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Posted on Tuesday, February 01, 2000 - 5:12 pm:   

As they say, "The grass is always greener". I left a staff positon with a major player last May and surpassed my previous years salary by August.
By the end of the year I had almost tripled it.
Yeah OK there are expenses to pay and taxes but let me tell you it was nice to get paid for working for a change. I remember getting 200 claims in one month as a staffer and was asked 2 months later why my pending was so high!
Get ready for office politics, unrealistic and un obtainable objectives to meet, endless boring meetings to attend (free coffee and donuts!!) and plenty of long hours (less the feeling of proper compensation) Oh, and let us not forget your shiney new Taurus/Malibu with gas card.
I have no regrets leaving the big boys and I would stick it out if I were you or get with another IA that will give you more work.
Good Luck...
R.D. Hood
Posted on Monday, January 31, 2000 - 11:24 am:   

Opps, forgot the "http://" sorry Jim.
Jim Flynt
Posted on Monday, January 31, 2000 - 10:46 am:   

Direct Link to AICPCU for AIC (Associate in Claims) and INS (Certificate in General Insurance) is at CLICK HERE TO GO THERE!
R.D. Hood
Posted on Monday, January 31, 2000 - 10:19 am:   

For on-line information regarding this topic, including the ability to order educational information, register for exams and a through explanation of the programs, try
Posted on Monday, January 31, 2000 - 9:52 am:   

iia (insurance institute of america), malvern pennsylvania, 800-644-2101. widely respected and accepted school within the isurance industry. they have numerous courses having to do with all facets of insurance. courses are available for home study, group study, on-line, or through regular college/university classes. call them and request thier "key bulletin" brochure- it explains their program. the certificates most adjusters will be interested in are "certificate in general insurance" and the "associate in claims" designation. those are mandatory for some carriers.
Tom Joyce
Posted on Monday, January 31, 2000 - 9:42 am:   

See previous posts by Jim Flynt and others regarding the Insurance Institute of America and CPCU. Any questions drop me a line.
Alan G.
Posted on Monday, January 31, 2000 - 1:47 am:   

Longtimer, I appreciate your comments. Could you explain more about the claims cert. from IIA that you referred to in your response, I am not familiar with this and interested in knowing more. Thanks!
Alan G.
Posted on Monday, January 31, 2000 - 1:31 am:   

Just wanted to say thank you to everyone who posts comments in this area. They are of great help to me.
Posted on Monday, January 31, 2000 - 12:26 am:   

alan- ghostbuster's not all wet- what he's saying is a fair, if caricaturized, idea of how some carriers think. luckily, not all of the are that way.

i made the transition twice. several years back i went to a supervisory slot with commercial union- good place to work, and good people to work with. only "politics" i ran into there was that once a manager tried to tell me exactly what performance evaluation to give an adjustor. one problem they had was a heavy claims load. none of the adjustors could do as thorough a job as i would have liked simply due to the numbers. the adjustors were good on casualty, and they had a few excellent property people, but the average front line adjustor was not as good as most of independants i knew- bearing in mind that i don't know all independants. i left there because, back then, i couln't get used to being cooped up in an office. would probably have been better off to have stayed.

the second time, i went to a staff field adjustor's slot with a company that we'll leave nameless. all kinds of problems there, & i'd never seen such corporate arrogance. management's attitude seemed to be that an independant was borderline incompetent or worthless trash, possibly both. this after they had a senior staff man, and some agents, go waaay south, and some of their fair-haired favored staff senior adjustors couldn't figure carpets/floor coverings properly, nor much more than estimate their way out of a paper bag. agents wanted to tell adjusters how to handle a claim- and sometimes did. go figure. i stuck it out a few years only because i wanted to stay in the immediate area. if i were still young enough, i'd dig ditches before i worked for somebody like that again.

each carrier is going to have their own requirements and outlooks, as well as "corporate personality". i'd suggest you start by feeling out the staff adjustors you already know. their input could be valuable. some carriers have no problem with an independant just because he is an independant, but nearly all will look at your background- work history, education, credit, health, civil, & criminal, and look for 3 year's adjusting experience. if you've got GAB or Crawford schooling or staff experience somewhere in your history, i suspect most will usually consider that a plus. if you don't already have the associate in claims cert. from iia, getting it will make you look a lot better to anybody, staff or independant.

