For nearly 20 years, I have had an incredible career in property insurance claims. I have worked directly for insurance carriers, as an independent adjuster, and now for a claims service provider. I want to tell you how I stumbled into insurance and what I think makes it great, in hopes that you too will find your place in the industry and love it as much as I do.
Like many in our industry, I had no intention of working in insurance. I originally planned on going to law school, but quickly realized that path was not for me. After graduation, I decided to try out a State Farm training program offered through my alma mater, UNC Chapel Hill.
After getting a background in both underwriting and claims, I decided to pursue a career in claims adjusting. I loved the fact that as an adjuster you weren’t tied down to a desk, and no two days were quite the same.
I continued to work for State Farm for a couple of years once completing the training program. After the September 11 terrorist attacks, I took a job with Travelers as a CAT adjuster. I had never worked catastrophe claims before and was baptized by fire in the wake of this national tragedy. Here, I learned the importance of insurance in the healing process. Not only was I an adjuster, but also a therapist, a friend, and a confidant. I really felt like I was making a difference in the lives of these individuals, and I loved being able to help them during this difficult time.
After my first CAT, I was hooked. Over the next couple of years, I spent a lot of my time in Florida working the major hurricanes that hit the area between 2002 and 2004. Then in 2005, came Katrina.
I went to New Orleans as a CAT reinspector for Travelers, and I lived there for about 8 months handling claims from Hurricane Katrina. After the first few months, I ended up taking a position with ICA, an independent adjusting firm. I was motivated to make the change by the promise of more money in short spurts and the ability to gain experience by working many different carriers’ claims.
While working in New Orleans, I really felt like I was helping the city recover from this major disaster. This was incredibly fulfilling, and I learned a lot from those claims where I had to deny coverage. Empathy is important when handling any claim, but it is critical when working CAT claims. You have to understand that the people you are working with have suffered a horrible loss, and you can’t let yourself become desensitized. Almost 12 years later, I can still vividly remember standing at every door and staring at the X drawn by rescue teams that denoted what group checked the house and when, sadly, someone had lost their life in the storm.
After a few years of hard work as a catastrophe manager with ICA, I was promoted to running claim operations of the large independent adjusting firm. There I recognized that the level of training that new adjusters receive was rapidly diminishing. Many carriers had eliminated their traditional training programs, and I decided to make it my mission to help educate new adjusters and elevate our sector of the industry by sharing what I had learned working major catastrophes.
During my time as Director of Claim Operations for ICA, I also recognized the need for more technical education for property claim adjusters in order to effectively handle today’s claims, which is what led me to take a position as Chief Claims Officer of HVAC Investigators and StrikeCheck. Our mission is to help adjusters settle claims involving complex equipment, and we strive to create educational resources and provide training to adjusters.
While I may not have intended to get into insurance, after almost two decades, I wouldn’t want to be in any other industry. There are many things I love about the insurance industry, but two reasons rise above the rest. The first is that the industry is recession proof. No matter what happens to the economy or to the job market, there are always jobs in this field because insurance is not a luxury item. Not only that, but the actual number of claims filed tends to increase as the economy goes down. While financial security is an amazing benefit of working in the insurance industry, to me, the fulfillment of helping people during difficult times is even better. Working in claims, you are there for people in their time of need and you can be on the frontlines helping a community rebuild in the wake of a disaster.
I truly believe that a career in the insurance industry is a great path for anyone, but especially for a millennial just starting out in the workforce. You can build a career that is financially stable, while making a difference in the lives of others. This is an incredibly exciting time in the industry, as we are in the midst of a technological revolution and you can help mold the future of the insurance world!