Last month, CILA members unanimously voted to elect Helena Evans as their President for the year ahead.
Helena is Head of Specialist Services at Criterion, a Charles Taylor company specialising in High Net Worth, Fine Art & Specie and residential Real Estate claims. She has developed a particular expertise in High-Net-Worth Real Estate and established a reputation for her delicate handling of cases, particularly those involving vulnerable customers or VIPs.
The Chartered Institute of Loss Adjusters (CILA), turning 60 this year, is a globally recognised membership organisation for claims professionals. The Institute sets the professional and ethical standards for those who work in claims through its qualification framework and guide to professional conduct.
We recently asked Helena about her plans as the new President of the Institute.
What are you most looking forward to as President?
Being elected as President is such a surreal honour. I started my career in Adjusting not quite believing my luck that, at nineteen, I had even been given the opportunity to become an adjuster, especially as a female in what was back then a very male-dominated profession.
I am hoping this gives me the opportunity to make a real difference and inspire people like my younger self to become Adjusters and progress with their qualifications. From the outside, it may seem impossible to move into the profession, especially as Adjusters are held in such high regard in the insurance industry. I returned to Adjusting after becoming a mother with three small children and only at that point decided to qualify; I want to show others that anything is possible when you set your mind to it.
What initiatives are you looking to champion this year?
As President this year I would like to focus on continuing to promote to the market the benefits of appointing adjusters and to promote the importance of our qualifications to members. I want to encourage a more diverse range of individuals in the profession, particularly reaching out to the younger generation.
By targeting the young, we can ensure that we continue to maintain our pool of qualified adjusters as senior adjusters retire. We are looking to reach out to young people, speaking in schools to encourage social mobility – we want to relay the message that you don’t need to be at graduate level to progress in a career in this field; it is possible to start from A Levels. The Government Trailblazer Apprenticeships scheme assists here as it allows people to begin studying and taking exams from school age. The e-mentoring programme, created by the CILA Future Focus Group, also benefits the younger generation as it enables experienced adjusters to pass on crucial skills and guidance.
I am an active member of the Women in CILA group, which champions the progression of CILA qualifications amongst women. I was inspired when Candy Holland, the first female president, signed my certificate the year I qualified in 2014. Candy realised that only 4% of those qualifying were women and decided to set up Women in CILA in 2015. Now almost 50% of newly qualified Associates are women; however, this must embed further across the full spectrum of insurance and society. Women in CILA hosts webinars that are open to everybody and not just about female-related topics. We also assist with any Diversity & Inclusion work within the Institute.
I am also chairing the D&I Task Force whose goals are to tackle D&I issues and highlight any barriers within the Institute. We have been working this year on more inclusive access to exams for people with disabilities. This includes comfort aids, changing font sizes, time allowances, and online proctoring. We are also making qualifications more accessible and inclusive by giving adjusters qualifying overseas or in non-chartered firms the opportunity to gain Chartered Loss Adjuster status.
What are the benefits of getting involved with CILA?
CILA sets the professional and ethical standards for those who work in claims through both its qualification framework and guide to professional conduct.
It therefore encourages progression; it is a place to learn within the highly recognised standard set for all professionals working in claims. As a member, you can develop your claims knowledge through technical qualifications. Outside of the qualifications themselves, there are also regular webinars and seminars (a mix of virtual and in-person) and a library of resources at your fingertips to further your learning and take the next steps in your career.
CILA have worked over the last few years at splitting up the exams into separate levels so that it is now possible to obtain letters after your name for each stage of the process rather than historically only once you reached chartered status. This has encouraged so many more members to sit their exams and made it feel a more achievable, tackling each set of exams whilst being able to showcase the benefits as you go along.
What upcoming challenges do you anticipate for the industry?
Since the Covid-19 pandemic it is difficult to now predict anything, that was such an unprecedented worldwide event that affected us all. What I would say though is adjusters are used to dealing with disaster situations, and dealing with challenges. Despite the changes in adjusting over the years there are two constants that never change, and this is our technical expertise and people skills. In fact, the pandemic has shown that nothing can ever truly replace the human touch. Whilst this period has highlighted the benefits of developing digitally, with virtual visits etc., it has also magnified the need for adjusters out on site.
And it is these skills I believe that makes us ready to adapt to any challenge we are presented with.