Ask any Michigan injury lawyer what a typical claims adjustor's office is like, and he or she will smile and say "There's no such thing." Location, corporate philosophy, and size are all factors that determine the climate and attitude in any given company. That said, it is usually safe to assume that larger insurance carriers take a very conservative approach to claims because they are not afraid of lawsuits. When their cases go to court, they often win, and when they don't, the verdicts generally aren't big enough to hurt them. By contrast, smaller companies with lower profiles tend to be more open to negotiation because they want to avoid litigation.
Although their philosophies toward settlement may differ, most insurance companies follow the same or similar protocol and procedures. Specifically:
In a large carrier's office, a claims manager is usually in charge. Typically, the claims manager was an adjustor for many years before being promoted. It's the claims manager's responsibility to closely oversee claims practices, settlement, and any litigation in the local claims office. If a company has several offices, claims managers may supervise more than one. For national companies, there is a chain of command that is similar to the military.
For small to medium cases, claims managers have significant settlement authority, and are powerful by virtue of the amount of money they handle. They are also extremely loyal to their corporate leaders and unlikely to break any rules.
Below claims managers are claims supervisors, who supervise anywhere from a few to more than a dozen adjusters, depending on the size of the company; these individuals have titles like claims technician and claims adjustor. Claims supervisors report to managers, i.e. they do not have the authority that managers do, and in national companies, their work is more closely scrutinized.
Claims managers at local and regional insurance companies, on the other hand, may only have a general claims manager or vice president above them, which likely means they will have more settlement authority. Such an office may only have a few adjustors, whereas a national company may have as many as twenty in a single office.
In a subsequent article, we will discuss the role of the insurance adjuster in the overall hierarchy of an insurance company.
If you would like more information about your claim is being handled, our Michigan injury lawyers will be happy to answer your questions. Please contact us to discuss the particulars of your case.