DAILY vs CAT PROPERTY [Mid Am Cat Interview]

 
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Headquartered in beautiful Mobile, AL since 2013, Mid-America Catastrophe Services was founded in 1980 with the goal of perfecting the claim management process.

MAC retains the commitment to excellence that has been the cornerstone of their company for more than 30 years. They couple quality and experience with innovative practices. Their objective is to provide insurance companies and their insureds with complete, accurate claims handling in a timely manner.

Mid-America Cat’s Mission: Do whatever we MUST to deliver the MOST.

Utilizing their unique blend of technology, experience, and knowledge across a wide variety of disciplines, they provide solutions commensurate with their clients’ needs. Their staff is committed to doing the right things the right way every day.

 
 

Check out the exclusive interview with gene and Keith from Mid-America cat:

Advanced Time Management Masterclass

What’s the most important skill for field property adjusters?

Is it:

  • All-star Xactimate and estimating skills?

  • Advanced construction knowledge?

  • Deep policy knowledge?

  • White-glove customer service?

The answer is: none of those things.

An adjuster can be the best in the world at each of those things, but if he or she can’t properly manage their time, then they won’t make it far as an independent adjuster.

So what IS the greatest skill an IA can have? The ONE THING that unites all of their other skills together into a claims-crushing machine?

If you said, “organized and efficient time management” then you’d be right.

In this video, I briefly announce my new free live training that focuses on advanced time management strategies.

The End of Insurance as We Know It?? [ROUNDTABLE]

 
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This video is a juicy one..

Chris Stanley with IApath.com invited me to be a part of a graduation open house (online) for his students.

So sit back with some popcorn and enjoy as you learn what industry pros see coming for us in the insurance industry.

There was an all-star panel of guests including:

Rob Galbraith - best-selling author of “The End of Insurance as We Know It”

Jason Heenan - Royal Adjusting Services owner and host of the popular “AdjusterTalk” podcast.

Adam Painter: Host of the new independent adjusting podcast “The Adjuster Show” and owner of ap-adjusting.com, a site dedicated to curating the best resources for independent claims adjusters.

John Bachmann - A true insurance Renaissance Man who contributes to the fast-growing YouTube channel, The Insurance Nerdery.

So sit back with some popcorn and enjoy as you learn what industry pros see coming for us in the insurance industry.

The video hits the highlights of the open house/roundtable.

Watch the 50+ minutes of industry pros talking about our industry:

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Want to join an IA Path Open House?

For future all-star open houses, check out Chris Stanley’s IA Path website!

Health Insurance for Independent Adjusters?? [YES IT'S REAL]

 
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Health insurance is a big deal for us all.

As claims professionals, we’re dealing with risk every day. So we understand that not having health insurance is risky.

But because we’re independent contractors, few if any IA firms offer health insurance to their independent adjusters.

So what do we do?

We can try to get an ACA policy for our family, but that can cost up to and beyond $1000 a month - and for what? Limited coverage.

There are companies out there that are looking out for us. Companies founded by IAs for IAs.

Well, thankfully there ARE options for us.

In this video, I interview Eurie Dye, sales director for AdjusterZone.com about what they offer independent adjusters for affordable medical care.

And it doesn’t stop there. They even have a special retirement account set-up - a 401k - just for us! And a LOT more.

There are companies out there that are looking out for us. Companies founded by IAs for IAs.

 
 
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Want to know more?

Watch the exclusive interview with eurie dye, adjusterzone co-founder & director of sales:

How to inspect a hail damaged vehicle

By Chris Stanley, IA Path Founder and Host of The Independent Adjuster Podcast

 
 

This adjusting superpower will give you x-ray like vision to see hail dents that average adjusters and owners cannot see. There are many misconceptions on how to properly look at a vehicle, but this is the technique of true professionals. 

I want you to do an exercise the next time you are outside with your vehicle. Look at your hood and find reflections in your hood. Do you see the clouds? How about the light pole? Telephone or power wires? The old barn? Whatever you see in your reflection off the hood, focus on one object. Now move your head and keep track of your object. Walk to the left, now the right. Were you able to keep the reflection the whole time? Good.

Now I want you to find a hard-line in the reflection. This is a light pole, edge of a roof, anything that is solid and a different color than its surroundings.  Your goal each and every time you look at a hail damaged panel is to find a hard-line reflection. Find one that is straight and stands out in the reflection.

When you move your head and the hard-line comes across a hail dent, you will see your light bending superpower in action. The hard-line reflection will bend to the shape of the hail dent. It will become distorted and reveal how far the metal has been stretched. This is because the metal is not flat at this spot. 

That is how you find dents and properly size the dents. When looking at a dent on a hood what you can see with your naked eye is only part of the stretched metal. When you use your light bending powers, you will see the true size of the dent.

