We regard the role of a claim suggestion in the insurance industry as one of the most important, and admittedly we are a little biased. Along with being one of the most important jobs in the insurance industry, it is also one of the most stressful. Claims managers and directors are on the front lines with their staff and need to be able to identify claims adjuster burnout that their staff might be facing. They also need to look out for the well-being and productivity of their staff.
Today we will explore the daily stresses that claim adjusters encounter. This includes confrontational policyholders who might disagree with claim decisions, third-party claimants who seek higher injury values, and rude or pushy claimants’ attorneys. We will discuss techniques and strategies that claims managers and directors can use to support their employees to reduce stress.
We want to see claims managers and directors equipped to create a healthy work environment for the exciting and sometimes stressful job of managing claims.
Understanding the Claims Adjuster Burnout
Many factors can cause claims adjuster burnout. The first step as a manager or claims director is understanding these stressors. For this piece, we will look at three of the most significant stressors and the techniques you can use to address them with your staff.
Policyholders Disagreeing with Claims Decisions
When a policyholder disagrees with your adjuster’s decision, it can lead to conflict and increased stress for your adjuster.
We often tout communication skills as one of the most important skills for a claims adjuster, and when managing irate policyholders, communication is key. While clear outgoing communications are important, listening to the policyholders is especially important. Suppose the adjuster can listen to the policyholder’s concerns and empathize with their perspectives. In that case, this can foster understanding and build trust with that individual making it easier to explain to the insured why a decision was made the way it was.
Another surefire way to mitigate claims adjuster burnout in this environment is to promote conflict resolution techniques such as mediation or negotiation skills. Ensure that you have a training program for your staff that addresses different techniques they can use to negotiate or offer an opportunity for mediation with a third party, even if that third party is simply another claims supervisor in your department. Providing an adjuster with a way to escalate a dispute will ensure that they feel supported and that your policyholder will understand that the company is taking them seriously.
Claimants Seeking Higher Valuations for Injuries
Injured claimants are often passionate about their claim because, in many cases, the injuries they have sustained can be debilitating for a brief period and sometimes for the rest of their life. Negotiating the values of injuries is a serious topic, and it presents many opportunities for increased stress on your adjusters.
Because emotions tend to run high in these types of claims, your adjusters must practice emotional regulation techniques to remain calm and composed. This may include deep breathing exercises, mindful practices, and short breaks between calls or discussions about the claim.
Empathy and effective explanations are also important in dealing with adverse third-party claimants. Train your adjusters to demonstrate empathy while they explain the valuation process to claim it. Ensure they clearly and transparently communicate all the factors they used to evaluate the claim. Having information on their side will often make the process less stressful. Ensure your adjusters understand that if new information becomes available that might change their opinion, they can reevaluate, even if this means resubmitting reserves to their supervisors.
Dealing With Rude or Pushy Claimants Attorneys
Interactions with aggressive or condescending attorneys representing injured claimants can significantly impact an adjuster’s stress level.
Instruct your adjusters to treat all attorneys with professionalism and respect, even when the attorney is being rude or condescending. Teach them to take the high road. Remind them to focus on the facts, adhere to company policies, and avoid engaging in confrontational language or being defensive.
Teach adjusters to set clear boundaries and to be assertive about respecting those boundaries. Teach them also that they should be assertive in communicating the expectations of a claimant’s attorney. This is simply a calm and firm request for required information or documentation. Do not be afraid to ask the attorney to back up their allegations with evidence when appropriate.
Claims Adjuster Burnout and Management
A healthy work culture and effective stress management in your claims department require active involvement from claims managers and directors. They will need to be seen, and they will need to be available for their staff when the staff has questions.
Suppose your supervisors and managers are hiding behind their desks and burdened with file audits, whereby they are seen mostly as claim file police. In that case, your staff will become resentful quickly, adding to an already stressful job. Foster an environment of mentorship among your staff that involves senior adjusters, supervisors, and managers.
Another technique your supervisors, managers, and directors can utilize is practicing the abovementioned techniques to demonstrate that your staff is leading by example.
Ensure that your supervisors and managers are conducting one-on-one meetings on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. These one-on-one meetings do not have to review specific claims. One-on-one meetings should foster relationship building. This often means talking about things other than work. Have conversations about hobbies and family.
Get feedback from your staff. Conduct surveys about how they feel about certain things. Make these surveys anonymous so you get honest answers and opinions. While supervisors and managers may not want to hear bad news, knowing about it is the only way to fix claims adjuster burnout.
By actively engaging with adjusters, demonstrating support, and providing resources for your staff, claims managers and directors can effectively manage stress within their claims department. Their involvement is vital in creating and work environment that prioritizes employee well-being and promotes a positive and resilient team.
Stress management in your organization is an ongoing process that will require continuous evaluation and adjustment based on your team’s unique needs, especially if your team is growing.
If your staff struggles with difficult attorneys, check out our comprehensive white paper, “Defense Secrets: Insights on Injury Attorneys”. This document will have more tips and tricks, and resources for you and your staff to utilize when dealing with attorneys who may be difficult or confrontational.
If your claims department is ever in need of assistance with the investigation and management of liability claims, please reach out to us at 585-454-8094, and we will be glad to discuss your needs and how we can help.