Claims Club Blog: 2013, the worst ever year for loss adjusters?


As we enter the final quarter of 2013 there appears to be no sign of any upturn in UK property claims activity.

This is obviously good news for the insurers and their shareholders, but not for those service providers which make their living dealing with such events.

Things could change given the 'interesting' weather patterns of late, but as things stand, some - perhaps foolishly - are hanging onto the prospect of a subsidence 'event' year for a much need injection of claims and cash flow.

The issue of what service providers such as loss adjusters, disaster recovery specialists and contractor networks do during such downturns to maintain a skilled workforce that could handle a surge, if and when, one arises has been an issue for some time.

But it is arguably becoming more pronounced as insurers insource claims; and cut the rates/fees these providers are paid, meaning that margins are tighter than they were, say a decade ago.

Speaking to a veteran adjuster this week, he remarked that he could not remember it being so bad and posited a number of theories about what may happen from mergers and acquisitions; the end of the 'all-things-to-all-people' adjuster (and with it adjusters breaking the £100m turnover figure); and a recognition that if you want quality you will have to pay for it.

The last point may be a pipe dream, but a number of people have already commented on the Aviva loss adjusting panel review being interesting for its decision to work with a number of smaller firms as opposed to the traditional big four or five.

Behind closed doors it would seem some far-sighted claims managers have expressed concern about the fact insurers may have gone too far in screwing adjusters down on fees, with the knock-on effect that these firms may no longer have the skilled staff should a major disaster strike. An event that would ultimately be to the detriment of the whole industry's reputation, not just the service providers, if standards slip.

What's more it would appear there are rumblings that insurers are in danger of leaving themselves vulnerable in other areas having moved this ruthless procurement strategy into other areas such as their legal panels, for instance.

And that in driving costs down, these law firms - like the adjusters before them - may have to make decisions about investment, that could again cost the industry if they are unable to skill up to fight cases on insurer's behalf.

I would be interested in your thoughts?

Moving on to other matters, I hope that you have signed up to attend the annual Claims Event on the 9 October for what should prove to be an interesting and varied day. If not, for more information and to attend go here.

And the agenda is coming together for the final Claims Club meeting of the year, with the first session and speakers confirmed:

Industrial Deafness claims: Have these legal cases spiked? And how are defendants and claimants managing the outstanding claims?

John Latter, director of technical centre, UK Claims, Zurich
Weightmans partner Jim Byard
Association of Personal Injury Lawyers president and St Johns Barrister Chambers Matthew Stockwell

To sign up now to attend click here.

Until, those meetings, goodbye for now.

Jonathan Swift
Post Claims Club Chair



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