Geico's job fair draws a crowd to Pittsburgh

Insurance company expanding in state

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Greg King, who graduated earlier this year from the University of Virginia, drove to Pittsburgh this week to apply for a job as an auto damage adjuster for insurance company Geico.

"Insurance generally helps people," Mr. King said Tuesday as he sat filling out the forms and waiting for his interview to see if he has the right stuff to judge dented SUVs and smashed sedans. "I feel like that's important in a career."

He wasn't alone.

The meeting room at the Double Tree Hotel in Green Tree Tuesday was packed with people dressed in suits and ties, holding resumes and briefcases looking to land a job.

The Washington, D.C.-based company is holding two job fairs this week -- one in Pittsburgh Tuesday and one in Philadelphia that will take place on Thursday.

As the company continues to expand in the state, representatives said they have a real need for auto insurance adjusters, particularly in the two largest cities in Pennsylvania.

"We're looking to hire as many people as possible," said Anthony Blake, the manager of employment services at Geico.

The company hoped to hire -- at a minimum -- 10 or 12 people from Tuesday's job fair, Mr. Blake added. The job fair ran from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

By mid-morning, 19 people had already signed up to interview for a position.

Geico is one of the 10 largest companies providing private passenger auto insurance in Pennsylvania, based on a market share report that considered direct premiums provided by the state Insurance Department.

The company been pushing hard to grow, which may explain the big recruiting drive. "Geico has been very aggressive in its advertising," said Steven Weisbart, senior vice president and chief economist of the Insurance Information Institute, an industry group based in New York.

He speculated that as the baby boom generation retires, job opportunities may be opening up in industries like insurance.

The new generation could respond well to industry changes that have meant a career in claims adjusting increasingly requires knowledge of technology.

The Insurance Information Institute's most recent report, released earlier in July, found that claims adjusting employment remained flat at 50,800 nationally, but qualified that statement by saying demand for claims employment probably slipped as work related to the damage caused by Superstorm Sandy ended. The storm hit the East Coast last October.

Gus Karalagas, vice president of the Pittsburgh claims association, has noticed that there are more job opportunities in the Pittsburgh area in auto insurance than in property insurance.

Auto damage adjusters are the people that get called after car accidents or other mishaps that damage vehicles. They evaluate accident damage, help adjust insurance claims and access the cost of the damage.

Geico's website says auto damage insurance adjusters will receive a competitive salary and, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of May 2012, the mean salary for adjusters, examiners and investors in the United States was $61,530.

One perk of the job is that it gets people out of the office. "They're the face of Geico," Mr. Blake said. "They are the actual person that people meet face-to-face."

Those hired will undergo a 12-week training program, which includes four weeks at the Geico Auto Damage School in McLean, Va. The applicants Tuesday first filled out an application and were then asked to take tests on things like reading comprehension and spacial visualization.

That was followed by an interview. The job requirements include a high school diploma, customer service, grammar and mechanical skills -- as well as a good driving record.

Applicants will know within a few days if they were selected, Mr. Blake said.

One of the hopefuls, Don Longo, who recently graduated from Slippery Rock University, said that for him, as for most sitting in the meeting room waiting for an interview, the job would be a welcome change.

"It's something different," Mr. Longo said.

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