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An Interview With Andi Shaffer

Andi Shaffer came to the claims adjusting side of the insurance business the usual way…she was aiming for an entirely different target.  She grew up the oldest of four children in a sports-oriented family in Big Bear, CA and headed to Chico State to study to be a physical education teacher and a coach.  She loves all sports but particularly excelled at volleyball.  That seems an anomaly for such a diminutive person unless of course, you catch that glint of determination and a hint of competitive spirit in her open grin.  

She married after college and moved to Sacramento with a baby and a job with Liberty Mutual as the office manager for a sales office that specialized in life insurance.  She loved the work but as offices began closing she was offered the opportunity to move into the claims field. 

What is the best part of her career?  “The people” she answers simply.  “I love being able to help them through a traumatic situation.  I have to earn their trust by carefully communicating to them what needs to happen; it’s the key to doing the job well in my opinion.  I sympathize with their condition but more importantly I reassure them by carefully listing the steps that will occur so that there are no surprises.  I do this as many times as necessary until I’m sure that we are on the same page and they have no further questions.  I believe in being pro-active so I get the appropriate help for them started and keep the policyholders informed as to what we’re assessing and why.” 

“My co-workers are a big part of why I love my job” Andi went on “Mark Schmidl is the best partner I could have wished for.  He was instrumental in my training and makes himself available for help with problems any time. Mark and I back each other up and I never have a worry that things won’t be taken care properly when he’s helping; that’s a huge load off of my mind.  Mike O’Malley is so encouraging.  He is always willing to ride along to offer a critique so that I can improve.  I feel that I have much to learn and I am learning every day in a supportive atmosphere.”

‘The vendors that I have grown to trust are very helpful to me.  We share the customer and the outcome so they are an integral part of my team to get the people back to a comfortable situation.  I have learned a lot from the vendors I rely on” Andi stated firmly “there are a great many service providers out there and I have learned who will best take care of my policyholders.” 

“Have you noticed that my cell phone hasn’t rung?  That’s because I have taken as much time as necessary to communicate with the insured and the vendors on my files and not because I don’t have a lot of open files.  I can’t stress enough how transparency can shorten the circle of questions that can happen if you don’t cover all of the bases in the initial stages of the claim.”   

“I love that I am in control of my own time even though that means sometimes that I work a lot longer than I would if I was in an office environment.  The relationships that have developed because of this job are a great reward as is the sense of doing something really important.”

When Andi has free time she reports that she, her husband Rick and their lion-hearted little dog, Josie love to head out in their RV.  “There are no distractions then” Andi says “and it is really important to disconnect from the world occasionally.”  “We are empty nesters but any one of our 4 fabulous kids is likely to be around at any time.  It keeps things interesting.” 

by Joan Barrett -

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