Everything you need to know about the claims handler career path, from skills and qualifications to future progression and where it can lead to…
Insurance claims handlers are involved in managing a claim right from the start through to the settlement stage, while making decisions on the extent and validity of a claim and checking for any potential fraudulent activity.
The role also encompasses coordinating services that may be required by policyholders following an accident or incident. This can include organising approved tradespeople to make homes safe again or ordering replacement goods if a policyholder has been burgled.
This all ensures that claims made on policies are dealt with efficiently and effectively and that payment for valid claims is made out to policyholders.
Policyholders can include businesses and individuals, covering issues such as:
Business - damage to premises, disruption, injury to staff or the public or theft
Home - burglary, fire, flood or other accidental damage
Motor vehicle - theft, accident, injury or death
Personal - accidents, illness or death
Pets - vets' fees or damage or injury caused by a pet
Travel - flight delays and cancellations, missing luggage, theft, illness or injury.
You might also be involved in large-scale accidents and incidents, for example a bridge collapse. As well as communicating with policyholders, you'll also liaise with external experts such as loss adjusters and lawyers.
Work on complex cases requires experience and expert knowledge. At this stage, you may become involved in loss adjusting activities or in legal discussions about the recovery of money from the party responsible for the loss.
A typical day in a claims handler job
A claims handler's day juggles customer empathy with investigative diligence. Mornings start with sifting through new claims, prioritising urgent cases like fire disasters or medical emergencies.
Throughout the day, you will delve into investigations, contacting policyholders and witnesses, and scrutinizing documents. Balancing complex policy terms with genuine care, you will negotiate settlements, aiming for fair resolutions while protecting the insurer's interests.
Finally, you will document every step, ensuring everything's on track for a smooth resolution. It's a challenging but rewarding mix of problem-solving, communication, and legal savvy, demanding resilience as you face both grateful policyholders and frustrated claimants.
Typical responsibilities of an insurance claims handler:
Processing new insurance claims notifications
Providing advice on making a claim and the processes involved
Collecting accurate information and documents to proceed with a claim
Analysing a claim made by a policymaker to establish whether it satisfies the policy conditions
Guiding policyholders on how to proceed with the claim
Organising immediate help, for example alternative accommodation after a fire or a motor vehicle following an accident
Identifying reasons why full payment may not be made
Explaining to policyholders when their claim is not covered
Monitoring the progress of a claim
Investigating potentially fraudulent claims
Liaising with solicitors, as well as other legal and claims professionals, and negotiate the terms of a claim
Getting advice from external specialists, such as loss adjusters and forensic accountants, on complex cases
Ensuring fair settlement of a valid claim
Ensuring the customer is treated fairly and that the customer receives service in accordance with industry and company guidelines
Handling any complaints associated with a claim
Managing all admin aspects of the claim, such as ensuring all case notes, logs and diaries are completed accurately
Adhering to legal requirements, industry regulations and customer quality standards set by the company.
What to expect when working as a claims handler
Working as an insurance claims handler in the UK offers a dynamic and intellectually challenging environment. Be prepared for a multifaceted role where analytical skills meet customer care. You'll delve into investigations, examining evidence and interviewing witnesses to assess claim validity.
Strong communication and negotiation abilities are crucial as you guide claimants through the process and reach fair settlements. Expect to juggle deadlines and manage complex paperwork, ensuring meticulous documentation for every case.
While demanding, the role offers substantial reward. You'll directly impact people's lives during vulnerable times, finding solutions that bring resolution and peace of mind. It's a career path for those who thrive on problem-solving, empathy, and a commitment to making a positive difference.
Some key points to consider about claims handler jobs:
Work can be based in an insurance office or contact centre. In some cases it may be possible to combine hybrid home and office-based work
Although office-based, there is potential to travel to visit clients, brokers and solicitors. Most work, however, is done at a desk using a computer and speaking on the phone
Jobs are available in most areas of the UK and offices are usually based in large towns and cities
Claims handler jobs involve working to tight deadlines, working under pressure, and using technology
Absence from home overnight and overseas travel is uncommon
Do I need qualifications to be a claims handler?
