Those of you whose claims experience goes back to the mid-70’s (or before) will fondly recall a time when you were fortunate enough to have a true “Glamour Job”.
In those days, you had the luxury of being able to make your own schedule as you saw fit. You basically came into the office and left the office as you pleased with perhaps one designated “full day” at the office. You had a company car and expense account provided to you.
You called-in for your messages once in the morning and once in the afternoon. (When, if ever, you actually returned those calls was your decision.)
You had a clerical pool handling all the administrative duties, such as the issuing of checks, photocopying files, and , in some cases, even calling doctors for updates on the return-to-work status of Workers Compensation claimants.
When you wanted a report or outside letter you dictated it. A typing specialist returned the completed product to you the next day.
Back then, evaluating bodily injury claims was explained to the novice as “It’s an art; not a science”.
Your evaluation depended upon many variables – some quantitative and some qualitative.
If you were efficient and organized you could knock-off early for the day and could enjoy some free time on your own as your reward.
Those days, my friends, are gone.
In their place may be found white-collar factories that now take the fun out of the job.
For the few claims folks who can still go out on the road you’re only a cell-phone call away from your immediate supervisor or an angry claimant.
Bear in mind these calls are not limited to once in the morning and once in the afternoon. If these calls from the general public went into your voicemail you’d better return each and every one of your calls within 24 hours, or less.
You no longer have the luxury of a clerical pool to handle your administrative tasks. Nor do you have a typing specialist to hammer-out those reports and outside letters.
Instead, with the advent of the “Work Station” you’re now doing it all.
Oh, and by the way, even though you’ve now taken-on the duties of the former clerical pool your volume of claims has remained the same, or worse yet, increased.
The “It’s an art; not a science” philosophy of evaluating a Bodily Injury claim has now been replaced with a computerized software package to which you must pay homage. The irony of these software programs is that fundamental criteria, such as the caliber of the plaintiff’s and defense counsel, the judge hearing the case, along with the type of witness the plaintiff and defendant make are no longer factored into the mix.
This, in turn, leaves the insurance company’s policyholders exposed to verdicts in excess of their respective Liability Policy Limits simply because the computerized program now has the final say on the value of a given case.
The bean-counters are now calling the shots. Layoffs now become the order of the day.
After a layoff, the existing workforce quickly learns it’s the lucky ones who get to leave.
Because the remaining staff are now saddled with wearing even more hats than they were wearing before the downsizing.
Many a time I’ll be speaking with a Claims veteran and I’ll ask, “Hey, do you recall those days when this used to be a ‘Glamour Job’ ?”
There will be a pause on the other end of the phone and then an incredulous, “Yes, I’d almost forgotten. Those were the days !”
The word now heard on the streets: Don’t consider going into claims – not if you value your health.
Stress levels have increased to the extent that any claims veteran who doesn’t suffer from high blood pressure is an anomaly within the work force.
The solution ?
Return to the days where the employer valued the employee and provided him with the freedom to make his own decisions on the value of a case and set his own priorities within a reasonable workload.
Allow the Claims Professional to focus upon the technical aspects of investigating, evaluating, and negotiating a case. Have the administrative duties delegated to others, rather than relegating the Claims Professional to a highly-paid clerk.
When the workforce can, once again, “enjoy the journey” wonderful things will occur. The worker will feel valued and will, in turn, bring his very best to the workplace every day. He will be able to “think outside the box” for the highest good of all concerned.
High turnover, due to high worker burn-out, will become a thing of the past.
The lower turnover will, in turn, reduce the employer’s costs over the long run.
Promotions from within will be possible with a now-stable workforce. Employee loyalty will be engendered in the process.
And when there’s employee loyalty there’s a win-win scenario for master and servant.
The general public will also benefit when interacting with an empowered workforce within a given organization.