I was given a list of subjects people expressed interest in seeing addressed in our blog. Most did not surprise me as they are the subject of questions we receive in the Claims department on a regular basis. But one intrigued me…people wanted to know about a day in the life of a claim representative. Really? That’s something no one asks! Agents often tell me, “I could never do what you do,” or even, “I would never do what you do,” but never, “How do you do it?” So here goes!
Your claim representative’s day can be a long one. We have two groups in my office – one group prefers to come in early and get a head start on their day before the office opens. The other group stays past closing, wanting to finish one last thing, get one more check out, or make sure the last call is returned before they leave.
Most of us start the day with coffee. How else can you read policy language or interpret medical records first thing in the morning? After our coffee, the first order of business, given our two-hour standard for making contact on new losses, is to check for any new claims. This is something all reps do throughout the day. Just like our work schedule preferences, how we check for claims varies as well. One of my reps has an Outlook reminder that pops up throughout the day. Others make a habit of looking at their assignment screen every time they finish a task and before they move on to another one.
Speaking of tasks, there are many. There is e-mail to be read, responded to, and moved to claim files. Calls to be answered, statements to be taken, vehicles to be moved to storage yards or body shops, roofs to be tarped, police reports to be ordered. Most files involve a flurry of activity in the beginning. After that activity, the waiting game begins. We wait for estimates, reports, and hospital records. To make sure nothing falls through the cracks, an automated diary system will remind us to follow up on those items. If you have ever received a call from your claim rep a week or so after they asked you for an estimate, it is likely your claim showed up on their diary that morning, prompting them to follow up on your estimate.
We eat lunch and take breaks together, often bouncing ideas off each other for handling problems.
It’s all very busy, and with more claims calls coming in all the time, it can become hectic, but most of our reps agree that the pace and variety of work keeps things from becoming boring.
Handling claims can be rewarding. There is the satisfaction of knowing that in most cases, we have been able to help someone. But the job can also be difficult emotionally. People become angry at realities that seem unfair and the claim rep often bears the brunt of that anger. Each of the reps in my office have had an insured or claimant break down on the phone, and most of us have found ourselves crying along with them. Those are our hardest days. Mothers who have lost sons, families who have lost homes, businessmen afraid they will lose their livelihood…all come to us and we listen and empathize, knowing that at that point, that is all we can do. These stories tear at our hearts. On a break after speaking to a mother who lost a child very close in age to my own, I called to tell my baby I loved him.
No day in the life of a claim representative is complete without a peek into what happens when we’re at home. We have a weather radio that goes off in the middle of the night to warn us of approaching storms. We notice missing shingles when we drive through a neighborhood, and when we see an accident or fire on the news, we say a little prayer that we won’t be calling any of the people involved the next day. We watch the Weather Channel and some of us even have our favorite Weather Channel personalities. When we leave on vacation, we turn off the water at the street. We unplug electronics. We wear seatbelts. And when my 9-year-old son asked a neighbor if he could jump on her trampoline and was given permission but was told he had to ask his mother first, my poor little boy said, “Never mind, they’re in insurance.”
So, to answer the question what’s a day in the life of a claim representative like? The answer is no two days are alike, but the one constant is our dedication to our jobs. May you have a happy and claim-free 2014!