Claims handlers are responsible for processing and investigating insurance claims relating to customers’ policies. This will involve working with the policy holder, colleagues and other professionals to ensure that the claim is valid.
The role of a claims handler is to process a customer’s or client’s insurance claim. There is a wide range of different insurances available – travel, home and contents, private indemnity etc and the role is likely to change depending upon the area you work in.
Most claim handlers will be responsible for the claim from when it is first reported, to final payment or rejection. Claims handlers will therefore be expected to work with a range of different individuals to ensure that a claim is handled properly. This will include liaising with the customer to find out the details of the claim and making sure that all the correct documentation has been filled out, passing the claim on to the relevant internal departments and informing the customer whether their claim has been accepted.
Depending upon the size of the insurer, the tasks you will be expected to undertake will vary. Claim handlers working for large global institutions may simply be the policyholder’s main point of contact. Claim handlers with more experience will often take on an assessor or loss adjuster role. The loss adjusting side of the business involves a greater responsibility for investigating the validity of a claim. This role can involve visiting the policyholder or their property, liaising with the police, lawyers and/or other professional investigators.
Starting salaries will normally be between £16,000 and £20,000 although these are likely to vary depending upon your employer and the area of insurance you work in. More specialist areas will likely have higher starting salaries but competition application for places may be higher. With training and experience salaries are likely to increase and it may be possible to move into supervisory or management positions. Salaries for these roles are likely to be around £25,000 to £50,000 depending upon experience, industry and the size of the team.
As a claims handler you will be expected to:
- Liaise with policyholders, taking information on the nature of the claim and details of their policy.
- Pass information on to other colleagues and professionals including claims investigators and underwriters.
- Update computer and paper records with details of the claim.
- Discuss the claim with suppliers and repairers as necessary. For example, you may have to organise a replacement vehicle to be delivered to a client or for builders to repair damage to a property.
- Keep the policyholder informed both verbally and in writing of the status of the claim.
- Advise clients on general queries and insurance issues.
Most employers will require a minimum of 5 grade A-C GCSEs, and you will normally require grades B or above in Mathematics and English. For those looking to take up positions straight from school your chances will be improved if you have A-levels or a recognised HND qualification. However, the majority of larger firms will offer claims handlers’ positions to graduates. There are no specific degree subjects required but degrees in business related subjects such as business studies or economics may be favoured.
The insurance industry has ballooned over recent years with both the volume of insurance contracts and different areas increasing greatly. There is a range of qualifications which you may look to pursue, including those offered by universities such as an MSc in Insurance and Risk Management and those offered by specialist providers. These include:
- Advanced Diploma in Insurance
- Lloyd’s and London Market Introductory Test (“LLMIT”)
- Certificate in Contract Wording
- Fellowship in Insurance
- Certificate in IT for Insurance Professionals
- Award in Insurance
Your employer will likely provide advice on which qualifications are appropriate for you. If you are looking to study independently or in order to move into the industry the Chartered Insurance Institute (“CII”) offers a wide range of generalist courses. The basic qualification is the Award in Insurance which provides an introductory-level study programme developing fundamental knowledge on key topics.
- Attention to detail – you will need to ensure that all conditions of a claim are met to ensure that the claim can be processed and validated.
- Technical knowledge of the insurance industry
- An analytical mind
- Good numeracy and literary skills
- A working knowledge of computers and computer programmes such as Excel and Word
- The ability to work to a deadline
- Excellent interpersonal, customer care and communication skills
- For specialist areas you may require very specific skills. Lloyds of London is one of the most significant insurers in the world and offers very specific diversification of risks to policyholders. There are opportunities to work in specialist fields and if you do this you may require expert knowledge in specific areas such as medicine, economics or politics.
Office hours are normally 9-5 although some businesses offer a 24 hour service and you may be expected to work anti-social hours or shifts.