This same technique is extremely useful in counting the dents across a panel. Each time you see the reflection flicker or go distorted you know a hail dent is present. 

You are armed with the knowledge to see the damage that is present on a vehicle, have a basic understanding of the repair operations, and how to determine what is best for each panel. We now need to pull all of it together to make notes to be able to create a digital estimate. 

We document the damage of the vehicle in the same manner that we take photos of the vehicle, the same way each time. We start at the same place, left front, and go the exact same route around the vehicle as we did with the photos. 

Below is my guide to the order in which you should inspect hail damage panel by panel.

 
 

Do you see how doing the photos and the scoping in the exact same order would ensure you are consistent and give you a rhythm to follow? You may have your own order already established and I’m not challenging anyone’s methods, but it needs to be the same every time. As your guide I encourage you to do it the way I’ve laid out, to take my advice, and to apply my methods.

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Become an Auto Adjuster..

IA Path is dedicated to helping you become a working auto adjuster with comprehensive training...

Check out the video on this topic below…

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Outsourcing for Independent Adjusters...?

 
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The dictionary definition of outsourcing:

obtain (goods or a service) from an outside or foreign supplier, especially in place of an internal source.

As independent claims adjusters, it may not seem like we can use outsourcing. We’re making calls, scoping properties, writing estimates and file docs.. then making more calls.

So what part of that could we outsource to make our jobs a little bit easier and our workflow a bit faster?

Consider that diagramming and measuring a large, cut-up roof can take upwards of two hours alone.

There are actually several places, but in this video, I interview Jason Timmerman from Ridgetop Aerial Technologies (aka Ridgetop Sketch) about how ordering a roof diagram CAD can significantly speed up not only your inspections, but your estimate writing as well.

But how is this outsourcing?

 
Partial sample report from Ridgetop Sketch

Partial sample report from Ridgetop Sketch

 

Well, consider that diagramming and measuring a large, cut-up roof can take upwards of two hours alone. Therefore having a roof diagram that you can drop into your estimate in 60 seconds represents a significant time and effort savings. Not to mention a definite safety benefit.

The service Ridgetop Sketch provides also includes a robust backend that will allow you to track how much you spent in a year or quarter on sketches for your taxes, as well as historical imagery that allows adjusters to see what the roof looked like at different points in time - this will help adjusters see if the damage they’re looking at is from the date of loss for this claim, or if it’s old damage and shouldn’t be included. You can also add fence and deck reports to your roof CAD so you’re not pacing off hundreds of feet of fence.

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Want to know more?

Watch the exclusive interview with Jason Timmerman, ridgetop sketch founder and president:

Four Things That Must Happen During and Auto Inspection

By Chris Stanley, IA Path Founder and Host of The Independent Adjuster Podcast

 
 

There are 4 things you MUST do to complete an auto inspection. Let’s look at that now and the sub-steps in them:

When inspecting a vehicle there are 4 steps to completing an auto damage inspection.

Have a Conversation - Having a good conversation with the owner is crucial tounderstanding the damage and leaving the owner feeling good about the work that you are going to do. Let them share your story so you know what happened to the vehicle.

Take Photos - Taking the required photos properly and capturing the damage is essential to what you were contracted to do. Capture the damage on the vehicle so the damage can tell its own story.

Scope the damage - Proper note taking of the damage and of the conversation with the owner will make the job of writing an estimate and an appraisal report easier for you.

The damage notes are called “scoping” the damage.

Set Expectations – Let the owner or shop know EXACTLY what to expect. If needed re-adjust those expectations so they aren’t having incorrect expectations. Easiest way for people to be happy is to tell them what to expect next in the claims process.

Complete these steps in this order for maximum effectiveness.

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Become an Auto Adjuster..

IA Path is dedicated to helping you become a working auto adjuster with comprehensive training...

Check out the video on this topic below…

The Most Expensive Adjusting School [Is It Worth It?]

 
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There are many adjuster training schools out there. A great many of them offer outstanding results and can also boast a large number of successful alumni.

Yes, it’s true: There is a lot of training that you can get to become an independent adjuster that concentrates on one or a few aspects of the work that we do: one school may concentrate on the estimating software, another school may excel at providing construction knowledge, and yet another that focuses on customer experience, and so on.

But there is one school that synthesizes every aspect of claims handling into one comprehensive school.

The Veteran Adjusting School 6 week program was designed by independent cat adjusters with decades of experience between them. The classroom and field coursework is taught by experienced independent adjusters. Students receive an Xactimate Level 2 Certification in the first week.

But is it worth it?

Consider this: outside of specialized engineering and math degrees, a college graduate with a Bachelor’s degree can count on an average starting salary less than $40,000 a year. And that’s after spending 4 or more years and an average of $127,000 total (including room and board) at a liberal arts university.

