#IAlife*

What is it like to be an independent adjuster who works all the cat deployments they want every year, and maybe has a fun hobby side hustle they do in their downtime?

What does it look like on the other side of all of the chaos, dead-ends, false-starts, expensive gear, and even more expensive training that has no guarantee of getting you anywhere? 

All of the headaches you encounter getting started are just a bootcamp for what's to come.  Because if you can navigate your way through all of this getting-started stuff, if you can pick yourself up and dust yourself off when you get knocked on your rear (and you WILL get knocked on your rear), if you can set your jaw and grit your teeth and really put your shoulder into this - and just not take no for an answer - then you'll be the kind of person who will do very well as an Independent Adjuster.

I've been a field adjuster for 20 years. 

19 of those years it was as an IA and one as a staff adjuster.  I didn't start out as a staffer, like so many folks do.  But instead, in late 2016, my wife and I decided to plant ourselves in one place so that we could have better access to our fertility doc.  

But after some frustration getting pregnant, we moved on and I left my staff position after a year.  Very soon after that, I founded AdjusterTV.

And AdjusterTV was something that I had been thinking about and dreaming about for a long time.  It's just one of those things - nothing will happen until you take the some action, right?

So I've been not taking no with ATV for going on 2 years now.  And you know where that NO comes from?  It comes from me.

In the form of:  

  • Procrastination

  • Not believing that AdjusterTV will help anybody or that anybody will even watch

  • Not believing that I can truly add value to our industry

  • Wondering if all of the long hours and late nights will ever add up to anything 

Ironically, it's my career as a cat property adjuster that has actually made AdjusterTV possible.  If I had a regular 9 to 5 job that I had to show up to year round, I would never have had the downtime between cat deployments that I really needed to get the foundation for AdjusterTV built.

Everything I’ve had to do building AdjusterTV I also had to do in building my career as an adjuster.

You know, video is a passion of mine.  I love the gear, the storytelling, the technical side of it, and the people side of it.

It’s what also draws me to claims.

So for me, one of the greatest things about being a cat IA is that I can explore my personal passions - in depth and with extra money if I need it - on the side.  In the off-season, I can travel and shoot video and hone my craft so that I can actually make money with it on the side if I want to.

And I can live wherever in the country I want to.


Everything you need to know about getting started as an Independent Adjuster, in one 40 minute video. Check it out!

 
 

It wasn't always like this though.  When I got started I made some pretty serious mistakes that held me back from getting on first call lists for years longer than it should have.

  • I didn't network. This alone would have made a massive difference in the number of deployments I received early in my career. I didn't go to my first adjuster conference until 2012 and that was the Xactware Elevate user conference. I didn't do a ridealong with any adjusters when I got started, which would have been invaluable for me to see how a good adjuster gets things done AND to make friends with more experienced adjusters who could give me the inside track on deployments and other opportunities. Which is the heart of networking.

    • For AdjusterTV AND as an independent adjuster, I'm attending at least one good conference a year going forward.

  • I didn't get deeper training in damage ID and construction. The quality of my early files wasn't the best. I was getting dinged for missing damage, for paying for stuff that WASN'T damaged, and for writing incomplete estimates because I just didn't know what drip edge was or if drywall texture can be spot repaired or not.

  • I didn't get MORE licenses. Yes, I complain about working in New York state. But every IA firm I've spoken to calls NY the Golden Ticket license. And why? Is it because NY deployments are better? Not necessarily.. The reason they call it that is because if you apply to their roster and you have a NY license on your resume, they'll fast-track you to the front of the line of people applying to be on their roster - of all the things you can do to demonstrate to an IA firm that you're serious about being an IA, there's really nothing better than the cumbersome and time-consuming licensing process for NY. It's THAT important. I don't have a NY license because I prefer to not to work in New York. But an adjuster with my level of experience can walk on to pretty much any roster they want to. However, when I was getting started? If I had known that the NY license would be so valuable to IA firms, I would have definitely gotten the NY license AND would have dropped everything to run up there and work doing whatever they asked me to for as long as they needed me to.

  • I didn't get advanced Xactimate training. Let me just humblebrag for a second: I'm fast in Xactimate. But it took me YEARS to get that way and it was all trial and error and sudden A HA moments when I figured out a hack, workaround, or a new keyboard shortcut.

    • Being fast in Xactimate is more than just using macros and knowing the category code for countertops. You MUST learn the quirks of the software if you want to be able to close claims quickly.

  • Finally, early on, I would have sought out daily assignments in the downtime instead of going to the beach for months on end. Preserving that cat income with quality off-season work that I could start and stop easily, even from the start, would have set me up for an early retirement. In addition to that, building relationships with other daily IA firms (who mostly also do cat), would have provided me with greater deployment opportunities as well (which brings us back to networking).

The rewards of this career are great.  Its not for everybody though.  It's risky, yes.  But it's far riskier for people who don't have the courage and perseverance to keep pushing through when big challenges get in their way.  It's not for the faint of heart. 

But if you've got some grit and you're not afraid to take a leap into a risky, but very much worth world where you get to decide how you want to work, then becoming an Independent Adjuster is for you.

Thank you so much for watching and have a great storm!

In this video, I share some insights into why I love being a cat IA. I also show a bunch of the best footage from some of my side-hustle video projects I’ve done for clients over the years.

Enjoy!

*I almost used #CATlife buuuuttt…..

 
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Getting Started as an IA with Eberl Claims Service

In this video, I visited Eberl’s Dallas Training Center and met the team, including Taylor Jones, VP of Shared Services.

