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Independent Loss Adjusters - The Origins

A Brief Historical Overview

While the descriptive title of "Chartered Loss Adjuster" has only been around since the Chartered Institute of Loss Adjusters was formed in 1961, the Institute grew out of the Association of Fire Loss Adjusters, which itself was founded in 1940, prior to which the occupation of fire loss adjuster had been pursued generally under the title of "Assessors of Fire Losses", which has appeared in trade directories since 1873.


Indeed, prior to that, individuals and partnerships involved in the "adjustment of claims" (a term which appeared in many early policies and is mentioned in the Fires Prevention Metropolis Act of 1774) had been around for many years. The actual origins of loss adjusting is perhaps rather clouded in uncertainty, although one firm was able to trace its origins back to 1790 when one James Toplis first appeared in the books of the Upholder's company and, some years later in 1811, was appointed by the Sun Fire Office as "Surveyor of Stock to the Society".


However, the loss adjusting profession, as we know it today, generally grew from local independent surveying and claims/loss adjusting practices in the second half of the 20th century. Often partnerships owned by a few senior and experienced men, they were highly respected professional practitioners as well as businessmen. Many of them were instrumental in forming the organisation that became the Chartered Institute of Loss Adjusters that received its Royal Charter in 1961. The ethics of these adjusters were a vital component in the granting of this charter.


In response to the demands of insurers for national coverage, consistency in service standards and predictability of fees there was a consolidation through the sixties and seventies that saw many of the smaller adjusting practices merge or be taken over to form large national companies, so that by the mid nineties there were only a few major national loss adjusting companies covering the UK with 90% of the market, and a few niche adjusters with specialist markets.


Some of the “niche” adjusters have since grown and expanded their areas of expertise such that, today, there is again a wide variety of loss adjusting companies extending from the sole practitioner, through the small specialised company and the larger national loss adjusting and surveying practices, up to the largest multi-national organisations.


All have their strengths and benefits, but in November 2009, a number of the more specialised loss adjusting practices decided to form the Independent Loss Adjusters Association in order to advance the interests of its members by promoting the ethical principles by which they conduct their activities; the fair treatment of all parties in the insurance claims process; and their specialist skills. The Association also seeks to encourage co-operation between members for their mutual benefit and to assist in the education and training of aspiring loss adjusters in ways that do not detract from their members’ financial independence or competitiveness.



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