as far as benefits go, you're right that staff people make less money. but they pay fewer expenses and get a lot of benefits. overall i'd guess that maybe you could take around half as much money from a carrier as you'd normally make on your own, add the value of a good benefit package and the expenses they'd pay, and might still come out over-all roughly as good as you would on your own. bear in mind that the benefits can vary tremendously- think about that when negotiating a salary package, or shopping companies. also, ask how long it takes before you can become vested in their incentive savings program, and how much of your savings that the company will match- both points vary widely.

when you talk to these company people, remember that they tend to espouse the "team" mentality so do whatever you can to get them to think of you as a team member/team player. you can't ignore your independant backgroud, but try to not flaunt the more independant aspects- nor any personal independance. do absolutely nothing that would cause them to question your loyalty to the company- be careful about contacting your old stormin' buddies. take it for granted that all your conversations- personal, private, business, phone, or in person- will be secretly monitored and evaluated. likewise any email on the companies computers. if you just gotta say/write anything at all that might be derogatory or offensive to anyone in the company, be damned tactful or get completely out of the company bldg and off their premises before doing so. expect your phone, work area, break area, entrance area, and restroom to be discretely bugged, or recorded on audio, if not video. they don't always do it, but it happens more often than you think. some companies also use "stoolies"- employees that spy and report on other employees- watch what you say to anybody. big brother lives in the insurance industry.

one other thing- rightly or wrongly, most carriers/staff claims people seem to expect that any cat rat or independant they hire will jump ship on them when the very next storm comes along. in order to counter that, i'd not tell them that i wanted a staff job because times were tight in the storm work. i'd emphazise that i was tired of living/working on the road, and wanted a change of lifestyle/more security, etc. encourage them to think that you've enjoyed your fill of the storm live, are ready to settle down and make a good company man, and aren't likely to go back to storming.

and, if you can honestly do so, represent yourself as an adjustor for an independant adjusting firm- sounds nicer than "cat rat"......

good luck, and keep us posted- we all might be looking to you for help on this one day.
Posted on Sunday, January 30, 2000 - 10:00 pm:   

Posted on Sunday, January 30, 2000 - 9:38 pm:   

Yeah, on your resume & applications make no mention that you were an independent. Pretend you were a contractor or farmer or adult video store owner. Anything but an independent adjuster, that would be the kiss of death in trying to transition over to staff. Also, act like you just had a frontal lobotomy during the interviews. Pretend to be a compliant and quiet sheep being led to the slaughter. Any hint of knowledge or confidence will be your undoing. If you can then con them into hiring you, then for the next six months, just play dumb! Look out for the office politics and corporate ladder climbers. Above all, fade into the wallpaper and keep your mouth shut. Wolves in sheeps clothing have a hard row to hoe. Don't lose your trooping contacts and never contact them over company phone or internet, there are ears everywhere. And at all times remember, when you are discovered and canned, you will then have 18 months of group health insurance at a rate far less than a self employed soul does. Have fun.
Alan G.
Posted on Sunday, January 30, 2000 - 8:12 pm:   

My wife and I are currently cat adjusters for a large independent cat firm, however, work is slow and it seems that the down time between assignments is getting longer. We love adjusting and traveling, yet the less we work the harder it becomes to pay the bills. I am interested in making the conversion from independent cat adjuster to a staff cat adjuster of a major carrier, however, I am not sure of the credentials or experience most major carriers require before making application. It's beginning to look more and more as if the major carriers are increasing their staff cat adjusters, and pushing the independents out of the race. I've heard the pay of staff cat adjuster's is not as great, but just the fact that they are salary-based with benefits sounds very good right now. Could any adjusters out there give me some much needed advice? Do you know what the major carriers are looking for in staff adjusters they hire? Would making the transition be a big mistake? Any feedback on this would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!

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