it’s not clear who adjusters are and how they’re trained for the job. (After all, how many colleges offer “insurance adjusting” as a major?)
To get some answers, we went behind the scenes with Chad Smith, a property claims specialist at Erie Insurance who handles large losses. Read on to learn more about him and all the important ways he helps Customers in their time of need.
In your own words, what is an insurance adjuster?
To me, an insurance adjuster is someone who has a great deal of responsibility and accountability. An adjuster owes that not just to the company he or she represents, but to the customers who’ve experienced a loss.
At Erie Insurance, adjusters are the ambassadors of the company. People don’t really see how an insurance company works until they have a loss, and we represent that.
What kind of background do you need to become an adjuster?
More often than not, you need to have a college degree. I have a business degree, but insurance adjusters can pursue other fields as well. I would also recommend adding computer and math classes to your coursework.
How did you become an adjuster?
ERIE hired me as an adjuster shortly after graduating from college. I went through a few months of training that included both classroom and field training. I was tested on information and then spent some time out in the field with seasoned adjusters and appraisers to learn about what they did first hand. Because I work directly for an insurance company, I don’t need a license to be an adjuster. However, the rules vary by state.
What kind of skills do you need as an adjuster?
Being people-oriented is a must. You need to be able to empathize with the Customer by putting yourself in their shoes. Honesty and integrity are essential in establishing trust.
Because of the way the field is evolving, you need to be really comfortable with technology or be willing to learn it. To grow as a professional adjuster, you have to move beyond in-house training and pursue professional insurance designations like the Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter (CPCU) and Associate in Claims (AIC).
What is a normal day like?
There really is no normal day. And that’s one reason why I love my job!
In order to handle it, you have to structure your days to a certain degree, but also maintain flexibility. I might plan to make calls all morning—but if I get an urgent claim, I need to reorder my day. I’m always busy.
What hours do you work?
I usually start early and end late. Sometimes I work weekends. I enjoy a lot of freedom with this position—and I’m available almost 24/7 because that’s how you provide great service. You can’t be stuck in the traditional nine-to-five, Monday through Friday mindset as an adjuster.
What’s the most memorable claim experience you’ve had?
Over the years, I’ve had many. One that stands out is working during the 2011 tornado catastrophes in North Carolina, Virginia and Tennessee. ERIE was the first insurance company on the scene. There was a lot of damage, but I was able to respond quickly and help Customers affected by the tornadoes. The fast response was made possible by the way ERIE set up its catastrophe team units. Some people I spoke to said neighbors with other carriers hadn’t even heard from their adjusters yet. It was extremely gratifying to help ERIE’s Customers when they really needed it.
What’s the most gratifying part of your job?
Knowing in my heart that I did the best I could for ERIE and for the Customer on every claim that I handle. I remember one claim we had to deny; even still, the Customer sent me a card thanking me for how polite and helpful I’d been during the process. Everyone should receive the same level of service, regardless of the outcome.