Subsidence surge turns up demand for digital skills

The skills shortage that has affected almost all sectors since the pandemic has had a critical impact on subsidence insurance claims.

The sector was already depleted after a proportion of field engineers left the industry following the decision to cap indemnity in 2006, and a number of quiet years in terms of claims numbers then saw insurers downsize even further.

As such, many insurers were overwhelmed by the surge of 2018 and when the 2022 surge occurred, again pushing capacity to the limit, the recruitment challenge was laid bare.


While both surges were similar in terms of cause and volume, the industry’s reaction to each was different. Covid-19 accelerated the adoption of digital solutions and automation, and these innovations were integral in how insurers managed the more recent spike in claims volumes.

That trend is only going in one direction, and it’s likely that when the next subsidence surge comes insurers will rely on technology to an even greater degree. However, to exploit its potential it’s critical that the industry has the right people with the right skills.

Speaking at the ILC Subsidence Claims specialist event, headline sponsored by Optera Structural Solutions, Kevin Williams, Head of Subsidence & Valuations, Sedgwick, clearly articulated the growing need for digital-savvy skills.

He said, “The surges of 2018 and 2022 are very similar, but in 2022 there was much more use of digital solutions, such as live video and automation. That will increase again when we get another surge so as an industry we need to ensure we have those skills available to us. You can’t rely on just taking people from competitors. It’s more about recruiting and training new talent.”


Speaking at the same event, Nick Hill, Head of Home Claims, Aviva agreed: “There is enough expertise in the sector to handle subsidence claims now, but projecting forward we need to make sure that expertise remains there and improves and adopts new and innovative methods. We need to make sure there is a continued pipeline of people and skills.”

And, said Alex Finch, Commercial Director, Optera Structural Solutions, the time to act is now. He warned of waiting for the next surge to occur and only then seeking additional resources. He said this will lead to inexperienced handlers mismanaging subsidence claims at the outset and creating long-term problems for both the insurer and the customer.

He said, “You have to ensure you have the technical people in your business, and then ringfence them around technical claims. The people still training and developing can then handle the simple claims.”

However, the recruitment challenge is being exacerbated by the trend within the market for mergers and consolidation. William Quibell, Head of Supply Chain, Admiral, admitted it was impossible to prevent this happening, but said that consolidation inevitably reduces resources in the market.

New Generation in Claims

Addressing this issue head on, ILC’s New Generation in Claims event takes place on Wednesday 26 April at etc.venues, Manchester.

Headline sponsored by Wiser Academy, along with sponsors Carpenters, Enterprise and Zurich Insurance, the event will examine the current state of talent acquisition and retention across the sector, and highlight the likely future skillsets required within claims. Expert speakers and panellists will also share insights into what factors are at play in talent recruitment, retention and upskilling, and how an effective engagement strategy can influence positive change across business.

To secure your place at the event, click here.


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