“But I thought claims handlers were call centre bods?”

Insurance Claims HandlersMost people’s impression of a claim handler is a guy that sits in his cube wearing a headset, asking his clients questions like: “where were you when your iPhone was dropped in the toilet?”. Sure, there are a few of these around, but let’s take a look at the guys that deal with the multimillion pound frauds, the earthquake clean-ups, the pirates and the oil platform explosions.

In essence, a claims handler has the job of investigating insurance claims, assessing the situation and determining the extent of their company’s liability. They work closely with the underwriters, brokers, loss adjusters and the client to determine the extent of the damage and the appropriate compensation and they probably have one of the most interesting jobs in insurance.

When you look at the huge losses that have been seen in the industry recently, like the Deepwater Horizon oil spill or the Japanese earthquake, think about what’s involved in assessing the magnitude of the damage and calculating your company’s liability? It’s not something you could do in your coffee break on the back of an envelope. These claims handlers are legal wizards, savvy negotiators and true businessmen and if you get into the right areas of insurance, you can scrap the image that all claims handlers are just phone operators asking ridiculous questions about how you dropped your iPhone down the toilet.

Break into the right areas of insurance claims and you could be running a company’s supply chain, busting fraud rings, or flying all over the world to service your global clients’ claims. Claims is one of the most varied roles in insurance and has a lot to offer someone thinking about breaking into the insurance industry.

If you move into global energy claims for example, you could be assessing losses on a wind farm in Holland one week and looking at an explosion on an oil platform in the Atlantic the next week. If you went into Kidnap and Ransom claims, you could find yourself in Somalia, liaising with expert negotiators or planning the logistics of a money drop to pirates. I guarantee that those running claims departments have an overnight bag packed, just in case a midnight fire burns down one of their clients’ offices or a flood stops manufacturing and they have to hop on a plane and be by their clients’ side, assessing the damage and figuring out a way of most effectively getting their clients’ operations back to ‘business as usual’.

One of the most fascinating areas has to be fraud and if you fancy yourself as a bit of a Sherlock Holmes, you wouldn’t do too badly in claims. You wouldn’t believe the lengths people go to carry out insurance fraud. I’m not talking about throwing your iPhone against the wall, I’m talking about breaking up and hiding 3 Ferrari’s and a Maserati in the attempt to repay over £4 million in debts or faking £5.3 million worth of car crashes or faking your own death for a £1 million insurance payout. Huge fraud operations like this are operational all over the world, and it is the insurers’ claims department who are responsible for clamping down on it.

If you see yourself as a bit of a smooth talking negotiator, you might want to look at supply chain management. If you work as a claims handler it is your responsibility to drive down the cost of claims, through leveraging your company’s buying power and negotiating deals with suppliers that offer a great service to your customers at a good price for the insurers.

The best example I’ve heard of in the claims world of a company leveraging their buying power is when a Swiss insurer bought the services of all the largest car garages in Zurich for the three day period after a hailstorm hit the city. They knew the storm was coming and wanted to be prepared to serve their customers’ claims straight after the event; so they leveraged their huge buying power and bought out all the garages in the area to ensure their customers were given priority over others and were not waiting weeks for their cars to get repaired. Imagine trying to negotiate those deals!

There are so many other examples of great jobs in claims, and if you’ve got any leave a comment below and let everyone read about them.

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