Claims adjusters are really the unsung heroes of the insurance industry, but unfortunately are under a tremendous amount of stress and pressure. They often receive little reward and little respect for being on the front lines, even though they can have a major impact on claim outcomes — whether it’s in the form of client satisfaction, detecting fraud or reducing claim costs for all stakeholders. So we’ve together 3 tips to make claims adjusters less stressed out and keep them happy.
Those claims organizations that are unaware of their claims adjusters’ value, or ignore the looming shortage of claims professionals, will likely struggle on a go-forward basis — unable to attract professionals to provide the top-of-the-line service that their customers demand.
In fact, 25 percent of insurance industry professionals are expected to retire by 2018, creating an even larger talent and experience gap than already exists, according to a study by McKinsey and Co. Talent shortages equal gaps in service, which can then translate into fewer satisfied customers.
As such, claims organizations would be prudent to facilitate work environments that enable claims professionals to stay engaged and do their best work — satisfying and retaining employees and customers alike. After all, a disengaged workforce often makes for disengaged customers — and therefore, potentially, less revenue.
Here are 3 ways you can reduce claims adjuster stress
These may seem like lofty or intangible goals, but fortunately, they’re manageable — and even measurable — with the right risk management technology. Let’s start with discussing how risk management technology can help establish work-life balance for adjusters and why you should care.
Complaints of erratic schedules and being expected to do “more with less” are not uncommon among claims professionals.
Claims adjusters’ often carry a heavy case load, chock full of paperwork and administrative headaches — not to mention the actual thought-provoking work of investigating claims, resolving conflicts and striking a balance between providing top-notch customer service and looking out for the interest of their employers.
As such, the hours are long and stress can be high. However, the right risk management technology can streamline and automate a multitude of the administrative tasks involved with managing and administering claims — freeing up adjusters’ time for both their sake and the sake of their employers, who will also benefit from a more productive workforce.
For instance, the right risk management technology can:
- Create a paperless claims process that eliminates time spent shuffling paper around, as well as reduces redundant data entry. Electronic incident forms can be automatically converted into electronic claims forms with just a few clicks. Relevant data is auto-populated instead of manually reentered by a claims professional.
- Offer one central repository for all claim data and communications regarding claims — reducing time-consuming back and forth communication regarding claims in one-off emails and phone calls that are difficult to track.
- Automate a wide variety of tasks, including creating and sending first and subsequent reports of injuries to states in a compliant fashion; processing payments; and assigning and tracking claims-related tasks throughout the organization. Certain data inputs trigger these predetermined workflows in the system, alleviating adjusters from having to drive any or all processes on their own accord.
- Simplify report creation and sharing with automatic data visualization tools; regularly scheduled data feeds so all claims data is automatically uploaded and reflects real-time information; and dashboards that allow a variety of users to see information in a variety of formats without the adjuster having to create unique one-off reports time and again.
Such capabilities aren’t mere bells and whistles — or just “nice to haves” — attached to risk management technology. They are actually time-saving solutions (and only a small sample, at that) that help solve for the problem of having an over-burdened workforce.
Work-life balance for claims adjusters: Why you should care
Now, if you’re not a claims adjuster — or, in other words, the person burning the midnight oil and constantly putting out fires — you might wonder why these professionals’ work-life balance matters to you. But it does. And if you are a claims adjuster, you might wonder if such technology could replace you. But it won’t.
Work-life balance isn’t code for “all play and no work.” It’s really just another expression for productivity. Professionals who aren’t burned out are more productive…and productivity is important for the business no matter your role. Claims adjusters who aren’t bogged down with administrative grunt work have an opportunity to showcase their more advanced skills of problem solving — a skill set that should be in high demand for any claims organization.
Risk management technology offers claims adjusters the tools they need to be more productive — and as a result, do more meaningful work that will have a greater impact on the business, as well as how they feel about their roles within the business.
While risk management technology might reduce the administrative to-do lists of claims adjusters, it will also increase their value to any claims organization.
So what exactly is “meaningful work” in the claims arena? This question can obviously elicit different answers from different people. But, in general, meaningful work is intellectually engaging and makes an impact — whether it’s on the overall performance of a claims organization or department, or by helping those parties impacted by a claim.
Claims adjusters who have the capacity and authority to spend time understanding claims trends are likely to feel more intellectually engaged than those who are rubber stamping paperwork. In addition, when granted the same capacity and authority to give claimants the appropriate level of care, adjusters feel more helpful.
Not only can they offer claimants much appreciated guidance, they can also better serve their claims organizations’ interests: Claims adjusters can help retain customers by facilitating strong relationships, and they can minimize claim costs by intervening early — before claimants get mad, get an attorney, or get unnecessary care, and costs get out of control.
When treated more like problem solvers, claims adjusters can add real value by:
- Prioritizing potentially expensive claims and intervening early before costs spiral
- Detecting fraud when claim costs or details don’t align with similar legitimate claims
- Provide prompt and helpful customer service to claimants that benefits all stakeholders
If these sound like big promises that will require a major boost in headcount, don’t fret. Creating more meaningful or strategic roles for claims adjusters does not necessarily require increasing administrative staff to support adjusters in such a newfound capacity. Nor does it mean administrative work gets neglected while claims adjusters pontificate on claims theory.
If claims adjusters don’t have work-life balance or if they are saddled with administrative work that has no meaning, then they might not be long for the world of adjusting — a major problem in claims organizations where such roles must be filled.
It’s even more problematic considering 25 percent of insurance industry professionals are expected to retire by 2018, creating an even larger talent and experience gap than already exists, according to a study by McKinsey and Co.
Holding on to experienced claims adjusters is important for keeping your business running smoothly, as well as training the next generation of claims adjusters. However, seasoned adjusters won’t stay and younger workers might not even dare join the ranks if the adjuster role lacks what workers want.
As seasoned adjusters age or approach retirement, they are likely looking for more predictable schedules and improved work-life balance. Similarly, repeated studies have indicated that Millenials — the next generation of employees — also value work-life balance, but they are even more focused on meaningful work and opportunities for professional growth.
Both groups will be underserved if not enough value or importance is placed on the adjuster role — or, if proper support is not in place to help them execute in a more highly valued role. This is where risk management technology comes into play.
How Risk Management Technology Helps Reduce Stress and Burnout
Risk management technology’s ability to automate so much of the claims administration and management process, as well as enable insightful analysis of claims programs, really does support claims adjusters’ needs to have more work-life balance and meaningful work. As such, it can help retain adjusters in the workforce, as well as attract new adjusters to the workforce.
Additionally, because risk management technology can automate so many processes that seasoned adjusters know simply from memory and repetition, it can reduce the amount of time spent training new employees on administrative tasks like reporting first and second reports of injuries, reporting to OSHA or processing payments.
This leaves more time for training in areas that might keep younger employees more engaged in their work — like predicting and then prioritizing outlier claims that could become costly or that are actually fraudulent; accurately estimating how long an injured worker will be away from work; or detecting general claims trends that could be impacting a business.
Claims organizations that desire to retain customers long-term because of strong relationships and optimal service — and not solely because of pricing — need to put a higher value on the role of the claims adjuster, as well as prioritize the job satisfaction levels of their claims adjusters and prevent claims adjuster burnout. This will keep a more robust workforce in place and minimize the possible damage that could ensue from a talent shortage.