When you think of a claims adjuster, you probably envision a professional who manages the aftermath of a loss. While accurate, it is only part of the picture. An experienced adjuster can play an even more vital role before a loss occurs.
This is because claims specialists who take part in preloss planning are making strides in helping customers mitigate losses by expediting recovery well before a loss even takes place.
This preloss planning utilizes a team approach, uniting claims specialists, underwriters, risk engineers and the insured, to identify exposures and promote effective loss control.
The process begins with engineering studies, undertaken to analyze the insured's risks. These inspections are a critical part of preloss planning. They help customers identify areas where loss prevention is most urgent. The process includes a discussion of loss control techniques and recommendations, where appropriate, that may benefit the customer by helping to reduce both the frequency and severity of losses.
Work would then proceed to planning the means that would be deployed to help a customer manage and recover quickly when a loss happens. By collaborating with the insured through this process, the insurance team gains an in-depth understanding of the unique needs and preferences of the client.
Such partnering before a loss also ensures that the insured can focus its efforts on pressing issues such as expediting repairs to damaged property, mitigating losses to protect income and market base and minimizing environmental impacts.
Since expectations for claims handling will be shared, a plan to avoid obstacles can be developed and the groundwork laid for overcoming impediments to a speedy resolution. Consequently, if a loss occurs, the claims team will be able to focus not on "putting out fires," but on assisting with recovery efforts and evaluating cash management issues related to a loss reinstatement, in line with customer expectations.
DENIS H. SMITH is senior vice president of claims with Zurich Global Energy.
April 1, 2005
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