Do, or should insurers care? One of the joys of the job I have as a Loss Assessor/Loss Adjuster (depending which side of the fence you are on), is that over the 28 years I’ve been dealing with insurance claims, I’ve met such a huge variety of people.


Different backgrounds. All walks of life. All ethnicities and ages.

I couldn’t say how many people I’ve met and interacted with, but it will certainly run into several thousand. They all have one thing in common. They’ve all suffered some form of loss or damage to their property or possessions. Which in turn normally means they are under some form of stress or anxiety.

Here’s the thing I find fascinating.

insurers empathyEveryone reacts differently to the incident giving rise to the claim. It doesn’t matter whether it be the result of a break in, a flood, fire or loss of watch. Some folk are stoic about it and just move on, whilst others are completely emotionally overwhelmed.

Of course, I can understand that an incident leading to a claim can happen at a really bad time in one’s life, and can feel like the gods are conspiring against you. Or the incident can happen after a run of relative calm in your life and be like the proverbial water off the ducks back.

Either way, it’s our job to empathize with our client and to calmly guide them through the often-murky waters of the claims process. So many times, I have had feedback from clients, that the claims process made them feel like they had done something wrong, as opposed to them being the ‘victim’.

Or, that the system was not designed to look after them, but rather to find a reason not to pay the claim. We’ve all heard the story of ‘read the small print’. Whilst I know that this is not the overt intention of the claims process, this is absolutely how clients feel very often.

Insure’s need to appreciate this…

What Insurers need to appreciate, is that when a claim is presented to them, there is always a life or lives under some degree of stress, even before the claims process kicks in, and whilst Insurers have a duty to Treat Customers Fairly, this should be more than just words.

This should be hardwired into the culture of the business, such that Insurers should offer care and support every step of the way, and I don’t mean by forcing third-party suppliers on them.

A few weeks ago, I had to refer a claim (that had been declined by Insurers) to the FOS (Financial Ombudsman Service). This, after many weeks of going through Insurer’s internal complaints process. I’d been chasing the FOS up regularly to find out what was going on, only to be told that the matter was in a queue to be allocated to an Ombudsman to review.

One rule for us – another rule for them?

I pointed out that, the client was under an obligation to submit information within a strict timeline, and the Insurers had to consider the complaint within a defined timeline, so why not the FOS? After all the FOS was set up by Parliament to resolve consumer complaints fairly.

When I complained about delays in the complaint process itself, I was advised by a senior manager that there ‘’isn’t a particular, tangible measurement as such that we as a service have to adhere to’’. Staggering – don’t you think?

Maybe it’s a matter of resourcing. Maybe it’s a matter of ‘not our problem… computer says no’ syndrome.

My point is, everyone will react differently to stress.

I’ve had many claimants break down in tears in front of me when discussing a claim. So, surely to goodness Insurers must recognize that soft skills, supported by the process are essential, to provide not just a fair service, but one that truly cares.

Very best wishes.

steven lazarus

Steve Lazarus property claim