Having a Career as a Claims Representative

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Collisions! Crashes! Fender benders! With about the several million cars on the road, it's no wonder that accidents are constantly occurring. And right in the center of seeing that people get their cars repaired and are compensated for injuries are more than millions insurance claims representatives or adjusters, as they are also called. If you choose this career, you will be acting as an intermediary between insurance companies and clients who wish to receive money for their damaged vehicles or personal injuries.

What It's Like To Be a Claims Representative

Above all else, you will be a negotiator. You will negotiate the best price for repairs that you can get with auto and auto-body repair shops. You will negotiate with other insurance companies to determine how losses are to be shared. You will negotiate agreements that satisfy car owners. Besides being a negotiator, you will be an absolute car expert, knowing every part of a car and what is involved in fixing damaged cars. In addition to spending considerable time on the computer, you will also deal with a lot of paperwork.

Let's Find Out What Happens On the Job

You will be assigned claims by your office supervisor. You will find out, first of all, if the customer's insurance policy covers the loss. If you are an inside claims representative, your time will be spent on the phone contacting claimants and getting information on repair costs, medical expenses, and other details your company needs. You may also go outside and inspect cars to determine damage. Finally, you will negotiate settlements. If you are an outside claims representative, you will handle more complex cases, including visiting body shops, consulting police and hospital records, preparing reports for lawsuits, taking photographs, recording statements, and determining fault.

The Pleasures and Pressures of the Job

Even though you follow the same steps to settle every claim, each day is different because you are working with new customers. Although you will be dealing with people who are quite stressed because they were involved in an accident or injured, you will be pleased that your work helps to reduce the stress they are suffering. At the same time, it can be upsetting to be constantly handling difficult customers. Some may become quite angry with you because they did not get the settlement they wanted. Furthermore, you may feel pressured because you have to handle a very high volume of cases.

The Rewards, the Pay, and the Perks

As a claims representative, you will typically work a standard 5-day, 40-hour week. There may be some need to contact customers in the evening. If you are an outside claims representative, you will either use a company car or be reimbursed for using your own car. Your job should be fairly secure because the number of representatives needed does not fluctuate much.

Getting Started

Most companies prefer to hire college graduates. However, companies will hire individuals without a college degree if they have knowledge of automobile mechanics or extensive clerical experience. No specific college major is recommended as preparation for a career as a claims representative. Courses in insurance, economics, and business could be helpful.

Many states require claims representatives, especially if they work for independent companies, to be licensed. Licensing typically involves taking specific state-approved courses and may also mean taking tests on the fundamentals of adjusting. After you are a claims representative, you will have to take continuing education courses in some states.

Climbing the Career Ladder

With on-the-job training and company-provided or continuing education courses plus experience, you can climb this career ladder:

  • inside claims representative

  • senior inside claims representative

  • outside claims representative

  • senior outside claims representative

  • claims examiner or technical specialist

  • supervisor

Now Decide If Being a Claims Representative Is Right For You

A career as a claims representative involves dealing with people. You must ask yourself these questions about your interpersonal skills and get a definite "yes" answer to each if this is the career for you:

  • Can I communicate effectively?

  • Can I handle disgruntled and angry customers?

  • Can I gain the respect and cooperation of others?

  • Things you can do to get a head start

The major thing you can do is to start learning about cars. Remember, in this career you are going to need an excellent knowledge of all the parts of a car. High school courses in auto mechanics can be a helpful starting point, so can reading about cars. You will also want to gain computer skills because much of your work as a claims representative will be done on the computer.

You and Claims Adjusting

See how you respond to these questions and comments about being a claims representative as you consider whether this is a career that appeals to you.

  1. Are you interested in auto body repair and mechanics? You will need enough knowl-edge to assess the damage and determine the cost of repair.

  2. Are you interested in insurance? You will need to be able to figure out if an insurance policy covers the damage and explain the details to your customer.

  3. Are you familiar with using a computer? You will need to use a computer to record and keep track of your customer's claims.

  4. Are you a good negotiator? You will need to negotiate the settlement of a claim that satisfies your customer and your insurance company.

  5. Would you prefer to work out in the field or inside an office? You should start to think about this now because your career will be different depending on where you want to work.

Find Out More about Adjusting Automobile Claims

An excellent way to evaluate whether you would like to be a claims adjuster is by talking to someone who is actively engaged in this occupation. You will also be able to get helpful career information from the following organizations:

The Insurance Information Institute

Alliance of American Insurers

Insurance Institute of America
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