Meeting of the Minds

A meeting of minds can be a magical thing. And that’s precisely what happened in the FT Adjusting office this morning.

With (almost) all the staff gathered around the office conference table, it nearly felt like a family reunion. We even had Ben and Zack joining us from Melbourne via telephone (after some typical technical issues to begin with). We had our pens and notepads at the ready, and ‘encouragement’ in the form of brownies. And with special guest Simon Bohm joining us – the meeting promised to be a good one.

One of the main focus points of the meeting – what are some of the major problems the insurance industry is currently facing? We identified a few of them. But throughout the meeting we kept coming back to the idea of value. What value do we have as a small loss adjusting company? What is our ‘uniqueness’?

Meeting

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All businesses need to bring something to the table to give them a competitive advantage in any market. It’s this uniqueness that allows a business to thrive. For FT Adjusting, it’s our specialty nichepertise – the fact that we’re niche and we know it. We specialise in claims arising from construction and engineering, and we excel at it.

However, nobody is perfect. Sometimes mistakes can occur that are completely out of your control. It’s ultimately a loss adjuster’s job to determine exactly where the fault lies. But this isn’t always a clear-cut, simple process.

Ian, our director, made the excellent point that people can often expect us to be crystal ball gazers. Well, we’re not quite there yet. There’s no cupboard full of fortune-telling artifacts hidden in the FT Adjusting office. But we do have exemplary analytical and reporting skills that allow us to sift through data to arrive at the correct answer. And we think that’s real value.

Words by Skye Jamieson

Grinding Gears

Everyone loves to have a good old whinge once in a while. It’s a fact of life. Have you ever subjected your imaginary car passengers to an endless tirade because some moron cut you off in traffic? Have you ever angrily told someone to pipe down while commuting in the train’s designated quiet carriage? If you answered yes to both, you might be a serial complainer.

Now, I’m not sure if congratulations are in order for that title. Sometimes complaining can border on rudeness, or straight up road rage. But some might defend the serial complainer. Aren’t they just standing up for consumer rights? Aren’t they just telling it like it is? Complainers are the ones making change, they’re sticking it to the universe, they’re taking control!

Gears

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Australians are cottoning on to the benefits of complaining. More and more of us are becoming serial complainers. Even the insurance industry is feeling the wrath of complaining. According to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) Australia, they received a record number of general insurance disputes in 2016-17.

The FOS received nearly 40, 000 disputes in the period, which was a 16% increase from last year.

Lead Ombudsman, General Insurance, John Price told Insurance News that the general insurance industry is largely responsible for the significant level of increase in complaints received at FOS. He said the rise coincides with increased outsourcing of claims handling, higher claims numbers and increased consumer empowerment through social media.

The loss adjusters at FT Adjusting know that service is paramount, and that a satisfied customer is likely to be a repeat customer. But consumer empowerment is a powerful thing. With social media, consumers are able to interact with, and simultaneously put pressure on companies like never before. Of course, bear in mind that social media is also used for trivial things like Instagramming lattes and mundane status updates. When something’s grinding your gears, it seems that social media is all ears.

Words by Skye Jamieson

Productivity Debunked

Productivity. It’s a word that’s thrown around a lot in weekly meetings. And when it’s accompanied by meaningless buzzwords like synergy, dynamism and linkativity, good old productivity can lose a lot of its punch.

If you’ve ever watched How I Met Your Mother, you’ll be familiar with Barney Stinson’s unique buzzword ‘The Possimpible’. Daring to go past what is possible, and even past the impossible – to the place where the possible and the impossible meet…to become the possimpible. Got it?

We don’t either. You see, unlike those meaningless buzzwords, productivity is tangible. And luckily for us, Insurance Business has provided its readers with some top advice for improving productivity in the office.

Productivity

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  1. Assess your job’s passion factor

When we’re doing what we enjoy, we’re more passionate. And your job should be no exception. Start with the heart, says Insurance Business, and watch as you become motivated with the positive, heart-felt enjoyment you feel in your role.

  1. Debunk your productivity myth

One of the most common productivity myths that’s holding you back is the belief that you have more work to do than anyone else. Instead, the truth might be that you’re not managing your time efficiently. Once we drop the myth, doors will open.

  1. Take ownership of your time

It’s okay to say no to demands that aren’t within your priorities. It’s also okay to release your inner perfectionist, when it’s becoming more of a hindrance than a help.

This advice comes from the productivity guru and author Muffy Churches. There’s dozens of tips included in the Insurance Business article, which can be found here. It’s a great read if you’re serious about connectitude, tranformatation and linkativity.

 Words by Skye Jamieson

Dive In Diversity

If you’re in the insurance industry, you might have heard some buzz this week about a certain festival that’s taken place in the form of events in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth. It’s the Lloyd’s Dive In festival, which is an international diversity and inclusion festival.

