insurers. Our teams must be able to deal
with problems as they arise in real-time
and in a very specific way to ensure there
are absolutely no missteps. There is no
room for error or delays.
Available and Responsive
Precise project management in claims
also requires fastidious logistics planning
and pooling of available resources well in
advance of disaster striking, as Bowman
BOWMAN: Take Thailand at the moment, for example. We have a multi-na-tional team of U.K. , U.S., and Australian
adjusters who are working on significant
business interruption and property damage claims. In the U.S., we have a specific
catastrophe management team that supports both our U.S. branch offices and
can also be deployed overseas. We do this
year in and out whether there are significant events or few events, and we’ve had
a mixture of both in the last few years.
The U.S. is very specific in having those
weather patterns and volatility.
Meeting and exceeding client expectation and assessing damages correctly in
precarious situations requires thoughtful consideration of all logistics. Internationally, you just can’t put someone in an
airplane and send them to a country to
work. Be sure to get the right papers in
place for work permits to enable individuals to be correctly licensed or supported.
And obviously the appropriate language
skills or a translator is essential for non-English speaking countries.
Bowman emphasized these considerations when insurers devise their own teams
of claims professionals to deploy abroad:
1 Expertise. Match the skill set of the
claims adjuster to the specific catastrophe event.
2 Culture. Especially imperative when
deploying adjusters to the countries
but nevertheless applies in the U.S.
Bramlet: Would you elaborate more
on acclimating adjusters to unfamiliar
locales and cultures?
BOWMAN: Certainly. The biggest issue of transferring staff around is the culture component. A claims organization
must think about how it will prepare its
staff to enter another environment.
Now consider entering a damage site.
Adjusters must be ready to act and deal
with the problems clients have immedi-
ately. There is a marked difference be-
tween international and local, indigenous
companies, so one must be very careful.
Legacy of Learning
Bramlet: What else can domestic enterprises learn from Crawford’s successes
about keeping operations, and by extension, claims running along smoothly?
BOWMAN: As a company, we have
8,900 employees on a global basis. To
respond to catastrophes on U.S. soil, we
have a division with about 1,800 claims
adjusters on standby. We can ensure that
we have the most desirable candidates,
who are licensed in areas where they need
to be deployed. They must also be trained
in our technology.
Because our technology system is
we conduct training
the year and event-specific induction
courses pri or to
deploying the adjusters to the damaged area. The adjuster
must be well-versed in the type of business
appropriate for each client, which, again,
shows the importance of planning ahead.
It is also imperative to understand each
client or policyholder’s requirements.
Crawford accomplishes this via some in-house tools. We have a command center
where we’re able (if necessary) to take
companies’ policy records and map them
over the area that has been damaged to
very quickly get a definitive idea of how
many staff we’ll need, potential damages,
if we can segment the claims, and break
it down to expertise we need as well to
Work, Life and Adventure
Again, this high level of data procurement and management is clearly not a
“fly-by-the-seat-of-the-pants” type of arrangement. Rather, Bowman stressed that
this must be orchestrated and then executed very quickly to maximize cost savings for both the client and the insurer.
While Bowman said that responding to
the slew of widespread disasters yielded
very few snafus, he did relay an amusing
anecdote that speaks to certain key attri-
butes of a typical claims adjuster, namely:
tenacity, dedication, and the ability to
practice humor in event the most difficult
Bramlet: Have any staffers relayed
amusing stories to you about working
in the trenches?
BOWMAN: One of our managers in
Thailand e-mailed me to talk about this
problem he was having in Bangkok. He
then told me, ‘I have crocodile in my
back garden, which I have to navigate
way around each day. Staff members are
arriving to the office via canoes, and not
one has had the day off yet.’
The flooding of nearly biblical propor-
tions has allowed snakes and crocodiles to
basically get into places they shouldn’t be.
So we joked that at our Atlanta headquarters we would not complain about snow.
Bramlet: All joking aside, you acknowledge the tremendous sacrifice of
claims adjusters, especially those who
are deployed to unfamiliar areas in
times of extreme stress, and for months
on end. Tell us more.
BOWMAN: It takes a certain type
of character to work in claims. It takes a
certain type of person to volunteer for deployment. While we do not force anyone
to go, many adjusters actually want overseas deployments.
Bramlet: So who are these eager vol-
BOWMAN: A large number of them
are Millennials. The younger members of
Crawford’s adjusting fraternity are often
excited to work on our company’s overseas operations.
This openness and propensity can be attributed to wanderlust in many cases. Adventure aside, these “volunteers” are seeking challenges and ways to meaningfully
interact with—and assist—policyholders
in distress. This leads me to believe that
perhaps there is hope for talent recruitment in the industry after all. K