I interviewed Taylor and she explained what Eberl is looking for when they add adjusters to their roster, what training opportunities Eberl has for new adjusters, and I even learned how to say EBERL.

For more information about Eberl Claims Service and getting on their roster, click the big yellow button..

Watch the full video!


Looking to get started as an Independent Adjuster? Have no clue where to start? Sign up to watch the free training, “Getting Started as an Independent Adjuster.”

 
 

Get Ready for NACA 2020!

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It’s never too early to start thinking about convention season!

Conferences and conventions are an essential part of networking and career-building for independent adjusters.

Whether you’re just getting started - or have been in the game for a long time - attending events where you can talk to people face-to-face is not only a great way to build and maintain your network, but it’s also really fun!

What other way is there to meet and hang out with people who are in the same industry as you? You can share war stories, talk about next-steps, and learn about new opportunities from other IA’s as well as all of the recruiters and hiring managers that attend these events.


Need a financial tracker for your claims business? Check out Mark’s Storm Tracker:

 
 

There are several large conferences just for our industry, but none is more specific to catastrophe work than the National Association of Catastrophe Adjusters (NACA) annual convention, job fair, and expo.

At the NACA convention you can:

  • get training including things like Xactimate and water mitigation

  • earn continuing education credits (CE) so that you can keep your licenses current

  • interview with dozens and dozens of IA firms so that they can meet you and see if you’re a good fit for them AND so that you can assess them and see if you’ll fit into their company culture and way of doing things

  • attend fun, organized events in the evenings to let your hair down and get to know your fellow attendees a bit better

  • win amazing door prizes

  • and most of all, be surrounded by hundreds of people who are deeply invested in this crazy, mostly unknown career we call Cat Claims


In this exclusive, extended video, I talk with folks from several IA firms, a gear maker, and a drone developer about new tools for ia’s, getting into the industry, and making a big impact on your first storm deployments.

Want to improve cycle time, customer service metrics, and get more claims closed every week on cat? Check out Schedule It..

36 inspected and closed claims in ONE DAY? - Part Two

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In last week's video, I explained how experienced adjusters are able easily and consistently close 6 or more hail claims in day - day after day.

In this video, I'm going to break down how I was able to inspect, write, and CLOSE 36 claims in ONE DAY

Yes, I said THIRTY SIX

So this is a pretty bold statement, right?

36 closed claims in a day.  I mean, if nothing else, that's 36 full invoices I turned in.  I honestly can't remember how much they were for, but if I do the math with an average of $350 that's $12,600 earned in ONE DAY. 

I knew there was a reason I liked being an IA..

Okay, so let me break this down:

The stars really had to align in a big way in order for me to be able to scope, write, close INCLUDING SETTLE 36 claims in one day.

Number One

These were commercial claims for one insured.  They were rental properties in St. Charles, MO.  So that by itself was a HUGE help in doing this because I only had to talk to one guy.  I called him once to set the appointment, I met him briefly first thing in the morning on the day of the inspections - I got there at 6, and then we sat down at Arby's that afternoon and went over the claims.  Only having ONE point of contact for multiple claims is one of the best things about commercial property claims.

The way the carrier paid the IA's for claims like this is that even though the claims were all on one policy, because they were all distinct and separate buildings at different loss locations, they were billed by us as individual claims.

Number Two

The houses were all small one story rental properties.  Little houses with easy access to the roof helped the scopes to go really fast.

Number Three

Because these were rentals, I didn't have to scope any contents damaged by the hail since the tenants should have all had their own renter's insurance.  Also, all I had to do when I got to each house was knock on the door and let the tenant know I would be walking around the property and looking at the roof.  And most weren't home because it was a workday.

Number Four

Only one construction element was damaged - that is, only the roof was damaged.  None of the houses had gutters.  All of the houses were brick.  They had 2' overhangs so there was no screen damage, wraps damage, or window frame paint chips.  And fence and outbuildings weren't covered under these policies.

But it gets better....

Number Five

Each house was identical.  The roofs were a simple straight gable.  No eyebrows, no hips, no bay windows, nothing sticking out anywhere.  The shingles were all 3 tab and the roofs were all 3/12.   A couple of vents.  All the same.

AND..  the hail fell straight down and the damage was so obvious that it took mere seconds to complete my test squares.

So even though I took photos of the damage on each house (I did NOT copy photos from one to another), I only had to draw ONE roof diagram and add that to the estimate.  I definitely double checked the measurements on every house just to be sure.  And it was faster to take a pic of the diagram for each one instead of trying to reuse the same single diagram photo (I wasn't required to use Sketch for these).

So to sum up these five stars..  they ended up all having exactly the same damage, the same material (3 tab, no laminate), and the same dimensions.  All of them!

Number Six

And if THAT wasn't good enough..  they were all right next to each other.  So I just walked my ladder up and down the street and then over to the next block etc.

Number Seven

Because they were all identical, I was able to create the first estimate and then just copy and paste that estimate into each one.  I created one activity diary entry and had that open in a text doc.  Copy and paste.

So after I scoped them all, I sat in my truck and wrote them up.  Then I called the property manager back (he left me alone after looking at the first 2 or 3) and we went over the totals and next steps at a nearby Arby's.

I basically said, "like you saw this morning when we looked at a few together, only the roofs were damaged, and they're all X dollars each.  Depreciation is X and the deductible will be applied to THIS one"

Did I go into detail on each one?  No.  Why would I do that if they're all the same.  

So there you have it:  36 inspected AND completely closed hail claims DONE in one day - before dinner even! 

