How Private Investigators can get Insurance Adjuster Clients
Editor's note: This article was written by Valerie McGilvrey who served as a Texas property and casualty insurance adjuster for seven years.The opinions expressed here belong to Valerie McGilvrey.
A critical question private investigators often ask is, “How do we get direct work from insurance companies?” This is a client base that investigators often struggle to reach. As a former Texas Property and Casualty Insurance Adjuster, I can teach you the insider perspective on getting hired as an investigator.
Range of Expertise
Worker’s compensation claims aren’t the only claims for which underwriters hire private investigators. When I worked for an insurance agency, fraud claims accounted for about 30% of reassigned claims to my independent adjusting firm. Even simple homeowner claims are sometimes wrought with fraud.
The common-sense approach isn’t to prove that a claim is a fraud, but prove that it is an authentic and covered claim. As an adjuster, if I wasn’t able to do that on my own, I used a private investigator. Because the insurance agency authorized me to pay claims $250,000 and above, I could spend a larger sum of file money on investigations.
The most popular type of fraud during my years of working claims was exotic and luxury auto theft. I attest that it’s still a go-to for easy money with con-artists. It’s easier to recover these vehicles now more than ever due to the number of license plate recognition cameras strapped to repossession spotter cars and tow trucks.
Since insurance adjusters work with more than worker’s compensation, make sure that you are qualified for all lines of their business and can, therefore, be hired for all their cases. An insurance adjuster wants to find one reliable private investigator they can use over and over again instead of spending time finding someone new for every case.
Classes & Self-Promotion
Monetary resources’ scarcity stonewalled opportunities for investigators because insurance agencies can no longer afford their services. Even with referral sites such as Claimsdex.com and Claimspages.com, you need an insurance adjuster that works fraud and workers comp claims to authorize hiring a private investigator. Because this is the case, you will need to stand out from other investigators by having the qualifications to justify the expense.
Before you can market yourself to adjusters, it’s important to sound professional and knowledgeable about what makes insurance investigations different from other types of investigation. For example, insurance investigations have specific terminologies of which you must be familiar, such as MVA (motor vehicle accident) or IME (independent medical examination). To learn about this vocabulary and the expectations of insurance surveillance specifically, you will need to do your own research and potentially take courses.
To be more appealing to a discerning agency, take certification classes offered for insurance investigations and other relevant topics. Be sure to promote your certification and expertise online or in your marketing outreach to demonstrate your relevant skills.
Additionally, these classes provide the opportunity for you to meet hundreds of adjusters. Adjusters themselves attend these classes for their own continuing education and certificates. Here, there is a relaxed atmosphere and you can shake hands, exchange cards, and have their full attention. The best types of classes to attend for this purpose are catastrophe, software, property certifications, and bodily injury.
Keep in mind that, unless insurance companies have specific rules or an established investigation company that they use, insurance adjusters can hire whoever they want to investigate on their behalf. This means you will be appealing less to the companies themselves and more to adjusters. An important part of this is doing your job well and building a stable relationship with adjusters. Professional relationships, just like personal ones, take time, persistence, and attention. Go into this knowing that a single email, business card, or handshake likely won’t get you the job.
Research and attend the conferences for adjuster associations and self-insured associations. There are local, state, regional, and national conferences and associations that require attendance by all insurance agents for continuing education. Here, you can make contacts, build relationships, and earn new clients.
Obtaining your state list of licensed insurance adjusters for a direct mailer could work for a state with a low population. Keep in mind this tactic does not work for every business type as personalization is difficult. Additionally, you can spend thousands of dollars on printing and postage and not get one new client.
Instead of spending money with postcards or hours on the phone, try a more personalized style of marketing. Group insurance adjusters together by type and send out emails that speak directly to their main line of work. Keep a working list of insurance offices and drop off business cards when you are already in the area for another job to keep your time-investment minimal. These tactics are easy to work into your daily routine.
Often, self-insured cities will handle their own claims. Research the cities in your surrounding areas to see if you can add your name to their vendor list of investigators.
Search via Courts
An effective way to find full-time adjusters is to search for civil cases in your local courts. Any case with an insurance company as a plaintiff or defendant that’s in litigation with an individual wouldn’t be a subrogation suit. Subrogation is when an insurer, who paid for the damages in an accident, looks to a third, at-fault party, to cover the costs. Subrogation departments may need investigators to look into a third-party and their responsibility in the accident.
Searching Pacer.gov could also be a strong source for leads. Looking through case files is easier than in years past due to files scanned and made available online either free or at a very low-cost. If a case isn’t viewable online, you can request it and the county would pull the file and scan and upload documents for public view. Most counties don’t charge for viewing or downloading documents that are not certified, which makes the only expense your time.
Working for insurance companies is often very beneficial for private investigators especially if a company turns to them time and time again for all their investigative needs. By receiving the right certification and acknowledging the specific needs of insurance adjusters, private investigators can appeal to adjusters and grow their client base.
About the Author
For seven years, Valerie McGilvrey was a Texas property and casualty insurance adjuster working claims flagged for fraud and also owed an ice house in Spring, Texas. She's now a member of The Fraternal Order of Investigators and the American Bail Coalition. She is also the president of Asset Management Service, established in 1997, which specializes in auto repossession accounts that no other recovery agency can find. You can reach her by email at [email protected], phone at (817) 221-0000, or read her blog on thedailyskip.com.