Imagine if you had the potential to earn $100,000 a year or more and you only had to spend $22,000 to do it? Not only that, but instead of 4 YEARS in school, you only need to spend 6 weeks and you had a very high chance of immediate job placement THE DAY YOU ARRIVED AT SCHOOL?

VAS students side-step the 2-4 year experience requirement that many IA firms have for new adjusters

VAS students side-step the 2-4 year experience requirement that many IA firms have for new adjusters. In addition, VAS partners with more than 25 Independent Adjusting firms for job placement assistance.

So I’ll leave it up to you to decide if the most expensive adjuster training school is worth it to you.

Veteran Adjusting School is not easy to get into, but compared to weekend bootcamps, ride-alongs with adjusters who are unskilled in training, and 3-5 day adjuster crash courses, isn’t it worth it to give yourself the best chance of success by seeking out the highest quality training?

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Want to know more?

Watch the exclusive interview with Guy Grand, VAS co-founder:

How to get started as an Independent Auto Adjuster

By Chris Stanley, IA Path Founder and Host of The Independent Adjuster Podcast

 
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You may have a grasp of how you could put the odds of getting work as an IA in your favor, but you may still be wondering exactly what steps or tactics you should employ to accomplish your goals. You have lots of actions you COULD take, but what are the best actions to take to achieve your desired results without walking in circles or wasting steps?

Just because you know how to play chess doesn’t mean you know how to win.

This is exactly why I created the Roadmap that uses the the principles found in my book, Independent Adjuster’s Playbook, to its fullest. I call it the IA Advantage Roadmap. The Roadmap is the journey that I have traveled over the last 10 years (and in some cases, what I’d do different if I had to start over today). The Roadmap combines my experiences and knowledge of the industry along with the experiences of other IA’s and knowledge from those I’ve interviewed on the Independent Adjuster Podcast to provide us with a proven map.

Now before we dive into all the individual steps, you may be wondering, “What do I need to do BEFORE I can get started in auto?” Well, there are 3 big steps all the following steps fall into.

1. Get Trained – Know how to write estimates

2. Create Your Business – Be set up as a legit business

3. Get Customers – Build trust and relationships with IA Firms

Now that is a simplification of what you NEED to do before you get started in auto, but it isn’t hard so dig in and start. If you want more detailed instructions on how to get started, below is an excerpt from the Independent Adjuster’s Playbook that breaks down how to get started in auto step by step into a roadmap. I call it the IA Advantage Roadmap.

3 Phases of the IA Advantage Roadmap:

The Roadmap is comprised of three phases. These phases each have a milestone for you and your career. As an independent business owner, having a solid understanding of the entire process and the steps that you need to take will bring you confidence. As you get going and start to find traction, your goals may change and deviate from what I’ve outlined. Never forget, the Roadmap is to be your guide not your prison.

During your journey, you may decide to take a different path than what I’ve laid out, and that is completely fine. This map is designed to help you get started without having a lot of unanswered questions. Many new adjusters may get through Phase 2 of the Roadmap and decide to keep going on Phase 2 while never moving on to Phase 3, and that can be a great career decision! This is your life, claim it!

This Roadmap is to be your guide not your prison.
— Chris Stanley

In this section, I will go over the three phases in a big picture fashion, and in the next section of the book, I’ll cover each step inside of each phase in greater detail. If you are wanting a more detailed breakdown of how to do each step that I am about to outline, continue on to the next section of the book (Part 3).

Phase 1: Create Your Business

Phase 1 of the IA Advantage Roadmap is all about creating your business. Let’s say you were going to start a different type of business, a bakery, for example. You would not only need to know how to bake cakes to have a business, but you would need to create a legal business entity to sell those cakes. Additionally, you would need to have a way to process payments from your customers and have the proper insurance in place. That is what Phase 1 is all about. It includes the following steps:

● Start Auto Training

● Get an Adjuster License

● Obtain Your EIN

● Apply for an LLC

● Open a Bank Account

● Get Proper Insurance

● Complete Your Auto Training

● MILESTONE: OPEN FOR BUSINESS!

(The MILESTONE at the end of the list of steps lets you know when you have completed the phase i.e. you know you’ve finished Phase 1 when you are officially and legally open for business.)

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Become an Auto Adjuster..

IA Path is dedicated to helping you become a working auto adjuster with comprehensive training...

Why Auto?

Now, you may be wondering, “Auto training? Hold on! Chris, I was thinking of getting into property. I want to become an independent property adjuster. I want to climb houses!”

Yes, I understand that you may be thinking about scaling roofs and that there’s more money in property. And, you’d be right in thinking that there is more money in property, but the methodology I am presenting is all about putting the odds in your favor.