Question of the Day 

Do you like Arby's Sauce or Horsey Sauce?  Let us know in the comments!  (No, not sponsored by Arby's)

7 ways to inspect and close SIX [or more] hail claims in ONE DAY - Part One

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In this two-part video, I'm going to talk about how many cat property claims you need to be closing a day and how to do it 

And in Part Two next week, I'll explain how I was able to inspect AND CLOSE 36 claims in one day - before dinner.

Let's do a quick refresher on just what it is that we do as property IA's:

Our job is to assist insurance carriers in closing large volumes of claims. 

The carrier wants us to get these claims closed so they can put the cat event behind them.

Key here is VOLUME.

So let's just jump right into this and talk about how long it should be taking you to do everything you need to in your claims workflow.

First, what are the parts of the workflow, in general?  And how long should each take?

Processing incoming claims/intake

  • Claims have to be downloaded, FNOL's printed, they need to be routed and scheduled, and the insured needs to be contacted - Per claim this should take about 10-15 minutes, give or take.  Let's say 12 minutes

Inspections

  • This - and estimate writing, are the big pieces of this process.  So for a typical heavily damaged hail claim on a house with a 20-30 square roof, you shouldn't be spending more than about 30 minutes scoping that loss.  And even less for big houses with cut up roofs.  Why?  Because you should be saving time by ordering an Eagleview or Ridgetop roof diagram.  30 minutes for heavy damage

  • If there is light damage, believe it or not, this can take more time.  Big damage is obvious and you don't have to spend a lot of time doing your test squares.  Light damage is harder to find if it's there.  You want to be as certain as you can that there's no damage so that when a roofer reinspection happens, you can be confident that you did your due diligence.  So lightly hit houses you can add 15 minutes - 30-45 minutes for light damage

Estimate writing

  • Importing and labeling photos shouldn't take more than 10 minutes - don't worry, I'll come back to this in a minute..

  • Writing the estimate itself, depending on the number of things damaged (roofing, siding, windows, etc), between 10 minutes and 30 minutes.  This includes your diary, damage evaluation forms, and invoice.

  • We'll say 20 minutes

Settling up with the insured.

  • We're having a short conversation here.  If you ONLY explain what you're paying for, the grand totals, and what the next steps are, this will take you no more than about 5 minutes.  

  • However, the insured will certainly have questions so add another 10 minutes to that.

  • 15 minutes to settle up with the insured.

Okay, let's add all that up:

Processing claims = 12 minutes

Field Inspections = 30 minutes

Estimate Writing = 20 minutes

Settlement = 15 minutes

Grand total:  77 minutes

Will some go more than this?  Oh without a doubt.  What about less?  Yes, most certainly.  

You'll be doing your claims intake stuff in your hotel room so knock that 12 minutes off of your field day and we're at 65 minutes start to finish.

..when I got started as an IA, the only thing I used the computer for was writing the actual estimates and creating letters.

I can hear the high-speed keyboards clacking now.  "That's total BS, Matt!  There's NO WAY you can scope and write a claim in an hour."

And you know what?  I will agree with you that if you don't know how to use powerful time-saving tools like claims recon, routing, macros, batching, and have a consistent and repeatable way that you move around buildings and move through the software, you'll never get more than 4 done in a day.  

If you're an experienced adjuster who is having trouble closing more than 3 or 4 claims a day, what's holding you back?  What part of your workflow seems to bog you down?  

And if you're a newbie and you haven't run your first claim yet, what part of the process is scaring you the most?

Let me know in the comments where you're watching this video so I can create some videos on those topics.

So let's dig a little bit deeper into scoping and writing claims..

I'm saying that a typical hail claim should take about an hour to scope and fully write up.

Assuming 10 minutes of drive time between houses - AND that you scope and write up the entire claim on site - if we got started at 8am we could easily do 3 before lunch and probably another 5 after lunch if we've got long summer days.

That's 8.  You'd be done by 7pm at the latest if there were no surprises.  And you'd have 8 claims closed and turned in.  

But let's just go with 6 to be safe.  3 in the morning and 3 in the afternoon, more or less.  Closed claims.

And even if you scope 6 and take those back to your hotel room to write up, you're still going to be done by no later than 8pm for the day.

How am I doing this?  How is any experienced adjuster doing this?

Here are the top SEVEN ways that good adjusters get 6+ claims closed in a day:

  1. They spent some time doing work BEFORE ever getting out into the field to make sure that they don't get any time-consuming surprises - for example, using Google Maps to check and see if they'll have to scope 2000 feet of fence or multiple outbuildings.  In this same vein, they'll also do as much work in the claim file as they can so they don't have to do it when they sit down to write.  For example, importing a grouping tree, checking off check boxes, making sure the deductible is correct and if they need to add a sublimit, it's done before they get to the house, etc.  We call this claims recon.

  2. They have taken advanced damage ID training so that they don't waste time hemming and hawing over spots on a roof.  One of the biggest time-wasters there is for us is not being able to make a decisive call on a roof because we're in doubt about what's a hail hit and what isn't.

  3. They have a repeatable and consistent way that they move around and through buildings and their estimating software.  Doing this reduces or eliminates time-consuming backtracking.  It also hugely reduces errors and missed damage.

  4. Because they've spent a LOT of time in Xactimate, they spend very little time hunting and pecking around looking for things and trying to remember what the category code is for gutters.  

  5. They extensively use macros to complete their estimates.

  6. They use templates for their GLR and activity diary entries

  7. They've had a LOT of settlement conversations with insureds and can anticipate objections and questions.


The number one complaint I hear from adjusters is that it takes way too long to import and label photos.

