A claims handler essentially deals with most aspects of a claim made by a policy holder to their insurance company. The claims tend to be in regard to damage to property or personal injury although can cover a number of angles including commercial, industrial and business claims. A claims handler will deal with a claim in its entirety; from the initial enquiry by the claimant, to negotiating a settlement with legal representatives from all the parties involved. This includes a number of different tasks and roles including communicating with the claimant, working with a loss adjuster to ensure a claim is genuine, dealing with the paperwork involved in the claim, offering advice to clients and generally making sure the whole process runs smoothly and results in a fair settlement. A more senior claims handler will tend to take on more of a loss adjuster role; becoming more involved in assessing the actual claim rather than dealing with the process. In some larger firms, a claims handler will be the first port of call for a claimant and simply oversee the process.
As a result of these roles, a claims handler needs to possess a variety of skills and talents. The ability to work to a tight schedule and good organisational and time management keys are paramount. A claims handler must have an analytical mind and be confident in their judgement. IT literacy and good numeracy and literacy skills are also vital along with a great initiative. Negotiation and good interpersonal communication skills are key also. The standard working hours of a claims handler is weekdays, 9 until 5 although some overtime maybe required when liaising with loss adjusters, insurance brokers and clients. Despite the stressful nature of the work, with tight deadlines and such, claims handlers are rarely required to be away overnight or travel overseas.
Typical employers of claims handlers are large insurance companies and banks. These companies and organisations tend to look for graduate applicants, particularly favouring those from mathematics, engineering, economics or law backgrounds. Despite this, a claims handler could enter the profession through promotion from a junior administrative role within an insurance company. Claims handlers entering as graduates tend to enter an intense graduate training scheme, usually lasting up to 2 years. After this, on the job training goes on for a further 2 to 3 years, often training in a specialist area of insurance. Larger companies often offer opportunities to study and become an associate member of the Chartered Insurance Institute.
Gaining membership greatly improves a claims handler’s opportunity of promotion and entering management type roles although reaching this level takes around 3 more years of study. In the way of career prospects, claims handlers often go onto move into other areas of the insurance industry such as broking or risk management or specialise in areas such as marine or aviation insurance. Typical starting salaries for a claims handler are around ?21,000 although senior claims handlers, dealing with much more complex claims, can earn up to ?100,000 a year plus bonuses and perks such as cheaper insurance or a company car.
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