According to Lloyd’s, it’s continued to garner support with the highest number of insurance sector sponsors since its inception. Insurance News reported that more than 1300 registered attendees participated in ten events over the three-day period.

The theme for this year’s festival reinforced the business case for diversity and inclusion.

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‘The Diversity Dividend is clear: people are drawn to and thrive in inclusive workplaces. Inclusion creates better productivity and team performance, lays the groundwork for inspiring innovation, and reflects the values of our global customer base,’ says Lloyd’s.

Sessions in Sydney covered issues such as customer diversity, innovation, mental health and the gender leadership gap. For the first time, the program extended to other Australian states.

But it’s not only expanding in Australia. Lloyd’s says the festival has reached new heights by expanding to 32 locations across 17 countries.

This is fantastic news for the ever-changing global insurance industry. Just as Lloyd’s says, put simply, diverse and inclusive workplaces are becoming a business fundamental, not a discretionary addition. It sure is a step in the right direction – now let’s hope we keep walking the right way.

For more information about the Dive In festival, you can visit the website here.

Words by Skye Jamieson

Realist Talk

It’s said that there are two types of people in the world – pessimists and optimists.

Pessimists tend to see the worst in situations. They also need a lot of convincing before they jump on board with something.

Optimists, on the other hand, often expect the best outcome in life and events.

These two characters generally appear together in cartoons and as sidekicks in adventure movies. The dream team. Think Marlin and Dory in Finding Nemo, or Ariel and Sebastian the crab in The Little Mermaid. While I consider myself to be a glass half-full kind of person, there’s another type of person that often gets forgotten.

It’s the realist. According to Urban Dictionary (which, of course, is a reliable source of information), a realist is someone who has a firm grip on reality and can see things for what they are, not what they are told they are. Realists have their own views, writes aCanadianGuy. The realist sees the glass as exactly that – half a glass of water.

Realist

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Reading this inspired definition of realists made me realise that I’m most likely surrounded by them in this office. Realists work and live in the moment, and focus on what is currently at hand. Sound familiar? It’s because seeing things in a realistic light is one of the hallmarks of being a successful loss adjuster.

Although a loss adjuster investigates and settles claims on behalf of insurance companies, loss adjusters must act impartially. They report on the situation exactly as it is, being meticulous in what they see and how it is described. Loss adjusters cannot let their judgement be clouded by overstated or deliberately exaggerated items. Most importantly, they need to be certain of their own facts.

So let’s be realistic. There’s good and bad merits for all three personality types. But there’s a good saying that summarises them quite nicely: a pessimist sees a dark tunnel, an optimist sees the light at the end of the tunnel, and the realist sees the train.

Words by Skye Jamieson

Herd Community

This week in the FT Adjusting office there’s been a lot of focus on connecting with people. People from different backgrounds, different companies and different areas. And what brings us together? It’s often a sense of community.

No, not a shared love of the hit TV series (although loving Community doesn’t hurt anybody). Community can be as simple as having a common cultural and historical heritage. But communities can also be quite complex, especially when it comes to social issues and social disadvantages.

Community

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Enter icare. The social insurer has teamed up with the Local Community Services Association, according to an article from Insurance Business. Together, they’re holding the annual Connecting Communities Conference for 2017, which aims at helping diverse communities address social issues and build resilience.

A range of community leaders will tackle important issues such as:

  • Achieving inclusion,
  • Leadership in times of change and uncertainty; and
  • Building strong connected communities.

The conference is also aimed at confronting social justice issues head on, such as diversity. In fact, Eugene McGarrell, icare General Manager, believes that solutions to social problems often originate within local communities.

“The Local Community Services Association plays a vital role in improving the social fabric of our society, as it partners directly with local communities, such as the indigenous community in the Redfern, Newtown and Surry Hills precinct, in an authentic way to create positive grassroots social change,” he said.

As a social insurer, McGarrell believes they can further explore the role they play in building stronger and more connected communities. We definitely agree on that part. As the saying goes, from little things big things grow. And we can certainly see a lot of growth in the future.

The Connecting Communities Conference 2017 was held from 18 to 20 September in Sydney. Click here for more information about the event.

Words by Skye Jamieson

Drive My Car

We’ve come a long way since the early days of automobiles. Seat belts were non-existent. Airbags? Don’t even think about it. Not to mention the fact that windshields were just a great piece of plate glass, just like the glass used for house windows. We may as well have been driving Fred Flintstone’s car for all the safety they provided. This lack of safety led to an incredible number of accidents on our roads.

Of course, we know that safety features in cars developed dramatically over the years. But there are now calls for greater government action on road safety to reduce the cost of road trauma.

