**Updated 2/13/09- Participate in our Poll on Carrier Certification exams for independent claim adjusters here:
The recent wind and hail storms have brought up the need to centralize information as to where adjusters can obtain their carrier certification tests to go out on storm assignments as independents. We had to pass over many very very qualified senior adjusters on a recent staffing request because the carrier would make NO exception to having passed their pre-qualifying exam for an independent to work their claims.
This practice is becoming much more common and carriers are being much less willing to waive these requirements in the aftermath of Katrina litigation where training seemed to always be a common question during depositions on Katrina lawsuits.
As a result, many adjusters..new and experienced alike… are looking for firms offering their certification exams. This is the way the present system works:
1) Carrier selects adjusting firms that will work their daily and their catastrophe claims
2) The selected firms perform the IDL (Interactive Distance Learning) training and the exams for the carriers
3) If an independent adjuster happens to be on a firm’s roster offering the certification program, they will probably get an email notification of the opportunity to certify but what about the hundreds who have not applied to that particular adjusting firm?
You (as an independent adjuster) do not take the exam directly from the carrier in any case that I am presently aware of. The problems lie in the fact that independents have ZERO way of knowing which independent adjusting firms handle their claims. The carriers normally do not post information for independent adjusters on their open public websites so they are left to word of mouth or postings on forums such as ours at ClaimSmentor. In addition, the adjusting firms being used by a carrier can change regularly as they change service vendors handling their claims.
We have rounded up all of the information we can on upcoming carrier certification exams on the following carriers:
Citizens of FL
We have posted this information in our Seminars Forum on ClaimSmentor. We are also working together with participants to improve on those lists to make sure that we have all of the known adjusting firms offering training and are reviewing all of their websites and providing links to upcoming training. In addition, I will be contacting all of the major carriers media relations departments prior to the 6/1/08 storm season starting to obtain hopefully better information and publish on list of ALL information with website links.
As an example, Citizens of FL is one of the only sites who has an Adjuster Resources link that does have information on independent adjuster training directly on their website. Click here to see their catastrophe vendor list for this year and also this last link (click here) has a 46th vendor that has never made it to their list on the adjuster resource page but is also an approved vendor. State Farm has their 4 vendors listed here(clickhere). We weren’t so lucky finding the information for other carriers except through word of mouth through adjusters participating in our forums or through vendors publishing upcoming training dates either in classified ads (rarely done by most- they expect adjusters to know of them and go directly to their website event or training page) or by directly going to their websites to search for training once we knew they serviced their claims. Even with the known adjusting firms, many have nothing coming up posted on their sites as many have already held their yearly conferences this year and won’t be holding additional certifications unless there is a need at the time of a major catastrophe which we all know is the most stressful time any adjuster can go through tough exams when they are on a cat site with pending claims.
This process is ridiculous is about the best I can say for it. Carriers think that there are no adjusters left out there once a major storm has hit because their selected vendors have run out of folks. Well, I will definitely attest to the fact that after much research and hours spent talking to adjusters through my claim staffing firm that most folks – even the experienced ones- don’t know where to go to obtain their required certification tests through many carriers. More needs to be done to publish this information on carrier websites so independent adjusters can take the testing if that is what they are going to require to deploy them. They shouldn’t assume that there are no qualified folks out there- the fact is there may not be more that have their certification. We know of numerous stories where trainee adjusters who had not even begun their training are pulled out of classes when something major hits to go work files. What a shame when there are experienced folks available who had just not taken their certification classes who were willing to go but turned down over these newer certification class requirements.
Carriers also need to realize that there are MANY independents who are not willing to incur the cost of travel, hotels, and especially gas costs at today’s rates when there is no guarantee of work from a particular carrier or adjusting firm. Much needs to be done to move to 100% web based training classes which can be well done with the technology today. I hear the complaint often from adjusters who can attend an IDL preliminary broadcast locally but then have to drive quite a distance to take the actual test. There is no need for that type of requirement in today’s environment. We understand there are issues of trust that online exams are monitored when conducted such as they are for state licensing exams but there are many many service vendors nationwide that offer such testing facilities that could be utilized for carrier certification testing. Hopefully, we will see improvements in these processes as carriers consider their needs for securing qualified independent personnel to help during major catastrophes.
Other options should be considered by carriers to improve this process to ensure more independent adjusters are available at all times to meet there needs. Examples include offering CE credits for their certification programs to entice the more experienced adjusters to take them, offering them online nationwide at testing facilities, reversing the process so the cart isn’t pulling the horse where the adjuster completes a form online at the carrier site expressing interest in the independent certification exam and then the carrier distributes their information to their approved adjusting firms if they are not wanting to publish that information on their sites (who the adjusting firms are), or just simply giving them registration information through testing facilities where they take the certification exam and then only successful passers names are passed on to approved independent firms to solicit resumes from the adjusters.
The ideal situation would be if there was ONE test that was acceptable to ALL carriers via a training school that is respected by carriers like Vale National (many already send adjusters there for auto and property training from the staff side) where they would accept that certification in lieu of their own but with each carrier having their own policies and their own company interpretations on claim handling issues such as number of hits per square for hail,etc that is very unlikely to ever happen. I’ve seriously considered opening such a facility but the start up costs and the marketing with carriers who take a long time accepting change would make it cost prohibitive but I do hope to see a professional Independent Claim University open one day that the carriers embrace. Most carrier certification programs are very much the same with the major concentration on estimatic issues and code of conduct issues. They could easily be conducted by an outsourced training vendor for them. I think they would see a major change in results in the numbers of adjusters available when they take out the personality equation of different adjusting firms deciding who can come and go for them as far as independent claim staffing. It would give them a true count through one source as to the number of independents truly available. Many tell me part of the issue is the distant arm carriers wish to keep with independents due to the employee/independent issues this could raise so rather they rely on independent adjusting firms to totally manage the training and deployment of independent adjusters.
I also don’t think carriers realize that the process of adjusters being willing to go on standby and waiting in a holding pattern while the independent adjusting firm clears their name and social security number with the carrier to make sure they have the record of their certification and that there is no reason this individual adjuster has been put on a “do not use” list based on past poor performance is workable at the time of a major catastrophe. Independents will not sit at home for days turning down other offers for work from other firms to go out on other assignments when the carrier is back logged and delays getting information back to the adjusting firms so they can deploy the adjusters. The carriers should have online access where an approved adjusting firm can simply enter the adjusters social security number and name and confirm online that they are an approved independent adjuster just like they do for a state adjuster’s license and this would avoid your approved adjusting firm losing the opportunity to use a certified adjuster to another assignment they can deploy on immediately.
Please- help us help you by publishing the necessary information. It’s very simple to add information to a carrier’s career website pages for Independent adjusters as to 1) If you use independents 2) If you do what is required to service your claims experience wise and certificates required 3) What adjusting firms are on their current list of firms receiving assignments 4) A website link to those adjusting firms (Citizens still doesn’t provide them and I can tell you it was quite time consuming to locate all 46 websites for the Citizens Research paper I did when they did not publish that information. 5) They should also publish the estimating software they require since this is dictated by the carrier not the adjusting firm in most cases and the adjusters need to sign up and set up for that software prior to deploying.
If you haven’t registered yet for ClaimSmentor so you can access Carrier Certification information we have collected for adjusters once you are registered. All website registration info is posted on the About page here on the blog.