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AGERS urges risk managers to embrace loss adjusters as key team members

Risk managers should treat loss adjusters as highly-valued members of their team and take advantage of a profession working hard to adapt to the needs of modern business, according to the presidents of two Spanish associations representing both industries.

Juan Carlos López Porcel, president of Spanish risk management association AGERS, and Fernando Muñoz, president of Spain’s loss adjusting association APCAS, also called on the wider risk management and transfer business to work together to raise standards, stressing the need for education and the importance of utilising the next generation.

In discussion with Mr Muñoz, Mr López Porcel said loss adjusters should be viewed as critical members of the insurance process, noting that his risk management team provides them with every tool at its disposal to make their process as simple as possible.

“This expert is part of our team, as much as the claims department, our technicians, the lawyers, even the insurance company itself. We establish a relationship of trust and mutual respect with them, and the adjuster is a crucial part in the process,” said Mr López Porcel, who is risk and insurance manager at Arcelor Mittal Southern Europe.

According to Mr Muñoz, the world of loss adjusting is “changing, and it’s changing fast”. He urged his members to adapt to meet the modern needs of business and said this message is hitting home.

“It is necessary to do things in a different way because the world is moving but keeping in mind our experience and knowhow – i.e. where we are and where we go. We are a profession of lone wolves but we insist on the need of association; to build new structures to give better answers to our customers, all together sharing experiences,” said Mr Muñoz.

He said loss adjusters should have deep knowledge of the insurance market and be solution-driven. “An important trend in the insurance market right now is to give preference to non-judicial or ‘parajudicial’ procedures; the initiative of associations such as the Spanish insurance association UNESPA is an example of this. We can be an instrument to reach an agreement, to ease the communication, to provide transparency,” Mr Muñoz said.

Mr López Porcel urged everyone in the risk management and insurance sector to work together to raise standards and prove their value. He called for everybody to join forces to improve the professionalisation of the market.

“We need to show how beneficial this activity can be to companies and the people involved, and to share knowledge and experiences to improve our discipline a little bit more each and every day,” said the AGERS president.

AGERS’ structure is designed to help in this effort. Although the association is controlled by risk and insurance managers, its board has a minimum number of representatives from other fields, including loss adjusting. This approach ensures the association works closely with brokers, loss adjusters, insurers, lawyers, university professors, regulators and others that can contribute to help develop the risk management profession and its support structures.

Mr López Porcel said AGERS can then share its knowledge with others. “Everything that we can learn from loss adjusters, lawyers, insurance companies and the like is great because we can then fulfill our duty to share that knowledge with others,” he said, noting that the three keys to success are training, leadership and communication.

“The insurance sector can be very traditional or very dynamic but things do not come by their own, you have to go out and look after them, and that requires an exercise of leadership. Moreover, it is very important to focus on training and education,” Mr López Porcel said of AGERS’ priorities.

He summed up the importance of training by quoting Derek Bok, a former president of Harvard University, who said: “If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.”

Mr Muñoz said he particularly likes a quote from the American industrialist Henry Ford on the importance of education: “The only thing worse than training your employees and having them leave is not training them and having them stay.”

One area of focus for AGERS is pushing Ferma’s rimap risk and insurance manager certification scheme, which it believes is a fantastic idea and a path that loss adjusters might follow.

“We consider it as a wonderful idea even for loss adjusters that could follow this path in the future. Imagine, Fernando, a European accreditation for loss adjusters similar to the one that Ferma is offering now to risk managers,” said Mr López Porcel. Mr Muñoz said this “is a very interesting idea”.

As part of rimap, Ferma has given its national associations that meet certain criteria the autonomy to deliver rimap-equivalent courses to prepare students for the exam. AGERS has chosen to do this via the University of Barcelona, following a strict selection process.

Mr López Porcel went on to say that the next generation of Spanish risk and insurance managers are ready and they are currently making a big impact on their companies, the risk profession and AGERS itself.

“There is a group of young professionals that participate in our activities as part of relevant companies in the Spanish market and they are making a big impact. They demand knowledge, they want to be part of our commissions and are very eager to exchange experiences. They are also really creative, they can grasp new and old concepts, connecting them appropriately. Sessions with them are terrifically enriching,” he said.

Mr López Porcel added that AGERS is preparing for the next generation to take over the risk management reigns by searching for professionals with “capabilities and resources” to be “beacons for their team’s works” and further establish best practice.

Mr Muñoz agreed that the next generation of young professionals can help solve a new set of issues thrown up by the modern world.

“They are ready for changes, digitalisation and progress. It is interesting to count on them to manage the future… It is not that you have to get out of the way, but that the new generation will do more things, and they will do them better,” he said.

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