I am part of the ‘Women in CILA’ group which was formed in 2015 and was inspired by the appointment of Candy Holland as the first female President of the CILA. The group takes positive action to address the current gender imbalance in CILA qualification progression. There are currently only 72 female Chartered Loss Adjusters in the world.
I am proud to say the companies I have worked for have encouraged female progression. I hope that my career story will show other women that it is possible in a traditionally male dominated profession to succeed as a woman.
I started Loss Adjusting in 1991 at the distant age of 19. At that time there were very few female adjusters. I would attend conferences that were a sea of men in suits. Being so young and female, I was lucky in such a male dominated profession to be given the opportunity by my first manager. What apparently caught his interest was that I managed to persuade him to put forward my interview date, a first sign of skills required by a Loss Adjuster - negotiation.
The tools of the trade were slightly more primitive in those days ...... a map ( that used to fall off the front seat of the car if you braked too fast ) coins for the phone box to call a policyholder if you were running late, letters, an ‘Argos’ catalogue for contents validation, walking to the chemist to collect your photographs to stick on your report, the dreaded urgent FAX ... with finally the bolt from the blue when you walked into the office to be hit with the file that had 'kicked off' whilst you were out.
But despite the introduction of Sat Nav’s, laptops, digital photos, smartphones, virtual visits, the dreaded urgent email and ‘twitter’, the art of adjusting is still the same. It is the ability to communicate with people, using your soft skills to deal with the different types of individuals you meet so that you form a relationship of trust.
The best part to me about loss adjusting is the visit, you never know until they open that door how the policyholder will react, what their house is like, no one claim is ever the same.
I was lucky enough three years after I had started adjusting to assist on a CAT team in Antigua for six weeks in the aftermath of Hurricane Luis. Driving all over the devastated island on my own helping the locals in the villages was one of the best 'work' experiences I have had.
Becoming a working Mum
After 7 years of loss adjusting, I left to start my family. I became a ‘stay at home mum’ and did not envisage that having had children that there would be the flexibility in such a male dominated profession to return to work.
However, I contacted an ex colleague with his own company and was given the opportunity to start contract adjusting initially, one or two claims a week and managed to fit this in around being 'mummy' which helped regain my confidence. I then recognised I could maybe continue my career.
During the surge of winter 2010/2011 I was offered a full – time, six month contract which was a perfect opportunity to decide whether I could cope with ‘full on’ loss adjusting whilst bringing up three children. I was very lucky that my manager at the time offered me flexible working hours if necessary, on the understanding I made up the time in the evening.
I loved it. I got my confidence back and enjoyed being with colleagues. I was then offered a permanent job. At this point I felt as if I was starting a new chapter of my life and getting my career back.
Qualifying as a Chartered Loss Adjuster
I then decided I wanted to qualify. At the time, a few months into a full time job with a 5, 8 and 11 year old I did question my crazy decision to study, but I persevered and passed all three ACILA papers, just leaving the dissertations and final interview to complete.
Following a move to Davies I plucked up the courage to finally write my seven dissertations. Shortly after starting these I was suddenly taken ill and had a year of three major surgical procedures, but this made me even more determined to complete my qualification.
I returned to work to a promotion into the Private Clients and Major Loss unit and then applied to sit my final CILA interview. It was one of the most nerve wracking days of my life, but worth it for the feeling of relief when I passed. I felt so proud to finally be a Chartered Loss Adjuster and use those initials …. ACILA
Since then I have been lucky enough to be promoted through various senior positions at Davies, most recently Head of Major Loss and Private Clients before recently joining Criterion in my current role as Head of Specialist Services. I also now chair the CILA HNW and Specie SIG and am honoured to be a member of the CILA council.
I love my job and its varied role, dealing with a portfolio of complex often VIP claims, developing client relationships and now in my current role having the opportunity to help develop the Specialist Services division within Criterion.
I hope my career story so far ( with more to come ) shows that it is possible as a woman to return to work as a Loss Adjuster, having had a family, to qualify and progress into senior roles. If I can do it.... anyone can!
Helena Evans ACILA FIFAA
Head of Specialist Services
Criterion Adjusters Ltd