The loss adjusting profession developed from the complex and demanding need of claims processing, and also, to have unbiased and professional assessment of all the gamut of claims details.
As risk became more complex, interpreting the policy wordings after event covered snapped, became the master card of loss adjusters; haven accepted this as inviolable, insurers have outsourced claims investigation and the subsequent loss adjusting to loss adjusters. From the moment the outsourced instruction begins the journey of claims processing, the loss adjuster becomes the face of insurance in the eyes of the policyholder who is expecting a claims cheque for the loss reported, from the insurance company.
The medley of loss adjusters and insurance companies was set on stage in 1992. That was the concert that created the agreed and signed adjusters scale of fees. More than 25 years after the harmony of the fee concert, it is sending discordant tunes. Several key operators in the insurance and broking arms are of the opinion that a fee review should be triggered. The loss adjusters body, Institute of Loss Adjusters of Nigeria, share the same view and strong too, that fee review should be revisited to return the loss adjusting profession to the position it should occupy in the insurance industry and act as independent umpire in claims process and payment.
The president, Institute of Loss Adjusters of Nigeria, Mr Reginald Egbuniwe, who is also the managing director at Grand Metropolitan Associates Limited, spoke on several issues regarding adjusters fees and sustained efforts to get a review of fees negotiated with the insurers body, Nigerian Insurers Association, without success though, but still hopeful. The interview with the ILAN President:
At a recent webinar, top operators in the market supported a review of the professional fees to favour loss adjusters, what’s your take on this?
I believe a review is long overdue. The current scale was agreed with NIA over 25 years ago and does not reflect the current economic realities. A review will allow loss adjusters retain well qualified staff who currently are being taken up by insurers to work in their claims departments. It will also allow them to undergo training to be abreast of trends in the industry and be sufficiently skilled to tackle new risks
What has been the response rate of insurers to NAICOM intervention circular on early payment of loss adjusters fees after discharge voucher?
I have not noticed any improved response in the rate of payment from certain underwriters. There are insurers that have a reputation for paying fees promptly and these few were already settling claims inclusive of fees without prompting from the regulator. I believe that with the new portal being introduced by the regulator, NAICOM, there will be greater transparency in the claims process and NAICOM can more effectively monitor insurers activities when it comes to fee payments.
Has there been any significant drop in outstanding fees?
Well, compared to five years ago, definitely. It has been observed that some insurers, being faced with the struggle of recapitalisation, rising costs and taxes may have delayed payment of fees but like I said earlier, we expect such to be reduced to a bare minimum after the recapitalisation exercise.
When will ILAN engage the insurers body on the fee issue?
ILAN has used any and every opportunity to remind insurers that they cannot develop the industry without a fee review that is acceptable to both parties. Earlier attempts by ILAN had been stoutly resisted, however, leading insurers recognise the need for a few structure review but appear to have their hands tied due to lack of NIA consensus on going forward with this. Nevertheless, ILAN will keep on bringing this issue to insurers attention.