Honoring Women in Our Industry
At Adjusters International, we have seen a significant increase in the number of women who are interested in entering the fields of public adjusting and disaster recovery. These women who join the Adjusters International team bring with them a vested interest the recovery and well-being of our clients. In honor of Women's History Month, we interviewed several women on our staff regarding their jobs as public adjusters and disaster recovery consultants, as well as the experiences they have had in these roles, and asked them to provide expert advice to other women interested in joining the industry.
Our public adjusters represent the interests of the policyholder following an insured loss. When a fire, earthquake, hurricane, tornado, flood, or any type of natural or man-made disaster damages a property, a public adjuster is there to level the playing field between the policyholder and the insurance company. They assess the claim and serve as the policyholder's advocate throughout the insurance claims settlement process. Our disaster recovery consultants work with local communities and government entities after a disaster to secure funding through FEMA Public Assistance grant program.
Kimberly Sekol is a Senior Disaster Recovery Consultant for Adjusters International. Kimberly has over 15 years of experience in the appraisal and construction industries. Her disaster experience comes from events such as Hurricane Sandy, the BP Oil Spill, Hurricane Ike, and the severe storms and flooding in New York State in 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2011.
1.) Briefly describe your job: Working in the disaster recovery consulting arena, my job is to work with our clients, in whatever capacity necessary to prepare for natural disasters, as well as maximize and expedite financial recovery following a disaster event.
2.) How has the disaster recovery consulting industry changed over time in regards to gender equality? When I entered the industry nearly nine years ago it was a predominantly male profession. Slowly over this time period, I have seen more women enter the field. I look forward to seeing further change within the industry as women are recognized for their accomplishments and move into more leadership and executive roles.
3.) What is the most satisfying part of your job? The most satisfying part of my job is utilizing my expertise to develop successful strategies for overcoming difficult challenges that result in positive financial outcomes for our clients.
4.) What is your most memorable experience on the job? Each of my disaster experiences has offered unique memorable moments — from seeing the total devastation a hurricane or flooding can cause, to guiding a client through a successful financial recovery such as getting a negative determination reversed, and seeing the rebuilding associated with those wins.
5.) What advice can you give women entering the disaster recovery field? While work within the industry can at times be difficult, it can also be one of the greatest opportunities to work in an ever-changing field that offers the opportunity to experience something different and exciting with each new assignment. Certainly the satisfaction of helping communities recover from a disaster can be very rewarding.
Blair Beneke is a Licensed Public Adjuster and Professional Loss Consultant for Adjusters International's Austin, Texas office. Blair joined AI in December of 2013 and has proven to be a quality asset to our team.
1.) Briefly describe your job: I head up the marketing, public relations, and social media efforts for our office. I assist in managing the files of open claims. I'm out in the field learning the estimating process. Needless to say, no two days are alike.
2.) How has the public adjusting industry changed over time in regards to gender equality? I have only been in the industry a little over a year, so it would be hard for me to gauge that. I am optimistic though that the number of women who are licensed public adjusters will continue to increase. Within the past year I have had many interactions with women consultants and engineers.
3.) What is the most satisfying part of your job? Helping the insured is very rewarding. In today's claim's environment, the insurance company's adjuster and his or her team of consultants put the insured at a big disadvantage. This is a constant reminder that our job as public adjusters is more important than ever.
4.) What is your most memorable experience on the job? Appropriately for Women's History Month, my first client (and most interesting thus far) was a pioneer for women in the New York financial markets. She had a very severe fire in her home in Austin, Texas. I handled the inventory and pricing of the contents portion of the claim. Not only did I learn a lot about our business, but I also learned a great deal about women in the workplace from a truly independent woman.
5.) What advice can you give women entering the public adjusting field? Like any new position or line of work, patience with the learning curve is important. Especially in this industry you never stop learning. The basics are always a good place to start too — hard work, trial and error, and having a good teacher. And don't forget your flashlight.
Eden Glasser is a Senior General Adjuster and Residential Contents Division Supervisor at Globe Midwest Adjusters International. Eden has been with our team as a licensed Public Adjuster since 1994. Her main focus is luxury residential property claims and business personal property losses.
