Brookeley Akers will be the first to tell you: the auto claims adjuster role at Progressive is unlike any other job here. For one thing, your car is your office.
What makes this job unique?
We’re super mobile. Our car is kind of like our home away from home. We do have an assigned office and may occasionally go in, but for the most part, we’re working from our vehicle, going wherever we’re needed within our territory.
Brookeley has since been promoted into a supervisory role in our Claims group, but she still looks back on her time as a claims adjuster as one of the best experiences she’s had in a job.
What was a typical day like?
My territory was in the Midwest, so most of my workdays started and ended at home. I found out each morning what new assignments had come in and would plan out my day based on those details. Some days that meant meeting with a customer right away or visiting a body shop first, other days I might be driving to a tow yard first thing. I’d always be in the same general geographical area though.
A lot of my customer touch points were over the phone—maybe 10-20 calls a day. And I’d usually make five or six stops each day at various body shops. I’d say my total daily drive time was often around two to three hours, but that can vary quite a bit depending upon where you live and what geographical area you’re assigned.
What skills helped you succeed in the role?
Claims adjusters write estimates on damaged vehicles and settle total losses with customers. It’s important to be able to negotiate and manage a good working relationship with the body shops that you go into on a day-to-day basis. You need to have good conflict resolution skills. There are always assessments to be made about the damage: Is it or isn’t it related to the accident? Should this part be repaired, or should it be replaced? Based on all the gathered information, writing accurate estimates falls 100% on us as adjusters. We must be able to make decisions in a timely manner, since we have so many customers we need to see in a day.
How did you get started as an adjuster?
I started as a representative in our Central Claims Unit. I was the first touch point a customer had when calling to report a claim. From there, I moved into the adjuster role. I really fell in love with the world of claims. It’s a fast-paced environment and every day is different. I was an adjuster for over seven years. I hadn’t originally planned to stay in the role that long, but I just loved it!
Did you come into Progressive with insurance experience?
No. And I certainly didn’t have any experience with cars, assessing damage or anything like that. My first impression of Progressive was how great the training department is. We have a really great training center where there are wrecked vehicles, and you go through training to learn how to write estimates according to our safety standards. Our trainers truly do walk you through everything you'll need to know in order to succeed at your job.
What are some challenges as an adjuster?
The most common challenge that I often experienced was working with different types of personalities and needing to compromise. Ultimately, everyone’s goal is the same—to get the customer's car fixed and back in their driveway as quickly as possible. Putting the customer’s needs first is important in this role.
Autonomy can also be challenging at times. Adjusters have to be self-starters and have the ability to solve their own problems; make judgement calls and get things resolved quickly. We don’t always have the opportunity to consult with our managers before needing to make decisions.
What are the rewarding aspects?
Progressive, and especially Claims, is all about customer service and helping people in the event of a natural disaster or an accident. The most rewarding part about this position is that you’re able to help people and get them back on the road.
As a claims adjuster here, you can also volunteer to help with catastrophe duty. You’re given the opportunity to travel all over the country helping customers affected by weather-related events and natural disasters. I did that for about 10 years and met so many awesome people. It was really rewarding—our customers are so thankful we’re there to help them as quickly as possible.
What’s next for you?
I figured that one day I would probably go back to a more traditional desk job. I absolutely loved being in my car all day with the scenery changing around me. It was such a wonderful experience. But there are so many great opportunities at Progressive to grow; to develop and chase your career goals. These days I’m a supervisor in our Central Claims Unit, and I’m loving the new challenges and rewards that come with learning something new. Who knows where my career will go next, but I'm definitely a lifer at Progressive.