A few things about photos to think about:

  1. Are you taking the RIGHT number of photos?  We definitely don't want to take too few photos, but my experience in doing cleanup and file review is that many if not most IA's take way TOO MANY photos.  Believe it or not, but the insurance company really doesn't care that much about the GUTTERS so maybe don't take more than one or two downspout photos PER ELEVATION.  We don't need 5 hail dent photos of one downspout.  We just don't.  Remember that your entire claim file - including photos, estimate, and diary - should tell the story of the claim.  Not too much, not too little.

  2. Are you using your phone or a dedicated snapshot camera to take your pics?  Believe it or not, but this makes a difference. This is the one I use.

  3. Do you know how to type?  Learn to type.  Almost everything you do in the software will get a speed boost the faster you can type.

  4. Do you know the keyboard shortcuts for moving through Xactimate's photo import tool?  Remember, every time you touch your mouse, you're wasting time.

  5. Do you know how to label more than one photo at once?  Super helpful.

Finally, when I got started as an IA, the only thing I used the computer for was writing the actual estimates and creating letters.

I had to:

  • hand write the diary

  • Use a pen to fill out the file jacket

  • And to label the POLAROID PHOTOS that I had to staple to a piece of paper

So just imagine taking photos with a polaroid camera, labeling the photos with your sweaty hands, then stuffing them into your pocket to be organized when you complete the file.

And you know what?  By the end of my FIRST EVER STORM, I was closing 7 hail claims a day.  In the field.  In CHICAGO.  With a LOT of drive time and ridiculous traffic.  At the end of the day, I took my closed claims in and dropped them in my manager's basket and picked up my new claims.  

So with all of the advances we have today, there's simply no excuse for not being able to close more than 4 claims a day.

The response I often hear about the above statement sounds something like this:

“Well, with all of the compliance stuff I have to do in the file these days, it’s just too hard to get claims done quickly.”

What are they talking about?

Many times, carriers will have IA’s do what seems like a bunch of unnecessary and burdensome work like completing narrative reports, adding extra F9 notes to the estimate, and additional damage evaluation forms that are in a separate program like Excel.

Yes, these things take time. But an organized adjuster can integrate those things into their workflow and while they may add some extra time to what we have to do on each claim, we can still use our brains to figure out how to still get our claims done quickly and with best-quality so we can fulfill our obligations AND make a good living.

Question of the Day 

Do you know how to use macros when writing claims?  Would you like to?  Let me know in the comments where you're watching this video.

And don't forget to check out PART TWO of this video next week where I'll explain how I was able to inspect AND CLOSE 36 claims in one day - before dinner.

Learn To Adjust with Angela Henderson [+ FREE Continuing Ed Credits!!?]

 
 

I was asked to present at the first annual Learn to Adjust conference in Hurst, TX in January of 2019. It was a great honor to be asked to join a distinguished group of industry experts in talking about property claims to the attendees!

In this video, I talk with Angela Henderson, founder of the adjuster learning site and blog, Learn To Adjust, about how to be selective when looking for training, how to expand your adjuster skills outside of formal training.. AND.. how to keep your adjuster license up to date with FREE continuing education credits!

But first..

I recently received a question from Jay, who asks:

“I'm a bit worried! Just when I'm getting ready and buying gear to start a new career, I keep hearing about this mobile technology that a lot of car insurance [companies] are using - no adjuster involvement - just the insured taken pictures themselves..

Do you think that it will spread to homes as well and [that it will] start cutting adjusters ?

Thank you as always for all the info you give.”

Thanks for watching, Jay!

To get people up to speed on what Jay is asking:  if you have a claim on your car, these days some insurance companies will allow YOU - the insured - to take photos of the damage and send that in INSTEAD of sending an adjuster out to take those photos.

Jay is concerned that just when he's getting excited to start an incredible new career that seems to have so much potential to change his life for the better, that he'll have missed the boat - the salad days will be a memory - and he will have wasted a bunch of money and a bunch of time preparing for a job that doesn't exist.

I totally get it and even the chance that this could happen is enough to scare even me.

But I don't think it's the case.

And to understand why I say that, I think it's important to understand what carriers are trying to accomplish when an insured files a claim - whether it's auto or property or anything else.

The relationship between the insurance company and the insured is pretty simple:

Insured pays a premium every month..

The carrier promises to take on a certain level of risk - risk that if the insured took it on themselves, would represent financial hardship or ruin if it happened. 

Like fire. 

If it would cost $250,000 to rebuild your home if it burned down and you didn't have insurance, would you be able to pay for that on your own?  Probably not for most people.  So you pay what's basically a subscription to a company who says, "in exchange for this subscription fee, we will pay to replace your home if it burns down."  

Everything else associated with claims handling is just a tool to facilitate that relationship between the carrier and THEIR customer, the insured.

It's a relationship based on a promise, nothing more.  But promises require trust, right?

So what are the tools that carriers use to carry out this promise?

They use in-house claims teams.

If the in-house claims team can't handle a volume of claims - or claims that are remote - then they'll hire independent contractors to help them out.

Which is us - the independent adjuster.

That's our world in a nutshell.

So let's talk a little bit about what carriers are ultimately trying to do with things like photo assisted claims using an unlicensed subcontractor, claims where the insured submits photos with no field adjuster, or even where a direct repair contractor takes the place of a field adjuster..

