What does the claims workforce of the future look like? That’s what I asked when I was quoted in a recent article in Claims Advisor. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2008, there were approximately 306,300 people working as claims adjusters, appraisers, examiners and investigators. By 2018, demand for this workforce is projected to grow by 7 percent to 327,200. But who is filling that demand?

Much like other industries, and especially insurance, the claims function faces a looming talent shortage. We need to focus on recruitment and education and really look at how the role is structured. In short, we need to make the claims profession more attractive.

Challenges in the claims function

So what are the challenges? First off, consider the lingering effects of the financial crisis. Many carriers cut back on recruitment, education and mentoring programs. A short-term savings, to be sure, but in the long term, this affects the expertise and quality of the workforce. And as graying veterans of the claims function retire, knowledge transfer to younger associates simply isn’t happening.

Second, insurance has a perception problem. The industry, I’m sorry to say, is perceived as boring. And even potential recruits who are interested in the industry look to sales-generating functions like sales and underwriting.

Emerging trends in hiring for the claims function

Some companies are dealing with the issue head-on, reinstating mentoring programs and instituting aggressive training initiatives.

Others are tweaking the nature of the job and improving flexibility. For example, carriers are beginning to look at virtual offices and home-based workers, providing shared service centers to provide administrative support.

Another emerging trend is a switch to in hiring focus, from candidates with insurance-focused training to those with decision-making and analytical talents that transfer well to claims.

Part of it, too, is to attract millenials to the insurance industry by understanding their needs and wants, and integrating them into the industry as seamlessly as possible.

What do you think? How will the looming talent shortage affect you, and what steps are you taking to deal with it?

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