Claims Adjuster Comes Full Circle
Rich Cunningham, a Senior Claims Adjuster in north central Kansas, has worked at Farmers Alliance for close to 40 years. Starting on September 1st, 1982, Rich began his career working as a Claims Adjuster.
“A lot has changed over the years,” said Cunningham. “I started out with no cell phone or computer. We used Polaroid 320 cameras and recorders that required a record for recording. I made sure I kept a paper grocery sack in my company car as a trash can for all of the carbon paper! I can remember taking the film off of the polaroid pictures after it had developed and having to be really careful not to get it on myself, or it would take the color out of my clothes.”
Cunningham also mentioned, “During those days, we had to know where every pay phone was in those small towns, in case we ever needed to get ahold of someone quickly. Things were more laid back and your word was given by a handshake.”
During his time at Farmers Alliance, Rich has driven 21 company cars, logging almost 1.5 million miles, gone through five company presidents, and has had nine regional managers.
“I have also worked with five different Vice Presidents of Claims.” he said. “One thing that always stays the same at Farmers Alliance is the agency workforce and a dedicated group of employees taking care of our insureds.”
Rich had mentioned he wanted to leave a piece of advice for future Claims Adjusters. He commented, “Be compassionate. Be TIMELY. Have broad shoulders. Some people will lash out and it has nothing to do with you or FAMI. They are just stressed out. It’s our job to help ease that stress.”
“I can remember working long, hard days, only to get a phone call about a house fire that took the entire house and created a total loss. I was still in the area, so I drove there and was able to give that family a check to get clothes and a hotel for the evening. I made it before the firetrucks left. I can’t tell you what it meant to help that family. It’s how I built relationships with all of my insureds and agents throughout the years.”
When asked about what one thing he will take with him after his time working with Farmers Alliance, Rich made sure to mention his insureds and agents.
“There’s a lot of good people out there. The common belief when working with claims adjusters is that everyone is there to rip you off. I learned that that’s not at all true. Accidents happen and bad things happen to good people. Most people have had something unfortunate happen to them at some point in their lives. I’m glad to be of service.”
“Everyone I deal with has had something go wrong. I am always dealing with conflict. I had to learn to deal with it and try to stay calm in those situations. Let people show their frustrations and anger. I have learned how to help them and I find it a privilege to be there in times of crisis,” he said.
As the end of his career winds down, Rich had a very unique claim land on his desk. Richard “Dick” Foulke, former Vice President of Human Resources for Farmers Alliance, had a hail storm on May 26th, 2021 that damaged his house. Foulke had hired Rich at FAMI, over 40 years ago.
“I had a chance to thank Dick for hiring me many years before, and now I had a chance to work his claim. Dick and I had a chance to visit and talk about the old days. My job just came “full circle” from being hired on September 1, 1982 to retiring on September 3, 2021. What a GREAT CAREER, Farmers Alliance Mutual Insurance is the best!”