FOR DAILY CLAIMS

The carriers will always have a desk adjuster working a claim.  In non-cat situations, it's up to that desk adjuster to decide how he or she wants to handle it.  The options they currently have available are:

The insured sends in photos of the damage or on a FaceTime - and the adjuster writes the estimate based on those photos and the insured's measurements - understanding that when a contractor shows up, things might change

They can call one of their restoration contractor partners who's agreed to abide by the carrier's estimating guidelines.  

They can go out to the claim themselves and handle the claim on site - this option will always have the best customer service outcome.

Or, if none of the above options are appropriate or feasible, they can send the claim out to an independent adjuster who will scope and write up the claim and send it back in for further processing by the desk adjuster.

for cat claims

On cat, it's a bit different.  Regular staff adjusters generally won't be making those decisions.  If a storm or other large scale event occurs, all claims from that event will be routed to the catastrophe claims department and they'll decide, based on the number of policies that may have been affected, how many adjusters to send.  Many carriers have their own cat teams and don't hire IA's.  But many MORE will supplement their staff cat teams with IA's.

Just as a reminder, the absolute best customer experience is to have a trained, licensed adjuster on site, making the coverage decision and settling with the insured.  Everybody agrees.

But here's where the controversy comes in..

There are other factors that make this a much more complicated decision for the carrier:

The added cost of bringing in IA's.  Not as big of a deal as you might think, but a consideration nonetheless.

The laws of the state - a big part of Fair Claims requires that claims be handled in a timely manner.  Fines and other penalties can occur otherwise.

The quality level of the initial claims experience for the insured - in other words, how accurate can the estimate be, how well was the customer treated, etc.

So, to answer your question, Jay..

Did you miss the boat?  Nope.

No matter what somebody thinks about virtual assist or photo-assist, understand this:

If you are well-trained, licensed, AND can close a lot of claims in a short period of time WITHOUT losing file quality AND while maintaining a wonderful experience for the customer - even on cat ESPECIALLY on cat - you will NEVER have to worry about making a great living at this job.

This year.

15 years from now.

40 years from now.

Why?

Because as I said above:  insurance is a relationship based on a promise.  

And the carriers have known, pretty much from day one a hundred and fifty years ago, that the best way to keep customers AND get new ones is to give them a top-shelf, on-site settlement where they only have to deal with one adjuster.  Doesn't matter if it's cat or daily, staff or IA.

Is photo assist a bad thing? 

No.

In fact, it's a great way to get into the industry.  

Do IA firms want to only send out photo assist people?  Absolutely not!  They'll go out of business if they can't send out highly trained, licensed adjusters able to make coverage decisions and close claims.  It's called a standalone adjuster. ..So don't anybody blame IA firms for photo assist.

Do CARRIERS want to send out only photo assist people?  

Again, no.

Just as a reminder, the absolute best customer experience is to have a trained, licensed adjuster on site, making the coverage decision and settling with the insured.  Everybody agrees.

Customer retention is one of their most important goals and if customers feel like they've been treated like a number.. if the person who came out for their $35,000 hail claim couldn't answer any questions.. if their claim has to be reinspected and supplemented... What's going to happen? They'll switch. AND they'll bad mouth their old carrier any chance they get.

Carriers don't want that more than anything.

So how do you make a career as a highly paid and sought after independent adjuster?

You close a lot of claims with great quality.

You think in terms of VOLUME, but only where it serves peak file quality and peak customer service.

If you can do that, you'll be golden.

And just a little inside baseball for you: this job isn't rocket science. You don't need an engineering degree from MIT to be good at this job and to get noticed.

You can distinguish yourself by putting - at a minimum - even just 10% more effort into your cycle time, your file quality, and your customer service. You do that, and you'll find yourself among the top 15 or 20% of adjusters. Busy.

Put even more effort in and it's just not that hard to get up into the top 5% of adjusters and be on the first call list of every roster you're on.

In other words, you'll be VALUABLE.


Question of the Day:

You probably know what a turtle vent is.. But do you know what else is required for proper roof ventilation? Answer in the comments below where you're watching this video.

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Learn to Adjust!

Find out more about Angela Henderson and Learn to Adjust!

Check out this adjuster tv video where I talk to Angela Henderson from learn to adjust:

What’s in my storm truck??

 
 
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Free Hurricane Prep Training

Apply now to get on Pilot’s roster to get access to this free training.

Program starts July 9th

In this video, I run through my vehicle as well as all the gear I carry around with me on most of my cat deployments

Vehicle:

  • 2007 Toyota 4Runner Limited (bought new and paid off years ago)

  • 449167 miles

  • 24 foot extension ladder

  • 32 foot extension ladder (not shown in video)

Field Gear:

  • When I’m performing inspections, I generally carry the following items on my person:

  • ID badge + spare pen

  • Soapstone (with extra bright colored chalk in case of a light colored roof)

  • Camera (I don’t use my smartphone for photos)

  • Shingle Gauge

  • Pitch Gauge

  • 40’ Tape

  • Laser

  • Magnet

  • Small flashlight

  • Putty knife

  • Multitool

  • Clipboard with 10x10 graph paper

Carried in Vehicle

Spares Bin:

  • Clipboards

  • Tapes

  • Cougar Paws/Pads

  • Tin Snips

  • Utility Knife

  • ITEL mailer packs

  • Extra tool belts (use depends on storm type)

  • Light jacket

Backseat:

  • Extra printer paper

  • Extra print cartridges

  • Customer handouts

  • Printed job aids/references

  • Laptop

  • Laptop Stand

  • Printer

Cooler:

  • Lunch items

  • Cold drinks

Front Seat:

  • File folder

  • Coffee

  • Hand Sanitizer


Get a tour of my storm vehicle + what gear I carry with me on most cat deployments in this adjusterTv video:

The New York Adjuster License

 
NY License.png
 

You know, I love New York City.