1.) Briefly describe your job: I am an Adjuster for the insured specializing in preparing contents claims for large loss residential clients and business personal property claims for commercial losses. I typically represent homeowners in catastrophic losses. My role is to guide the insured through the entire claims process from beginning to end. I first assess the loss and needs of the client along with reviewing their insurance policy. Next, I work with the insured to determine housing needs in order to make them as comfortable as possible while repairs are made to their home. Then, I prepare a plan of action for the entire contents claim. This process may include bringing in specialty restoration vendors, coordinating and overseeing the entire inventory process, along with the preparation, submission and ultimately settlement of our client's contents claim.
2.) How has the public adjusting industry changed over time in regards to gender equality? I think some adjusters still have the "good ol' boys" mentality but I believe women have become more widely accepted and respected overall in the insurance industry. I also believe the industry is realizing how effective women can be in this field. When I started 20 years ago, I was the only full-time woman adjuster amongst all male adjusters. Today, Globe Midwest Adjusters international's office alone has developed and employed five female public adjusters, along with a large support staff comprised mostly of women.
3.) What is the most satisfying part of your job? The most satisfying part of my job is the moment my clients have that "Ah ha!" moment where they tell me, "I don't know what I would have done without you!" This job is not easy, and a good settlement takes patience, time and persistence. Knowing that I played a major role in helping put their lives back together and guided them through what may have been one of the most difficult times in their life is always rewarding.
4.) What is your most memorable experience on the job? Over the years I have had many memorable clients and experiences. I have worked with all types of clients from the average homeowner to "celebrities." After a property loss, they are all just regular people facing a difficult time in their lives. I think the experience that may stand out the most is when, at the end of the claim, my client gave me a Humpty Dumpty statue and said "Thanks for putting my life back together."
5.) What advice can you give women entering the public adjusting field? I would encourage any woman who is willing to put in time and hard work, and doesn't mind getting their hands a little dirty, to explore this unique field. Women bring many invaluable skills to this field unlike any other profession. Our industry offers not only tremendous diversity in the job itself, but I also believe this job has unlimited career and growth potential for those willing to work hard. The more you learn and understand not only about the property insurance business, but also your role as a Public Adjuster, the better you can serve your clients and the more successful you will become.
Luanne Principe is a Senior Disaster Recovery Manager for Adjusters International. Luanne joined the AI team in 2006 and has experience with the construction industry, as well as a thorough knowledge of FEMA's Hazard Mitigation program.
1.) Briefly describe your job: As a Senior Disaster Recovery Manager, I manage staff, client expectations, budgets and scheduling, as well as provide subject matter and expert professional advisory services. We are 'working' managers. We take on the same duties to our clients as the Senior Disaster Recovery Consultants with the additional tasks mentioned above.
2.) How has the disaster recovery consulting industry changed over time in regards to gender equality? More and more I have seen and worked with female Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) staff. In addition, I have also had the opportunity to write for AI's Disaster Recovery Today publication, sharing my knowledge of the Mitigation Measures and the FEMA Public Assistance program.
3.) What is the most satisfying part of your job? Watching the client learn about the funding available through the FEMA Public Assistance Program and then standing up to FEMA requesting what they now know to be eligible activities. It is also satisfying helping those whom FEMA has initially denied but then getting them to see how in fact, the project may be eligible. Proposing and receiving additional mitigation funding that the client did not expect can also be joyous. In the end, creating professional relationships all around the country with folks from Texas to North Dakota, who are all a pleasure to work with, is most valuable.
4.) What is your most memorable experience on the job? Working for the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey and having the chance to help World Trade Center Tower One and the Memorial/Museum get back to pre-disaster condition was both challenging and memorable.
5.) What advice can you give women entering the disaster recovery field? We have good days and crazy days. Some days are trying and some days are successful — we learn to choose our battles and the consequences; some good, some bad. Most days this job is rewarding. Standing up for the little guy versus large governmental bureaucracy is priceless.