Beginning to end

At Work

Insurance-claims representative takes customers from the accident report to settlement

Working

June 27, 2007|By Nancy Jones-Bonbrest | Nancy Jones-Bonbrest,Special to the Sun

Anthony Barnes

Claims representative

Progressive Insurance, Owings Mills

Salary --$46,000

Age --25

Years on the job --Two

How he got started --After graduating with a business management degree, Barnes placed his resume on careerbuilder.com, an online employment-listing site, and was contacted by a corporate recruiter.

Typical day --Barnes works with Progressive customers who are involved in an insurance claim after an accident, vehicle theft or vandalism. He must investigate the claim to determine who is at fault, if the claim is valid and work out a settlement. He usually is assigned three to five new claims each day and says a typical claim will take about two weeks. A large part of his day is spent on the phone. "You get quite a few calls each day. People are usually pretty flustered after being in an accident. You want to make sure you return their calls as quickly as possible."

Face to face --His time is split between the office and the field. The sport utility vehicle he drives to investigate claims is equipped with a computer, printer and phone. He can meet customers at a location of their choosing and print a check, handing it directly to them.

Investigations --Barnes handles a claim from beginning to end. He is responsible for inspecting the vehicle and determining what is paid to the insured. Accidents are typically not reported to the police unless someone is injured, so in many cases he must also determine fault. He interviews those involved and looks over the vehicles involved to inspect for damage. "The car typically tells the story of what happened in the accident."

How he deals with difficult customers --"Empathy," Barnes says. "It's a nerve-racking experience."

The good --"I get to help people who are in a frantic state of mind." Also, he adds that the job is far from monotonous, something he enjoys.

The bad --Barnes said it's inevitable that someone will be unhappy about the results in determining who is responsible in an accident. "A lot of times people get upset. You know it's not your fault, so you have to let them vent."

Tips when dealing with an accident --Barnes said he suggests people carry a disposable camera in their car so they can take photographs of any vehicle damage and people involved. After an accident, make sure you get as much information as possible, including a license number, driver's license number, name, telephone number and address.

Philosophy on the job --"Make [customers] feel like they've never been in an accident."

Nancy Jones-Bonbrest Special to The Sun

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