'The customer service side of insurance is failing'

Veteran public adjuster reflects on his time in industry

'The customer service side of insurance is failing'

Insurance News

By David Saric

Jeffrey Gould, a public loss adjuster with Alex N. Sill Company, was recently awarded the Person of the Year distinction from The National Association of Public Insurance Adjusters (NAPIA). Having been in the industry for decades, Gould has witnessed some adjustments that he believes do not represent the best interests of insureds.

“The customer service side of insurance is failing,” he stated.

“Now, adjusters have a lot less authority to make decisions, which is a lot different than when I started in the field in the early 1990s.”

In an interview with Insurance Business, Gould detailed what changes in insurance dealings are unfavorable from a public adjuster standpoint and how this profession has satisfied his personal and professional desires.

“Protecting the shareholder value is more important than customer service”

With the market having become a lot more competitive, this has led many insureds to shop based on price, not policy, in Gould’s view.

This has sometimes resulted in consumers not landing the proper coverage they need to safeguard themselves amidst a loss event or to insurers adding exclusions or sub-limits to reduce exposure.

“The only way for carriers to make money, if they are not collecting enough on premiums, is to reduce payment of claims.” Gould said.

“It’s a lot harder to get a claim settled”

Back when Gould first started in the industry, being able to make informed decisions at the site of a loss was a more unencumbered process.

“You used to be able to make million-dollar decisions on the spot,” he said. “Whereas now, it’s a lot harder to get a claim settled.”

Gould said he believed this has happened in part because of technology that has entered the loss adjustment process.

“Too many claims are based on what a computer says,” he stated. “Adjusters don’t adjust anymore, they enter data into a software.”

Also, there are many hurdles to overcome and lines of communication that need to be created to get answers.

“You have to engage in a lot more phone calls, email threads or send a lot of letters in order to proceed on a case, and that is not particularly useful for a client who is wanting to recover quickly from a loss,” Gould said.

“To be there for the consumer is very rewarding”

Gould was ultimately drawn to public adjusting as it has allowed him to help people undergoing difficult times.

“Both my grandfather and father worked in this profession, but I immediately was drawn to the ability to help everyday people in various communities,” he said.

Having graduated from college and working as an auditor for the government, making the switch to his family profession was a no-brainer in hindsight.

“I always told people, I went from my previous job of having people respond with ‘[expletive] you’ to saying, ‘thank you’”, he revealed.

“To be there for the consumer is very rewarding, especially since I’m there to help pick up the pieces during a pretty devastating time in their lives.”

This means recognizing any loss scenario, whether it is a singular home burning down or responding to the aftermath of a catastrophic hurricane, as an event that requires equal attention.

“Just because there's more claims in a geographic area, those claims aren't any more rewarding or important than the everyday house fire,” Gould said.

Being recognized for his dedication

One of the greatest milestones of Gould’s career has been being recognized for his passion and devotion to both his career and the communities he serves.

“I was once the president of the NAPIA and am now chosen to receive this generous award for all my hard work,” he said.

Accolades definitely bring validation to his sense of worth within the industry, Gould is just as dedicated to being a valuable resource to the general public as they navigate the nuances of the insurance market.

“A lot of people have never had a large claim before,” Gould said. “So while it may be challenging at times, making sure a policyholder understands their coverage and being able to walk them through a rough scenario makes doing this job very rewarding.”

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