Although the recent financial crisis has reduced the number of jobs available, the insurance industry and wider financial services industry in the UK is still one of the most important employers. Most employers have cut jobs recently but have kept graduate schemes running. Finding a job in financial services can be difficulty at present and it is advisable to obtain relevant work experience to set yourself apart from the field. If you speak to a careers advisor or contact your local Connexions office they may be able to put you in touch with businesses in your area. It is also possible to complete an internship with larger companies but you should apply early.
The insurance industry is dominated by large financial companies, insurers and re-insurance businesses in Europe and the UK. Most of these firms will look to take people on as either a graduate or straight from school and will normally offer a comprehensive health and benefits and pension scheme.
Banks – most major UK Banks write a broad range of insurance contracts.
Insurance Companies – companies such as Legal and General, AVIVA and Prudential will have claims handlers across a range of fields. Take a look at FUBRA’s market leading home insurance,
car insurance and travel insurance guides for a list of UK insurers.
Working as a claims handler can provide excellent exposure to a range of insurance issues. Due to the nature of the business there are both technical back office roles and client facing roles available. The majority of large firms will have fast track schemes and provide appropriate training. If you wish to remain as a claim handler there will be the opportunity to move into supervisory or management roles.
Studying for a generalist qualification can be beneficial at first as it provides a solid foundation to transfer across different sectors. However, developing an in-demand specialism is likely to be better paid in the long term.
As well as sectoral moves you may also look to transfer across job roles and working as a claims handler can provide a solid foundation to move into underwriting, loss adjusting, broking or other related careers.
Also known as…
- Loss Adjuster
- Loss Assessor
- Claims investigator
What’s it really like?
How long have you been in this particular job / industry?
I’ve been working for Allianz insurers in Milton Keynes for the past two years. This is my first ‘proper’ job since I left university.
What did you do before this job?
I started out at Leeds University studying psychology and sociology but decided after my second year to move down to Buckinghamshire New University. I spent two years studying criminology and graduated in 2007.
What do you do in a typical day at work?
I joined Allianz in September 2007 on their graduate training scheme which is a two year scheme. Allianz is part of the Allianz Group which is one of the largest financial institutions in the world. We have a series of different insurance divisions and it is possible to move across departments which is good. I am currently in the claims division which is responsible for processing around £500m of claims a year.
I work standard office hours. A typical day is somewhat hard to define as it ultimately depends on what issues / claims you have to deal with. When I first started, the company concentrated on building our technical skills. As you might expect, there is lots of jargon in the insurance industry and it all hinges on the key concept of mitigating risk. Working in claims is very hands-on and you spend a lot of your time talking to people, both internally and externally. In this sense I guess it’s really a relationship management role. I will normally have several claims running at any one time and work with my peers and line manager to make sure claims are resolved in a timely manner.
What do you like about the job?
Allianz is a great company and my colleagues are all great people. There is a really good social scene in the office and it’s nice to work with and be around a lot of people your own age. There are also a lot of opportunities to move into new areas and the company is very supportive in helping you achieve qualifications and develop your overall technical skills. There is a special talent management programme and if you have a good line manager they will encourage you to move into an area that is appropriate for you.
What do you dislike about the job?
The majority of people you have to deal with are very friendly; however, some policyholders can be a little anxious! This is, I guess, understandable but part of the job does involve dealing with irate people. Some claims can be really interesting but there are also very mundane periods where you are basically just ticking boxes.
What advice would you give to someone thinking of doing this job?
Most of my time is spent in the office and, while you do get to speak to a wide variety of people, this probably isn’t a job for you if you want to get out and meet people. Saying that, there are a lot of other opportunities that can stem from starting off in claims. You need to have good attention to detail to make sure that everything is in order, otherwise things can bounce back and cause you more work in the long term.
What job(s) do you think you might do after this role (i.e. career progression)?
I’m just coming to the end of my training scheme. There are opportunities to move into other areas but I’m not sure where I want to focus my energies at the minute.