Preventing Insurance Fraud - What is an Insurance Adjuster?

Most of us know what an insurance company is. But just what is an insurance adjuster?

Sometimes it’s not clear who adjusters are and how they’re trained for the job. (After all, how many colleges offer “insurance adjusting” as a major?)

To get some answers, we went behind the scenes with Chad Smith, a property specialist at Erie Insurance who handles large losses. Read on to learn more about him and all the important ways he helps Customers in their time of need. (And feel free to check out our short video above to learn even more!)

In your own words, what is an insurance adjuster?

To me, an insurance adjuster is someone who has a great deal of responsibility and accountability. An adjuster owes that not just to the company he or she represents, but to the customers who’ve experienced a loss.

At Erie Insurance, adjusters are the ambassadors of the company. People don’t really see how an insurance company works until they have a loss, and we represent that.

What kind of background do you need to become an adjuster?

More often than not, you need to have a college degree. I have a business degree, but insurance adjusters can pursue other fields as well. I would also recommend adding computer and math classes to your coursework.

How did you become an adjuster?

ERIE hired me as an adjuster shortly after graduating from college. I went through a few months of training that included both classroom and field training. I was tested on information and then spent some time out in the field with seasoned adjusters and appraisers to learn about what they did first hand. Because I work directly for an insurance company, I don’t need a license to be an adjuster. However, the rules vary by state.

What kind of skills do you need as an adjuster?

Being people-oriented is a must. You need to be able to empathize with the Customer by putting yourself in their shoes. Honesty and integrity are essential in establishing trust.

Because of the way the field is evolving, you need to be really comfortable with technology or be willing to learn it. To grow as a professional adjuster, you have to move beyond in-house training and pursue professional insurance designations like the Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter (CPCU) and Associate in Claims (AIC).

What’s a normal day like?

There really is no normal day. And that’s one reason why I love my job!

In order to handle it, you have to structure your days to a certain degree, but also maintain flexibility. I might plan to make calls all morning—but if I get an urgent claim, I need to reorder my day. I’m always busy.

What hours do you work?

I usually start early and end late. Sometimes I work weekends. I enjoy a lot of freedom with this position—and I’m available almost 24/7 because that’s how you provide great service. You can’t be stuck in the traditional nine-to-five, Monday through Friday mindset as an adjuster.

What’s the most memorable claim experience you’ve had?

Over the years, I’ve had many. One that stands out is working during the 2011 tornado catastrophes in North Carolina, Virginia and Tennessee. ERIE was the first insurance company on the scene. There was a lot of damage, but I was able to respond quickly and help Customers affected by the tornadoes. The fast response was made possible by the way ERIE set up its catastrophe team units. Some people I spoke to said neighbors with other carriers hadn’t even heard from their adjusters yet. It was extremely gratifying to help ERIE’s Customers when they really needed it.

What’s the most gratifying part of your job?

Knowing in my heart that I did the best I could for ERIE and for the Customer on every claim that I handle. I remember one claim we had to deny; even still, the Customer sent me a card thanking me for how polite and helpful I’d been during the process. Everyone should receive the same level of service, regardless of the outcome.

Do you have the backing of a company that offers the kind of top-notch service Chad delivers? If not, contact a local Erie Insurance Agent in your community to discuss your options and get a free quote.

Online Security: Fighting Online Fraud Through eDNA

Long ago, a cartoon ran in The New Yorker, showing a canine seated at a desktop computer. “On the internet,” ran the caption, “nobody knows you’re a dog.”

The same premise holds true today and poses a knotty question in online commerce and FinTech: How do you know the person on the other end of a transaction is really who they say they are? And even if you do confirm their identity, how do you know that person can be trusted?

One firm, IdentityMind Global, provides real-time risk management and fraud prevention through “digital identities,” collecting data across dozens of parameters, separating the financial ecosystem into good actors — those deserving of trust (and completed transactions) — and, well, bad actors.

In an interview with PYMNTS’ Karen Webster, Garrett Gafke, president, CEO and founder of IdentityMind Global, said that the construction of digital identities, by necessity, goes well beyond data that might be thought of as standard, such as a street address, a credit card number or a two-factor security question test.

True merchant risk goes hand-in-hand with global digital commerce and, as Gafke described it, comes in the form of people with little or no history — no history of driver’s licenses, credit cards issued, traditional bank accounts or other standard bits of information. They may not even be scored by the traditional credit bureaus. Yet, these individuals are looking to do business and conduct transactions. Their would-be partners on the other end of the transaction must decide whether to enter into a relationship (however fleeting) with that consumer … or not.

Gafke noted that “transactions of any kind leave a kind of financial, online exhaust” and that each transaction has attributes that, taken together over time, ultimately, can be assembled into a digital identity. “This is real, current information,” said Gafke, “rather than just public, physical information. Good reputations are built slowly, while bad reputations come very quickly.”

That digital identity is established, as Gafke said, in IdentityMind Global’s platform, which links and finds correlations between disparate bits of information and transaction trails that “process, capture, rate and build overall profiles on online identities.” Emails, digital wallets and payments are all linked together, said the executive, to build a “trusted” digital identity.

“Trust” would be the operative word in the relationship between individuals and the firms with which they seek to do business. Trust would also extend to, and be colored by, the people associated with that individual or business. Consider how, in the age of social media, amidst concerns about money laundering, an individual might be viewed with demonstrable trails of following, say, terrorist-linked groups on Twitter.

In a recent whitepaper by the firm, IdentityMind Global also noted that additional data points may come from internet-enabled devices, which can, for instance, help bring location into consideration when determining good actors from bad and in screening across sanctioned individuals or nations.

Using these techniques, said IdentityMind Global in its whitepaper, can help reduce manual review time. There is also a financially positive impact, via a 60 percent reduction in transactional fraud from chargebacks and a 90 percent reduction in fraud that comes at the point of account origination.
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Luiesen Andersen

Author:Luiesen Andersen
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