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The RAA (Royal Automobile Association) and the AAA (Australian Automobile Association) have jointly called for action after a new report showed the extent of the cost of road trauma in Australia. The report found that costs mainly occur in the form of loss of life and wellbeing, vehicle damage and disability care.

All these costs add up. It’s estimated that that road crashes are costing the government $3.7 billion annually in lost taxation, income support and health and emergency services. And that’s a number that could be easily changed. It could all start with an improved national approach to road safety from both state and federal governments.

According to the RAA, the following steps could be taken by the Australian government to save lives on our roads:
  • Improve data collection to identify causes of death and injury on Australian roads.
  • Re-establish the National Office for Road Safety to support driver education.
  • Ensure emerging trends, such as mobile phone use, are understood.
  • Cut red tape to ensure Australians have access to safer cars.
  • Coordinate education programs.

For more information, you can read the summary of the Cost of Road Trauma in Australia report here, and read the AAA National Road Safety Platform here.

Words by Skye Jamieson

Question Time

Insurance can be a game of questions. Insurance companies are asking thousands of questions to customers every day. It can seem a bit invasive. For example, if you’ve ever had to insure a home or property, you might have been asked things like: ‘What is your roof made of?’ and ‘What’s the date of birth of the oldest person who lives in the house?’. It seems like the next thing they’ll ask you is what you had for breakfast that morning.

While the amount of questioning may seem extreme, it’s purely for the purpose of helping the insurance company completely understand your situation. That way, they can provide you with accurate quotes and rates.

Questions

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But Insurance Business recently explored whether the insurance industry is asking customers the right questions. How can you get the answers you need from customers, the article asked, if you’re asking them the wrong questions?

The article reported that the insurance industry needs to utilise data to become more flexible towards clients. According to an expert from QBE, Jason Clarke, “our industry rates customers or charges for customers on a pretty vanilla basis.” He argued that the industry needs to use data to tailor and create solutions for customers, such as radically changing the question sets they ask.

Asking the right kind of questions is no new discovery for loss adjusters. The process of investigating a claim involves a lot of tasks, but asking questions is one of the most important. It can be through the process of interviewing, talking or listening. It could even be through a game of Animal, Mineral or Vegetable. A loss adjuster’s end goal is to find out the who, what, where, when and how of an incident.

But most importantly, it’s about using questions to get the correct answer.

Words by Skye Jamieson

Cyber Worries

Cyber risk for businesses is once again hitting the headlines, as cyber-attacks are becoming increasingly complex and dangerous.  Way back in March I blogged about how ‘cyber risk’ and ‘cyber security’ had become the new insurance industry buzzwords. Then in May, the WannaCry ransomware attack left some Australian businesses reeling.

Now, it seems the government is starting to crack down on cyber security once and for all. According to an Insurance Business article, the Victorian government is the first state to launch a ‘Cyber Security Strategy’.

The article also states that the strategy was made in response to the constant cyber threats faced by government networks around the world. This can be anything from lone hackers, to “hacktivists”, or even foreign governments attempting to steal information.

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The strategy is part of a larger plan to ensure the state has the best new digital technology that is also resilient against cyberattacks.

Victoria’s Cyber Security Strategy includes:

  • Strengthening partnerships across public and private sectors to share the best practice;
  • Coordinating proven cyber security services;
  • Appointing a chief information security officer to oversee government response to ongoing cyber threats;
  • Developing cyber emergency governance arrangements.

For the full list of the Cyber Security Strategy, you can read the full article here. Cyber risk is an increasing problem, so here’s hoping that more state governments get on board with a similar strategy soon.

Words by Skye Jamieson

Literally Literacy

The Jackson Five knew a thing or two about basic literacy and numeracy skills. You know those darn catchy lyrics!

“ABC/ It’s easy as, 1, 2, 3 / As simple as do re mi…” – Well, you know the rest. I apologise in advance if that song remains stuck in your head for the rest of the afternoon.

Speaking of numeracy skills, (my segue skills are on point today) financial literacy is becoming an increasingly worrying issue for many young Australians. According to The Conversation, a financial literacy assessment report found that around a fifth of 15-year-olds in Australia do not have basic financial literacy.

Literacy

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Hold up, what exactly is meant by the term ‘financial literacy’? Well it’s not as easy as ABC. It’s a whole lot of things. It’s the knowledge and understanding of financial concepts. It’s the ability to apply these concepts and make effective decisions across financial contexts. And it’s the ability to participate in economic life.

The report found that young people are doing worse in this area than previously thought, with students struggling to read payslips and detect financial scams.

Financial literacy and financial stability are two key aspects of an efficient economy. So it’s important that financial literacy becomes a main learning area, especially as the world goes digital. The Conversation believes that the answer is innovative lesson plans, using real world problems that children can relate to. Hopefully our kids will be singing Pi backwards and forwards in no time.

Words by Skye Jamieson