There's energy, there's famous people walking around, there's ALWAYS something going on at any hour of the night or day.  It's an iconic city.  It's one of the most famous cities in the world.  When people from other countries plan a vacation to the US, they don't go to Omaha, Nebraska.  They go to New York.  Aside from their sad taste in pizza, New Yorkers are in a class by themselves.

But I don't wanna work there.

So Eric asks, Matt, what’s your take on the value of NY license? 

 

Wondering where the most storm damage occurs? Start getting your licenses in the places you’re most likely to work NOW.

I see this question asked on social media all the time and I get emails about it quite often.

Let's talk about the NY License.

Why do people say that the NY adjuster license is a Golden Ticket license?

Here's why:

New York is a pretty big state.  It's the fourth most populous state in the US with around 20,000,000 people living there.

What does that mean? 

It means that there are a LOT of insurance policies there.  A lot of vehicles, a lot of houses, and a lot of businesses and commercial structures.

New York is also in the top ten most expensive places to live.  Why do we care about that?  Because property replacement and repair are going to be more expensive there and so - a benefit to us - fee bills can be higher in NY for the same claim that you have in Des Moines, IA.

Those are face-value reasons to having a NY adjuster license.  

But the reason behind that reason is actually a little different:

The reason why IA firms will really push hard on you getting the NY adjuster license is because their carrier clients want them to be able to help them staff a big event if it hits new york.  And new york gets hurricanes.  

The problem is that the NY license is pretty challenging to get.  They used to have a temporary emergency license - and that's how I always worked there - but it's been reported to me that this is no longer available.

So I'm just going to say this:  I don't have a NY license nor am I going to get one.

Why would I say this when so much potential money can be made in NY on a big event?

It's my choice and I'm not telling you that I don't think YOU should get a NY license, not at all.

But here are the reasons why I don't like working in NY:

  1. Cat events aren't that typical there.  Maybe once every 2-3 years, maybe 4 years, there's a big winter storm or every 8-12 years there's a hurricane.  Those are the only times I've worked NY.  Yes, you can argue that plenty of adjusters work every year in NY on cat, but that's a relatively small group.  AND more importantly for me, Texas, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri are going to ALWAYS keep me busy during storm season.

  2. New York is expensive.  Sure, the fee bill might be a bit higher.  But an Extended Stay hotel in Long Island in 2002 was $900 a week where even in Chicago suburbs, the same hotel was $290 a week.  That adds up.  Food is more expensive, fuel is definitely more expensive, and every road is a toll road.... The Big Apple is the apple that bites you back.

  3. New Yorkers are a feisty bunch.  You can give them everything under the sun on their claim and they'll still yell at you and say unkind things about your mother.  Many New Yorkers will assume that you're trying to rip them off no matter what you say.  It can be an uphill battle on a lot of claims that - in any other part of the country - would be smooth as silk.  I love em.  I love their passion.  If I was going to be negotiating with an adjuster, I'd want a New Yorker there to keep them honest, I truly would.

Let's look at it this way:  In adjusting as in many things in life, we can apply the 80/20 rule.

If I get 80% of my income from 20% of states in the US, I'm going to focus on those states.  So I KNOW that the region between Colorado and Ohio and Canada and Mexico - that box - is going to keep me busy every summer without fail.  That's where I'm going to concentrate my efforts.  That's where I'm going to get and maintain my licenses.  I'm going to be on the rosters of the IA firms that have a big presence in those areas.

I'm not getting a Hawaii license.  Or an Alaska license (even though both of those places would be super cool places to work).

I'm going to focus my energy where it's most profitable to me and - frankly - forget the rest.  It's a strategy that's worked for me for my entire career.

But that's for CAT.

If you're a daily adjuster and you want to travel and do daily OR you're doing ANY kind of desk work, you're going to want to get a NY license without a doubt.  

I went to CA several years ago to work mudslide claims and ended up staying there for MONTHS doing slab leaks - which are DAILY claims.

Now, I don't want IA firms to think that I'm trying to dissuade you from getting a NY license.  You have to understand that if there's another Sandy or Floyd in NY, they will need licensed adjusters.  There's no way around it.  They need to have people licensed in NY. 

I choose not to bother with NY.  

HOWEVER..

My advice to you is to YES, get a NY license.  BUT..  get these FIVE or SIX licenses FIRST:

  1. Your home state license

  2. Indiana

  3. Texas

  4. Oklahoma

  5. Minnesota

  6. Florida

If your home state doesn't have a licensing requirement for adjusters, get an Indiana license first.  It's just easier.

Those licenses are going to cover you for most of the most common claims you'll handle as a cat adjuster - midwest wind/hail.

The places your IA firms will send you the most often will be someplace inside of that box - Colorado to Ohio and Canada to Mexico.

ny graphic map.png

That's where you LIVE as a cat adjuster.  

THEN, start picking up south Atlantic coastal states.  THEN go after your New York license.

But don't spend a lot of time waiting around to get a NY license FIRST because you can miss a great hail storm in Texas or Minnesota that can keep you busy all summer.  

You don't want to miss the bread and butter stuff that cat adjusters live off of just so you can say that you have a NY license that you MIGHT use once every 3 or 4 years.  

Go for the stuff that's going to keep you busy out of the gate FIRST and then pick up the extra licenses once you've got what you need to get you out the door NOW, instead of "just in case."


