Posted By Leland on 21 Aug 2011 06:01 PM
If you want to work on Business income loss claims you will be competing with accountants that have experience handling these calculations; experience testifying in court to defend their opinions; and certifications such as CPA, CFE (Certified fraud Examiner) and others. If you do not have that level of knowledge it will be challenging to get assignments. Just because someone is a CPA doesn't make them ready to handle BI losses but the designation may help them get hired over someone without. Remember also that the carrier will prefer to use outside experts with certifications and experience because it reduces their liability. An inside person is less likely to need to need certifications because they may have a supervisor who is checking their work.
Daily Claims: Most of the time the carriers have accounting vendors they are already comfortable with. An independent adjuster might recommend their own choice. An independent could theoretically suggest someone who is less expensive to work on a simple claim that is not disputed but that is also the kind of claim that the independent might just work on him or herself. Remember any recommendation an independent makes will reflect back on that independent. To be safe the independent would probably like to stick with the carrier's chosen experts or at least use obviously high quality experts. If cost is an issue the adjuster can do the data gathering and/or the accounting vendor can use a junior associate to do the workup. You could promote yourself to independents. If you know what you are doing you could do seminars for independents - free education, maybe with CE credit. They will use your training to handle the losses they want to handle on their own and remember you for bigger losses they want to farm out.
Catastrophe claims: Very often the carrier will have this organized and even outsourced to another state. A large carrier may have its own in house staff. They may or may not ask the adjuster to gather the data. They may be more likely to allow the adjuster to work up the loss- in the chaos of the storm they might allow some adjusters to do some BI claims. I worked one storm where the carrier gave us classes and asked us to turn the data in to the carrier if we weren't comfortable working up the numbers or handle it ourselves if we were. They told us how to gather the data and gave us a spreadsheet to fill out. They taught us that they were willing to disregard tax returns that showed understated income. Other carriers choose to rely on tax returns- every carrier is different. This carrier used company agents around the USA to act as file examiners for our BI worksheets. I assume they picked agents with accounting knowledge. As CAT adjusters we were told to get whatever data we could- handwritten notes, photographs of computer screens, etc. After we turned in our data, the agent/file examiners would often question why our documentation was so informal. To my knowledge non of the claims were handled by outside experts. How an accountant could get work on Catastrophes: 1) work for the carrier's accounting expert as a temp 2) get on the team of the cat vendor, helping the adjusters and splitting the fee bill. 3) be an adjuster and work fee splits with other adjusters. Each of these choices is a little iffy but might work with a smaller CAT vendor.
I have more experience with daily claims than CAT claims. I would guess that big CAT vendors have this all locked up in a certain way they do business. Other adjusters can comment on big CAT vendors and how they do things.
You could Google "forensic accountant" and "business income loss" to find the websites and articles from the companies that already do this work.
CPA's are generally held in high regard. They are the kind of experts that might be able to work both sides of the fence, at least in the beginning of their marketing efforts. You could get work from public adjusters to get some experience. Your work will be looked at by the carrier's expert which will sharpen your skills. You will probably not get away with any sloppy work. That might be an easier path into this niche. But if your work isn't top notch you will just be destroying your reputation with the people you hope to get work from later.
In short, there is no easy way to crack into what you want to do. There aren't that many players in this niche. Your best bet might be to go work for one that already exists.
Leland has essentially hit the nail on the head with his information. Most CAT vendors usually outsource this type of niche' simply for the insulation as in regards towards liability and culpability. When getting into the "forensic accounting" especially as it relates to commercial claims, that can become the single most time consuming part of the claim. With today's litigious society and with the onset of Public Adjuster firms and plaintiff attorney's, there is a great deal of not only money on the table but liability as well.
Whilst only my opinion, I would say of you sincerely want to pursue this you would be more likely to succeed by soliciting the firms doing the work that are contracted by the carriers. Start by simply going through the phone book with an emphasis on tax attorneys CPA's or as Leland stated simply google "forensic acounting" business interruption insurance claims etc....
Another thought which Leleand also touched on is you would in all likelihood have better luck in obtaining a position which dare I say A PA firm or a plaintiff attorney.
One of my closest and dearest associates to whom asked me to work for his firm during Katrina/Rita(couldn't do it /already working for a carrier at that time) is a tax attorney and CPA and made quite a bit of money from Katrina/Rita representing insureds not happy with their insurance settlements. Whislt I did NOT work for him in that time, I did hang out with him for a spell as we were both in NOLA for almost 2 years and I got to see the inner workings of how the "other side operates"
From seeing how my associate operated during that time, I have gotten into quite a few pissing contests with other folks here on CADO that NOT all PA firms and plaintiff attorneys are lying scheming bastards. This guy and by default his office rarely filed a lawsuit from the onset or even demand appraisal as the first contact. He simply worked towards a settlement much like a PA and whereas a PA must stop after mediation, he could file a lawsuit. I can say he probably filed lawsuits on less than 10% of said claims he represented the insured on.
You would have more luck on that side of the fence but you should be forewarned that in many situations once you go over to the "other side" you may find it difficult or impossible to come back to the carrier side. If you work for a PA firm, you should probably stay there or atleast never use them as a reference of experience when applying with a carrier. Working for a plaintiff attorney is kinda gray area.
I will NOT promote any PA or plaintiff attorney here on CADO, if you are so inclined drop me a message here and I will give you my associates info.
"A good leader leads.....
..... but a great leader is followed !!"