Many insurance carriers promote their ability to provide better customer service than their competitors, but Erie Insurance, a regional carrier located in its namesake
Pennsylvania city, has taken steps to do more than just
brag about their service.
Erie opened what it calls a technical learning center
in January and the 52,000 sq. ft. structure is dedicated
solely to service delivery for the carrier’s agents and
policyholders. The concept was born out of Erie’s desire
and corporate model to be above all in service, according to Chip Dufala, executive vice president, services,
“As we’ve continued to grow as an organization we’ve
come to the realization we can’t keep doing things the
way we’ve always done them,” he says. “The technical
learning center reflects our future. We recognized we
had to continue to be in the forefront so we made this
Erie essentially built a four-story home within the
structure, using more than 400 building materials and
200 claims scenarios. On the material damage side, 14
bays were built with state-of-the-art collision equip-
ment, paint, and alignment, according to Dufala.
The insurer also recognized the need for a better understanding of crash avoidance systems that are coming
online on the auto side as well as the smart home and
how that technology and construction materials have
evolved and changed.
“Five years from now the pace of change will be even
greater than it is today,” says Dufala.
The technical learning center is used for Erie’s
property adjusting staff and material damage adjusters
for the auto side. Dufala explains the purpose is simply
to provide great service to agents, policyholders, and
claimants once the adjusting staff is trained. Erie predominantly uses its own adjusters, with a total of about
900 serving the company in 12 states and the District of
The insurer occasionally uses independent adjusters
at times of catastrophe, according to Dufala, but over 95
percent of Erie’s claims are handled by a staff adjuster.
Dufala also pointed out Erie has its own Cat team in
Every two weeks, Erie brings in about 32 staff adjusters for the training program in the technical learning
center—half are on the auto side and the other half
on the property side. Over the next two years, Dufala
reports every Erie claims handler will run through this
first module at the technical learning center.
“We are so committed to this and excited about the
outcomes we have seen that we recently decided to return to our roots and our smart-start training program,”
Erie will have a swing shift in the facility and take
brand-new adjusters and bring them to Erie on a 50/50
training program—50 percent of their time will be in
the technical learning center and the other half in the
field, according to Dufala. That program will run from 4
p.m. to midnight to better leverage the facility.
“We believe in this so much we’re going to take
young men and women, including veterans just re-
Pennsylvania-based P&C carrier built a technical learning center
to improve the work of claims adjusters and provide better
service for its customers.
By Robert Regis Hyle
TRAINING CRITICAL TO