Seven out of ten work comp adjusters say…

Senior Associate Jack Johnston joins us again, getting us up to speed on his research into work comp adjusters -

Over the past month or so I’ve been doing research on the claims adjuster profession to get a better understanding of what adjusters like, don’t like, and what their managers can do better – both in improving the adjuster’s lot and the companies they work for. From what I’ve gathered from various online sources, for the most part, adjusters aren’t the happiest, most fulfilled workers.

Gathering information from general websites such as www.glassdoor.com and adjuster-specific websites – www.claimspages.com, www.adjusterspace.org, and fromoneadjustertoanother.ning.com has produced a few positives and a lot of negatives.  Here’s what adjusters have to say about their job and the company they work for:

The Good:

Among those with good things to say, when it came to the pros a lot of them talked about the good benefits they received.  Getting paid during time off and having a 401k; can’t complain about that!  Another somewhat common pro was the flexibility of the work schedule.  Some adjusters stated that if they were doing well enough with work, they could get permission to work from home.  Other adjuster work-life positives included satisfaction with their compensation and the enjoyable camaraderie with co-workers.

The Bad & the Ugly:

While there were a lot of different complaints listed in the many sites I was researching, there were a handful that popped up repeatedly.

Let’s start with caseloads.  There seems to be a ridiculous number of cases handled by some adjusters, forcing them to work overtime (which they don’t get paid for).  Overall, most adjusters appear to be overworked; common complaints included: we are “always behind on work” and “There was an enormous amount of work that is expected of everyone, and it can be very defeating to have most of your days end without a feeling of accomplishment. (sic)” 

Even if an adjuster is doing a good job in the office (or at home), s/he probably shouldn’t expect much of a reward.  Promotions are scarce and raises tend to be paltry, with most getting a 1-2% increase (and that’s only if you are lucky enough to be given a raise).  The lack of ability to move up in the organization has upset many of the adjusters as they feel they aren’t rewarded for the work they put in with the heavy caseloads they deal with every day.

A fair amount of reviewers I read complained that instead of promoting within their company, the firm would hire someone from an outside company and place them in the higher position.  That’s a low blow to the employees who have been working there for years, expecting their effort and loyalty to lead to more responsibility and more income only to see the new person get the job.

Another common complaint is that managers are not qualified and don’t do a good job providing feedback to adjusters.  The adjusters never receive compliments or congratulations and are always told what they are doing wrong and how much more work they have to do.  They complain that they are not trained enough to handle some of their cases efficiently and they also feel that their offices are understaffed.  The adjusters want upper management to be realistic.

Conclusion:

I understand that this is certainly not the voice of all of the claims adjusters in the workers’ comp world but this is what I’ve found.  Websites like www.glassdoor.com can be easily accessed and false information, positive or negative, can be posted by bad actors. 

With that said, 69.2% of adjusters on the glassdoor website would not recommend their job to a friend.

Summary:

  • Adjusters like their benefits, salary, and co-workers… for the most part.
  • Schedules can be flexible (can work from home with permission).
  • No raises, room for growth, and no pay for working OT.
  • Overworked, large caseloads.
  • Always behind on work.
  • Lack of feedback from upper management.
  • And perhaps the most telling quote – “Run, do not work here”

3 thoughts on “Seven out of ten work comp adjusters say…

  1. Joe,
    We’ve been noticing the same thing. That’s why our blog is focusing on highlighting adjusters and all the hard work they do.

    We’ve had round table discussions and spoken to adjusters from various organizations one-on-one, and they’ve all had great things to say. It’s clear that they are a determined bunch. Check out some of the interviews at our blog.

    Here is an infographic with some mind-boggling stats on just how much work the typical adjuster has on a daily basis- http://www.wcinsights.com/yotainfo/

    How do they actually close claims and reassure injured workers when they’re so busy dealing with smaller fires that pop up each day (duplicate bills, missing paperwork, ICD codes, etc)?

    Needless to say, we know how hard they work and we think it’s about time they got some recognition.

  2. Joe
    I began my long standing career in this industry as a young adjuster “trainee ” working for what was then Aetna Life & Casualty. There was at that time a formal corporate training program with a 2 week Hartford based skill school. Claims trainees from around the country were taught basic skills from investigation to statement taking. There was a corporate investment in developing skilled claims professionals , something often missing in today’s environment. We had company cars , spent at least 1/2 day on the road , 5 days a week ,made decent money and had opportunities to be easily promoted when talent and position where well aligned. We had the benefit of having a one jurisdiction caseload. We met IW’s face to face and knew the doctors, lawyers and employers intimately. It was hard work and those of us who found passion in our everyday stuck to it with late nights and weekends fairly normal fare.

    So what are the differences from then to now?
    1) Little investment by TPA’s, carriers ,in developing the technical skills of the claims professional.
    2) Consolidation has caused regionalized adjusting.. 1/2 dozen or more states being handled by a single adjuster. How can anyone be proficient in so many jurisdictions
    3) Caseloads that are too high.. Which forces a ” processing vs managing ” result
    4) Adjuster’s loyalty to their employer is always at risk , adjusting job hopping is pretty prevalent industry happening. In large part due to narrow advancement opportunities and lastly;
    5)The industry is facing a cliff event , where seasoned adjusters are exiting the workforce and the industry has invested little in keeping the true art of adjusting alive and well

  3. I’ve read a lot of these same complaints on Glassdoor and heard them from other sources.

    Caseloads are generally high no matter whether you work for a TPA or carrier and no matter what line of business you handle. Unfortunately this seems to be an industry wide problem and will continue as long as everyone tries to undercut competitors on price. Internal quality/service expectations, audits from clients or brokers, state compliance audits, and other measurements add a lot to an adjuster’s plate.

    Raises are small these days. I think a lot of that ties back to pricing and trying to beat competitors, but rising healthcare costs play a big factor. More expenditures to healthcare means less funds for raises, unless of course the company makes a decision to substantially raise employee group health cost through either payroll deductions or deductibles.

    Let’s face it – most positions within a claims organization are adjuster jobs. With an average ratio around 5:1 (adjusters to supervisors), opportunities for growth are smaller, however I cannot imagine any type of business that does not have more front line colleagues than supervisors. I have personally seen/experienced my employer promote (support staff to adjusters, adjusters to supervisors, supervisors to manager, and the list goes on) from within A LOT when there are qualified internal candidates. What people have to remember is that you get promoted by being extremely proficient in your current role and demonstrating that you have what it takes to succeed in the next challenge.

    Could managers be more qualified? I would say that an employee at any level could always learn something to better themselves. Managers are in their positions because of their technical skills, leadership abilities, and vision. Claims organizations hire qualified adjusters and supervisors to tackle the daily challenges at the desk level. Positive feedback to subordinates is something I would bet that we can all do a better job on.

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