For IAIP member, Vikki Angelo, getting into insurance was actually a fluke. She did not seek to find a job in insurance. Vikki moved from Ohio to Texas immediately after college and needed to find a job. She had several interviews with different types of companies and was offered a position with an insurance company as a claims trainee. She went through extensive training, passed all her adjuster licensing, and became a multi-line outside adjuster.
The biggest and perhaps most obvious change since starting her claims career is technology. When she started in 1980, there were no computers. Everything was handwritten and paper policies were read to determine coverage. You used huge books called crash estimating guides to complete an estimate of damages. The second biggest change would be personal touch. In today’s world most adjusters/claim reps work from behind the desk. In the 80s, you went to the scene to investigate, you hand delivered checks, etc. And the third change is specialization. Most insurance carriers have claim reps who specialize. In other words, they handle only property claims, only auto material damage, only casualty and then they specialize even further with a litigation specialist handling the legal portion, or the claim moving up to a different team because the claim has become more difficult. When Vikki started, she handled the entire claim from start to finish – as well as all aspects of the claim, following the claim to the end, which sometimes included testifying in court.
Vikki’s award essay was inspired by all the changes she has seen during her 42 years in the insurance industry. She could have written far more than 500 words to discuss all of them. Even though she started in the insurance industry in 1980, she didn’t join IAIP until 1996. Since joining, she has become a much more confident speaker and has learned so much about the entire industry, not just claims. IAIP has also helped her to grow as a leader.
She feels three key elements for a claims professional to be successful are:
- Always keep learning. You will never know everything and should learn something new every day. Even at 64, she keeps taking classes and learning more and more. Never stop!
- Learn not to take irate customers personally. That was the most difficult thing for her to overcome. People are upset and confused, and you become their punching bag. But you just can’t take it personally.
- To assist with number two. Explain the process in its entirety. You may be busy but the few extra minutes you spend upfront explaining the process to the customer may save you some grief going forward.
Vikki Angelo has been in the insurance industry for 42 years. She started in 1980 as a licensed multi-line claims adjuster in Texas and moved into a management role within five years. She has been in management or leadership since. She has been a member of IAIP for 26 years and has served in leadership roles at all levels. She is currently serving as Region IV Vice President. In her spare time, she has served on several non-profit boards and volunteers whenever possible.