When our customers need to claim on their policies, our regional technical claims teams are the people they turn to. From car accidents to floods, minor injuries to fatalities, they deal with a wide and varied range of claims. We talked to some of the team members in York, Bristol and Belfast about their work and why they enjoy what they do.

You must deal with a wide variety of claims. What areas do you cover?
Mark McAlister, a personal injury team leader in Belfast, explains that his team deal in any kind of injury: “That could be public liability, employer's liability, motor claims and even some disease claims within a certain value range. We have a team in Belfast dealing with international claims too, everything from illness and injury to motor accidents abroad. So, they work in lots of different jurisdictions.”

“I’m a claims handler in a small team in Belfast, dealing specifically with environmental liability claims valued up to £400,000,” says Jacqueline Jefferies. “We cover some public liability and product liability claims that don’t involve injury, too. So, a huge variety of stuff comes across our desks, and we deal directly with the policyholders, so it’s more of a customer service role than purely technical.”

“In the Claims Validation First Party team, we cover quite a lot,” says Kim Dodd, whose main role is to review and validate potentially suspicious claims. “We do anything that falls into home, commercial and motor policies. My colleagues also cover equine and injury, so there is a variety of work we can get involved in.”

“In York, we have about 40 claims handlers covering a range of areas,” says James Kilmartin. “My team deals with every type of injury claim, from very minor up to a value of £750,000, including fatalities.”

It sounds like there are a few different roles – what are they and how do you progress?
“Each team has different levels of claims handlers,” explains Mark. “Level two handlers deal with more simple, lower-value claims. Level three handlers deal with higher value, more complex claims, support the Level two handlers and get involved in project work too. Then you’ve got a team leader like me. It’s my job to help people if they want to progress by giving them opportunities or delegating projects. And there’s a senior technician, who’s the brains in the team.”

“Thank you for calling me the brains!” says Christina Rattan a personal injury senior technician in York. “I’d say my role is to support the team’s performance. So, it’s a bit of people management in terms of understanding when something might affect an individual’s performance. And it’s also about helping the team to develop by giving them opportunities. But it’s mainly about looking at high value claims, or those with the potential for big losses and reviewing performance.”

“The structure of the team helps you to develop, which is really good,” says Kim. “I have a one-to-one with my team leader every month. This gives me the chance to say if there’s anything I want to work on or move towards. We also have a mentor program, where you can be mentored by someone in a senior role, usually from a different department. And there are lots of learning and development courses as well as e-learning opportunities.”

“There are opportunities for you to gain qualifications, too,” adds Christina. “The company will always support you to get relevant qualifications if that's what you want to do.”

The teams obviously get involved in lots of different work. What do you enjoy most about it?
“It’s the variety of work I enjoy,” says James. “For instance, just today, I've dealt with two multi-vehicle collisions and a couple who got trampled by cows. So, there's always something new.” “It’s the same in my team,” says Keelan Anderson, a personal injury handler in York. “We may not get the trampling cows claims, but no two claims are identical. We do a bit of investigation as well, which can be really interesting. And the people I work with are great – we all get on well.”

When a potential fraudulent claim comes to us, I investigate it, search for information, and try to piece the puzzle together,” says Kim. “The biggest challenge is proving something has been done. It certainly keeps you on your toes because every claim is different. Being a mutual is important to me too. Because we don't have shareholders, it’s our customer’s money we save when we identify fraud. That's something I'm passionate about. Identifying fraud ensures a fair price policy for all our customers.”

“I love customer service,” says Jacqueline. “And when I was a foreign claims handler, being there for somebody in their time of need when they were stranded in another country was a huge draw. I’m also a bit of a tech head, so I love policies and investigating a claim. Now I’m in environmental liability and it’s the variety I enjoy,” she adds. “For instance, today I've got a claim where there’s a major oil spill near a borehole serving eight homes. So, I get on it straight away to try and prevent as much damage as possible. Working with solicitors, loss adjusters and environmental agencies, I just to try and make sure that everything gets covered off and nothing grows too big.”

“As a team leader, the most enjoyable aspect is seeing people move on from my team to other roles,” says Mark. “Many of the team have been promoted to Level three or Level four Claims handlers and some to senior technician roles.

How long do claims take to process?
“How long's a piece of string?” says Kim. “It's really hard to put a time limit on it because every claim is different. If it’s the accidental loss of a watch or a mobile phone, it’s really straightforward. But if you’re dealing with a fire, then it can be quite complicated, with accommodation costs, clearing the site, loss adjusters. All you can do is manage it and make sure you keep the customer up to date.”

“The value and nature of the claim dictate the time it takes to get everything settled,” says Mark. “For example, an employer's liability or public liability claim could take four or five years to settle, whereas a whiplash claim could be settled in under six months.”

“The important thing is to keep the customer informed,” James points out. “Some customers are quite happy just to know when it's all been settled. Others want to an update at every step of the process. So, it's whatever the customer prefers and how much information we need from them.”

One of the cornerstones of NFU Mutual is being a great place to work. What makes it great for you?
“In Bristol, everybody's really friendly,” says Kim. “You can literally approach anyone and have a conversation with them. Everyone's just got that same mentality that we're here for our customers, so let's get the job done the best way we can and enjoy it while we do it. Also, if you think we can do something better, just suggest it and we'll see what we can do.”

For James, it's the opportunities he’s been given. “There are lots of internal opportunities,” he points out. “So, if you've got that drive and determination, the company's more than willing to help you learn the skills and offer you a route, if that's something you want to do.”

“For me, it's just a company to be proud of,” claims Mark. “Every time you tell somebody who you work for, people say, "Oh, yeah, I know them." They’ve had experience of them, and know it's a company they can trust, who will look after them.”

Jacqueline who moved out of the NFU Mutual Agency Network after nine years to join a regional team in Belfast says “Even after all this time the work I do is so interesting, and I still agree with the company’s philosophy” “One of the main things for me is that I don’t feel like I'm just a cog in a machine,” adds Christine. “I feel like I'm cared for individually, from the one-to-ones with my team leader every month to an ad-hoc Teams message from someone in the team checking in on me, to make sure I’m okay and happy. That's just continued at every level. I still feel like there's always someone there who cares about me as a person.”

“Yes, it feels like you've always got someone to talk to,” agrees Keelan. “No matter what the issue is, you've got someone there, whether it's a team leader, a friend, or a senior technician. There's someone you can turn to who'll listen and care without judging you.”

Fancy joining the team?
Why not take a look at the opporrtunities that we've currently got available? You could find yourself working with Mark, Christina, Kim, James, Jacqueline and Keelan.