Entering the world of claims handling in the UK opens a door to a dynamic and intellectually stimulating career. While formal qualifications aren't always mandatory and this area of work is open to all graduates, the following qualifications can definitely give you a leg up in this competitive field:
GCSEs: Most employers require GCSEs in English and maths, ideally at grades 9-4 (A*-C). These provide a solid foundation in communication and numeracy, crucial for processing claims and understanding complex policies.
A Levels or Equivalent: While not always necessary, A Levels in subjects like business, law, or economics can demonstrate your interest in the field and give you a head start in understanding insurance concepts.
Higher Education: A degree in a relevant field like law, business, finance, or accounting can be a major asset. It showcases your analytical and problem-solving skills, vital for navigating complex claims. Consider subjects such as Accounting and/or Finance, Business Management, Economics and Accountancy , Law , Mathematics
Vocational Qualifications: Consider pursuing qualifications specific to insurance as employers often look for candidates who have, or who are willing to undertake, industry qualifications from either the Chartered Institute of Insurance (CII) or the Chartered Institute of Loss Adjusters (CILA). These demonstrate your commitment to the industry and equip you with valuable knowledge.
Graduate trainee schemes specifically covering claims are available across larger insurance companies or loss adjusting firms. There are also opportunities via general graduate management training schemes that include claims work.
It’s also possible to go directly into claims work after initial training. Opportunities are available for both graduates and those without a degree. An alternative route into claims handlers jobs is through more junior or clerical positions, such as admin assistant or technician, moving up through the company ranks by way of training and promotion.
Employers often look for candidates who have, or who are willing to undertake, industry qualifications from either the Chartered Institute of Insurance (CII) or the Chartered Institute of Loss Adjusters (CILA).
What skills do I need to be a claims handler?
Qualifications are just one piece of the puzzle when applying to claims handler jobs. A genuine interest in the insurance industry, a dedication to helping people, and a willingness to learn and grow are equally important qualities for a successful claims handling career in the UK. There is also a variety of soft and hard skills which lend themselves to building a successful career in insurance claims, such as:
Negotiation, questioning and decision-making
Planning and analysis
Communication, confidence, listening, and empathy
Administration, organisation and time management
Strategic and critical thinking
Numeracy and literacy
Attention to detail and reporting
What is the average salary for claims handler jobs in the UK?
According to Glassdoor, claims handler jobs in the UK offer a salary of around £18,000 - £24,000, with the average salary for a claims handler coming in at £22,361.
This salary estimate varies dependent on location, level of experience, and the other benefits included in the employment package, such as bonuses, holiday allowance, and travel expenses.
What does progression look like in a claims handler job?
Claims handlers in the UK, who navigate the complexities of insurance claims with a blend of problem-solving, empathy, and attention to detail, can find themselves well-positioned for a range of promising career paths.
There are opportunities to move up the management structure, either in claims or other departments. In larger company structures, claims handlers can progress to team leader, claims manager and then claims director.
As people progress, they develop their own claims portfolio and, with further experience, could find work as a claims negotiator with responsibility for more complex cases. In these roles, people negotiate with insurers, solicitors and clients before paying out any money. Depending on the nature of the company, people may also become more involved in project work, such as quality control or training.
Other possibilities include a move into loss adjusting, broking, account management, compliance, risk management, or health and safety consultancy.
There are some opportunities to work with more specialist teams, such as fraud investigators, disease and environmental claims handlers or with large case technicians. Gaining more specialised qualifications can also help claims professionals move into different niche insurance areas, such as employer or public liability.
Remember, these are just a few examples, and the specific career paths available will depend on your individual skills, interests, and qualifications. The key takeaway is that a claims handling career in the UK can be a springboard for diverse and rewarding opportunities, allowing you to leverage your expertise in various domains within the insurance industry and beyond.
Are you looking for a claims handler role or the next step in your insurance career? Maybe you're hiring for your team? Get in touch today to find out how insurance recruitment expert Mandy and the MERJE team can help.