Everyone is too “busy” getting
to the next claim. His suggestion: “Stop for a moment the
next time you converse with
someone and consciously
think, ‘Am I listening to this
other person ... or am I thinking about what I’m going to
say next?’” He asks, how many
lawsuits could we avoid with
just another hour spent doing
nothing but listening?
#2. Empathy. By definition, adjusters work with people under stress. They would
not contact an adjuster unless
misfortune had visited. Not
only are they stressed, they
may be angry at whatever or
whomever caused their loss.
They may take out anger, unjustly, on the claim professional. Sadly, many people hold
adjusters in low regard, lumping us with bill collectors and
used-car salesman. (Have you ever seen
those TV ads run by personal injury attorneys?) This shapes a negative impression that many consumers have of adjusters as people out to shortchange them.
Adjusters with soft skills possess empathy and see beyond these factors, putting
themselves in the proverbial shoes of the
person who has suffered a loss. They realize it’s not personal! They have a thick
skin about barbs aimed at them. Yet they
do not develop a hard-shell or cynicism.
They realize that one of the positives
about working claims is being able to help
people in times of need. This requires empathy, a key soft skill.
#3. Emotional intelligence.
Daniel Goleman popularized this term
in his book of the same name. It involves
the ability to “read” another person’s
mood and react appropriately. Emotional intelligence is a key soft skill for successful adjusters facing angry claimants,
What skills do adjusters need for professional success in 2014? Certainly, technical skills are a must. This includes a working knowledge of law, medicine, construction,
insurance policy content and interpretation, and subject-matter ex-
pertise specific to the claims they handle. Aside from technical skills,
though, successful adjusters need soft skills.
Six “Soft Skills” for Today’s Adjusters
Don’t think that just because these
skills are called “soft,” that they are easily acquired. While most people would
agree on the types of hard skills needed
for claims success, there is less consensus
regarding which soft skills are essential.
Nevertheless, I will nominate six soft skills
essential for today’s claims professional.
#1. Listening. Hearing and listen-
ing are not synonymous. “God gave us
two ears and one mouth and we should
use them in just that proportion.” As sea-
soned claims people, we understandably
feel we must show our expertise. Silence
discomfits us, and we feel compelled to
fill the void with our own words.
Sometimes, take-charge approaches
work against us though. Instead, switch
the frequency from “send” to “receive”
mode. Keep the ears open and the mouth
closed. Kevin Hromas, a Houston-area
claim specialist, recalls his stint as a Mis-
sissippi “cat” adjuster post-Katrina. He of-
ten sat on a home’s concrete steps with an
insured, because that was all that was left
of the structure. They just talked. Hromas
adds, “Sometimes we prayed. Sometimes
we cussed. Many times, I just listened.”
According to Hromas, listening “is the
one thing that too many adjusters, managers and executives don’t do enough of.”