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A 35+ year veteran of the insurance industry, Jim Sorrells has vast experience in every aspect of the business. Starting as a claims adjuster, Jim eventually grew to lead strategic decisions at both Cognizant and Farmers Insurance, where he spent 26 years within the claims organization.

Over his lengthy career, Jim has adapted to many changes in the insurance industry. Throughout the years, he’s helped his organization evolve in the wake of technological upheaval. This has left him well-prepared to navigate the rise of artificial intelligence.

His robust experience provides a unique real-world perspective that continues to help customers and prospects on a daily basis, and helps guide the development of Shift’s Insurance Decisions Platform.

Let’s start by talking about your areas of expertise. What are you most passionate about?
Over the years, I’ve gained expertise regarding every line of P&C insurance – auto, property, commercial, subrogation, med-PIP, catastrophic claims (cat-claims), and more. What I’ve learned is that even in a well-functioning organization, there’s a way to do something better. In other words you should be inherently dissatisfied with the organizational status quo.

Mostly, I’ve been concerned with breaking through the obstacles that prevent insurers from serving customers more effectively. This is always worthwhile – like during cat-claims, improvements to remove conflicts makes the insurer look like a hero. I get very passionate when I see the positive effects that insurers can have on their customers’ lives by improving their approach and engagement. 

How did you get started in insurance?
In a roundabout way. After college, I was mostly interested in commodities, and I was seeking an appointment at the Chicago Board of Trade. Since I needed a job in the meantime, I answered a newspaper ad (this was before the internet) and started in the industry as a trainee claims adjuster. I loved solving the problems inherent with claims and decided to stay within insurance.

What do you consider to be your biggest achievement?
I’m most proud of the fact that I was able to engage with some amazing talent. It’s a real privilege to hire, develop, mentor, and promote exceptional individuals. I think that my biggest accomplishment, in terms of developing a legacy, is that multiple people I have hired, mentored, and developed have had the chance to grow and lead large organizations.

I started at Farmers as a claims adjuster and was able to progress to a Senior Executive role by solving complex problems for customers. I’ve developed an immense amount of knowledge and experience on this journey that continues to fuel my passion for insurance. 

What’s different about Shift?
At Shift, we have a clear focus on Insurance - the only thing we do - and the carrier's most complex problems. The incredible ability to align third-party data with claims and policy information generates increased relevance and context in our decisions. In high volume incidents, like natural catastrophes, claim handlers need to know the loss was from the event and damages are related. Today, this is done by reviewing weather reports, checking prior losses, drone flyover footage, satellite photos and weather alters to name a few. Shift does this automatically and drives a tremendous savings in effort and claim cost management.

How can Shift help solve industry challenges?
Right now, insurance is becoming commoditized – different insurers are offering largely the same products. This makes customer experience a key differentiating factor. Having the ability to leverage contextually relevant information accelerates decisions, improves accuracy, and creates capacity for claim handlers to focus on claim outcomes and customer experience. 

Shift lets insurance companies leverage human-like AI decisions to remove obstacles and solve complex problems. One of our products lets insurers set up a self-service portal where customers can upload data about their claim, and AI automatically extrapolates the information they put in to create estimates. The solution also checks on the claim as it’s in progress – using metadata from photos to make sure that the customer is reporting damage to something they actually own.

One last note – commoditization isn’t the only challenge that’s leading insurers towards AI decisions. The industry is suffering from a dearth of new talent. Fewer people want to grow up and become claims adjusters. If there’s not enough human workforce, smart automation will be the only way for insurers to keep up with, and serve their customers.

Want to learn more about Insurance Decisioning and the positive impact it can have on your business? Download the AitéNovarica report "Intelligent Decisioning for P/C Insurance.”