Question of the Day

If you're an experienced cat adjuster have you worked outside of that Colorado to Ohio and Canada to Mexico box (plus Florida) and if so, where and how long were you there?

Retire Early [The Jay Leno Way]

 

[Scroll to the bottom to see if you won the Starbucks Gift Card!]

LENO STANDUP.jpg
 

So what can Jay Leno teach us about hitting our financial goals - even including an early retirement?

Set aside the fact that he's a famous celebrity millionaire aside, there are a few fundamental habits that Jay Leno cultivated from the very beginning of his working life - at McDonald's.

Number one: 

He pays cash for everything.  It is said that the borrower is a slave to the lender.  If you hit financial hard times and the things you own are owned by a bank or lender, then if you can't keep paying your payments, they'll come take that stuff away. 

So a couple of ways to avoid borrowing?  

Well, first is to realize that having a lot of STUFF isn't going to make you happy.  Will a gently used vehicle you buy for cash do the same job as a brand new one?  Yes.

Second is to try to be disciplined.  Save up for those things.  

Realize that the thing you buy with money you spend months saving for will be far more valuable to you than the thing that you, on a whim, whip out the credit card and buy on the spot.


Number two:

Be discerning with your money.  

Jay Leno has famously said he never uses valet parking.  I honestly don't think he says this because he's trying to save money... But consider that even though you CAN afford to pay for valet parking everywhere you go, or you CAN afford to run through Starbucks every single day on your way to work..  consider what else you could have spent that money on - or saved it up for.

No, I'm not saying to never do those things or to occasionally indulge in some little luxuries here and there.  But if a person spends money on those things all the time, and is worried about how they're going to fund their retirement, maybe let's work on our priorities.

This goes for new cars, big houses, and big tvs.  You're kinda spending your retirement now.  Is that worth it?  

Realize that the thing you buy with money you spend months saving for will be far more valuable to you than the thing that you, on a whim, whip out the credit card and buy on the spot.

Up to you.

Real quick - while we're on the topic - who did you like better:  Carson or Leno?  Answer in the comments below.


Number Three:

And this is the big one I really wanted to get to..

It is said that Jay Leno didn't live off of or spend his Tonight Show earnings, which were reportedly as high as $30 million a year.

What did he do with that money?

He saved it.

So what did he live on?

Jay lived off the income he earned from doing 150 stand up comedy shows a year - and saved his Tonight Show salary (still does stand up even today).

What he did was:

He ALWAYS has two jobs - even now - and this is the big secret:  he always saves the bigger income and lives off the lower income.

So he was working at a car dealership and doing comedy at night - he lived off his comedy income when he was just starting out and saved his dealership income.  When he started making more money in comedy, he kept his dealership job and lived on THAT income..  while saving his higher comedy earnings.

Freaking brilliant.

So how can you apply this to claims?

I've said in at least one previous video that you need a side hustle (click up here).  And why did I say that?

Because I want you to protect the money you make all summer doing cat claims.  You don't want to work all summer and live off that money all winter and then when storm season rolls around again, you're broke.  Believe me.  I did it for several years when I got started.

Jay's way takes this even farther.  

You live off of your side hustle.  And you save ALL of your cat earnings.  

I'm not going to sit here and second guess what your financial goals might be..  But if you're anything like me..  while I love running claims and traveling for work and all that..  If somebody said, "keep climbing roofs or retire today and go travel for fun and play golf and make AdjusterTV videos.."

(What do you think I would say?)

So let's run some numbers..

Let's say in the off-season, you can earn enough money to pay your bills.  In 6 months you -  and maybe combined with a spouse's income - can cover your bills and keep food on the table.

So if we take the worst year you might have running claims - assuming that you've got some experience and you're not a complete noob who's not guaranteed to do very well your first year - you're up and running and you bring home ONLY $60,000.  

If you were able to save all of your cat earnings at $60,000 a year, in ten years you'd have $600,000.  And at a safe withdrawal rate of 4%, that's $24,000 a year in interest income.  Kinda hard to live off of that, but it can be done.

You can also pay off your house, and reduce your monthly expenses, which makes living off of $24,000 a year a lot easier.

But every year isn't going to be the worst case scenario.  

Once you get up and running as a cat IA, you can have a great season where you bring home $140,000.

Even though I say to never count on events like Irma and the crazy income people were making  on that storm..  they still happen.

So you get a a crazy outlier year where you bring home $225,000. 

And you save it.  Not out of the realm of possibility to have that happen once, maybe twice, in a ten year career.

And those are low numbers.  Most really good IA's make quite a bit more than $60,000 a year on average.  

Again, we're talking in LESS THAN 12 months.  Don't think of it as annual income because it isn't.  You've got the rest of the year to do whatever you want.  No boss, no commute.  No emails.  I think you get the idea.

Let's put it this way.

If I told you that you could retire from running claims on the road in ONLY ten years - but you had to deliver pizza, and wait tables, and sell roofs, and maybe sell Mary Kay for 6 months out of the year..  Would you do it?

You don't even have to make that choice.  

Because as a skilled, trained, licensed adjuster, you can run daily claims during the off season and potentially make as much as you do on cat.

I'm just saying.  Just throwing this out there.  

You know, if you have zero intention of doing anything with insurance, you can still use Jay Leno's method to reach your financial goals.  

But if you're serious about making a huge impact on your life and your family's life, becoming an independent adjuster doing cat AND daily can really accelerate your savings goals and get you out of the rat race in less time than you can imagine.

It's real.


Question of the Day:

For you millennials out there and older folks who still stay up watching late night tv..

Kimmel or Fallon?

Starbucks $10 Gift Card Winners: James Defalco, John Cayot, and Paul Koski! Send me an email at mathew@adjustertv.com and I’ll send you your gift cards!

Hotels vs RVs [by popular demand]

Let’s settle this once and for all.. Which is better for a traveling catastrophe independent adjuster?

In this video, I’ll compare hotels and RVs based on Price, Convenience, and Comfort.

Also, which RV do I think is ideal for running cat claims as well as which hotel is my favorite?

The Starbucks gift card comment contest is over. To see if you won, watch Thursday, May 16th’s video!

Don't Ruin Your Career with Social Media

 
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(No newbies were harmed in the making of this post)

We've all seen it: 

The newbie posts up a basic question on Facebook and they get skewered by a pack of trolls who shred them for even THINKING a newbie thought.  

So what's so wrong with that?  We've still got freedom of speech in America and if a person wants to say how much they hate this or that thing or group, who cares, right?  I may not agree with their views, but the First Amendment is one of our most cherished privileges in this country.  Plus, I can unfriend them or hide them from my feed.

Well, insurance companies might care.  Or IA firms.  Or even a PA or attorney...!  

It recently came to my attention from several different people that some IA firms were watching social media.  I was told that if they saw somebody being a jerk to a newbie in a facebook group that they would immediately check and see if the rude person was on their roster and then "take measures" from there.  In some cases going as far as kicking that person off of their roster.

Now, it could be argued that I'm not doing our industry any good by saying this.  After all, if a person is going to be an jerk to a new adjuster or somebody interested in this business, how are they going to treat an insured?  We should let those rude know-it-alls hang themselves with their own words, right?  

Well, I thought long and hard about doing this video for that reason.  In the end, I feel that it's more of a benefit if I get this message out than if I don't say anything.  Besides, most of the people who troll in social media probably don't watch my videos - and even if they do, maybe they'll see that they can't just sucker punch people through a computer from the safety of their mom's basement and get away with it for long.  

That what they do online can have real consequences - not the least of which is getting blackballed from a roster (or rosters).

The biggest part of our job as claims adjusters is customer service.  That requires us to have empathy..  and to treat people with dignity and respect...  not just customers.

And this doesn't just go for being a jerk in the comments..

If a public adjuster or attorney sees your activity online, they may be able to use it against you in court.  I was told a story about an adjuster who posted a photo of a beer next to his laptop while working on claims - probably years prior.  One of his claims went to court and the PA searched the adjuster's social media feed and found that pic and then had a big Perry Mason moment of showing how the adjuster was drinking when he wrote the estimate - which the adjuster denied up until the photo was revealed from his social media feed. 

Listen, here's the deal:  

The biggest part of our job as claims adjusters is customer service.  That requires us to have empathy..  and to treat people with dignity and respect...  not just customers.

I've seen adjusters standing in an insured's front yard on a reinspection, giving them their opinion about everything that pops into their mind, telling them that their previous adjuster was an idiot for not seeing x or y..  I've seen them arguing with the roofer, and correcting everything everybody says because hey, they're the EXPERT on adjustering and everybody needs to know how great THEY think THEY are.

That person is a troll.  And IA firms don't want that guy representing them in the field.  Neither do carriers.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret: nobody cares about what you think or what you think you know.

When I’m running claims, they don’t care about what I think either.

They only care about how we can help them. If we concentrate on the outcome of the claim then things will go much smoother for everybody.

How do you know you’re a troll?

Number One: You've nominated yourself chief of the grammar police.

If a newbie posts something and you understood what they said, then that post was a success - even if everything was misspelled and they used there instead of they're.  In case you didn't know, humans MADE UP language so we could communicate with each other - NOT so we could show each other how much we know arbitrary rules better than somebody else.  And grammar and spelling are sets of arbitrary rules.

Number Two: You think honesty is the best policy.

You feel compelled to share your "opinion" with people, even if it's going to hurt their feelings or cause controversy - because, "hey, I'm just being honest and honesty is the best policy, right?"  Wrong.  By this standard, if I walk into a person's house and I don't like their home decor, I have every right to say, "your home decor is garbage, have you thought about remodeling?  Hey, I'm just being honest!"  Does that have anything to do with closing that claim?  Does it?  No.  Therefore honesty is NOT the best policy.  Closing that claim is the best policy!  And anything that doesn't CONTRIBUTE to that is going to make that harder for you.

Or...  "actually, yes.  Those pants DO make your butt look pretty big honey.  But I love your big butt!  Hey, I'm just being honest!"  

Think about it:  what's the best outcome here?  That your wife should appreciate that you're an honest guy?  Is that really what we're hoping to achieve here??  (I'll let you work that one out)

In short:  don't LIE.  But also, don't think you have to always speak your mind in an inappropriate spirit of total honesty.

Number Three: Finally, you think it's okay to build yourself up by tearing somebody else down. 

For example:  "anybody who doesn't know what TPO is shouldn't be an adjuster."  "Anybody who doesn't have their [insert special certification here] shouldn't be allowed to touch a claim."  When you say that, we can only assume that YOU know what a TPO roofing system is or that YOU have that super special certification.  Which means that you're trying to make yourself look better by disqualifying those who don't have that knowledge.  

What you're telling me is that YOU are insecure and never learned that fundamental thing about yourself - nor are you capable of seeing things from outside of your own perspective - which is a critical customer service skill in our industry.


So long story short, what you say and do on social media has consequences, in some cases pretty serious.  Clean up your feed and delete photos and other posts that you wouldn't want your grandma to see (you know, if she's a normal grandma and not an outlaw biker).