Remember, the IA Advantage Roadmap is a map to give you the advantage and the edge as you get started, making it easier to find work and success early on. By directing you toward auto adjusting as an initial step, I am giving you the less competitive route.

As I discussed earlier in this book, every adjuster has heard the same things that you probably read online, that typical way of thinking and strategy. This involves getting your adjuster license, taking Xactimate training, learn a little bit about property claims, then... get to the back of the line! I do not want you to get in the back of that property line.

“I do not want you to get in the back of that property line. I want you to work while others wait.”

Frankly, instead of focusing on property, I’d much rather you compete for local daily auto claims because the odds are better.

Let me use a real example. I have a good adjuster friend who lives in Abilene, Texas.

Instead of competing with the 17,000+ licensed adjusters in Texas for catastrophic claims, he decided to pursue local daily claims in his area. In his area he knows of only 1 other adjuster servicing the same types of companies he is working with. ONLY ONE!

(Pretty good odds, eh?)

I want you to work while others wait.
— Chris Stanley

Now, maybe you live in a bigger city where there are perhaps dozens of other IA’s servicing daily claims. Still, I don’t know about you, but I like the odds of competing against dozens better than competing against 17,000+. That is why I’m walking you through learning to do auto claims. Your goal should be to have a successful daily auto claims business as a revenue stream then using that revenue to catapult yourself into the catastrophic arena with experience, confidence, and income.

Phase 2: Promote Your Business

Now, if you successfully completed Phase 1, you are officially a business owner. The purpose of Phase 2, going back to the bakery example, is about telling people about the cakes you are selling. So, instead of telling people about cakes, you tell people that you are an independent adjuster and talk about the claims that you can handle.

You must promote your business. The steps in Phase 2 are:

● Take Auto Software Training

● Set Up LinkedIn Profile

● Prepare Your Resume

● Get On Photo Rosters

● Find & Join 13 Rosters

● Purchase Estimating Software

● MILESTONE: FIRST DAILY CLAIM!

The big milestone in Phase 2 is to earn your first dollar as a claims business. Which is to say, you will know you are done with Phase 2 when you have earned your first dollar in revenue.

Many people may choose to stay here and build their local daily auto claims business.

Many people may stay in daily claims forever, but I have a feeling that a majority of

people are reading this because they want to pursue catastrophic claims. So, if you

want to move on to catastrophic work then onto Phase 3 ONCE YOU HAVE

COMPLETED PHASE 2.

[END EXCERPT]

Check out the video on this topic below…

Find out which IA firm are assigning claims and WHERE [RIGHT NOW👍]

 
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Fact:  independent adjusters are paid to be efficient. 

If Adjuster A and Adjuster B are both looking at the same house, they should both produce a very similar claim file, right?  Which means that the fee bill will be the same.

If Adjuster A can close that claim in 2 hours and Adjuster B can get the exact same results in 1 hour, who will make more money?

In property claims, the adjusters who close good claims fast will receive more new claims.  

But how can Adjuster B get the same results as Adjuster A in half the time?

Adjuster B has to put a lot of effort and energy into streamlining his claims workflow.  How does he do that?  A lot of ways. But carefully planned time management is going to be the best way. 

One of the biggest things that eats up his schedule is time spent on intaking and routing his new claims, building his schedule, and making fifty phone calls in an afternoon.  

After that, he'll spend even more time updating his activity diary so that his manager knows he contacted his insureds.

That’s a lot of time spent on the phone and tapping away at his laptop.

For many years, field adjusters had no choice but to take at least an entire day to set up, route, schedule, and contact their insureds and then update all of their files - and do it by hand.

But in the last few years, that's started to change.   

In today's video, I crack open Schedule It and show you a few of the cool features of the software - including how to see what IA firms have been assigning claims in the last 7 days AND WHERE.  

Pretty cool.

How much can you earn as an auto independent adjuster?

By Chris Stanley, IA Path Founder and Host of The Independent Adjuster Podcast

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Ahh the age old question… “How much can you earn as an independent auto adjuster?” Or a similar question, “Can you make a living doing auto claims? YES, but it depends on what a good living is for you. Can you become “rich” off of daily auto claims… NO. How much can you earn? Well I’ll try my best to answer that. You can either scroll to the bottom of the page to watch the video or ready my lovely text.. or both…. the choice is yours. (having a choice feels nice right?)

My first year in the business I earned $42,000 as a ROOKIE auto IA. That was only working for one company. I wish I had gotten on with more companies earlier, but over the next few years my income jumped up to $80,000+ a year. I had a few banner years over six figures (Typically when catastrophe played a big role), but for the most part I’d say $80k is what a veteran auto IA can make.

The “stats” on multiple websites state that the average auto damage appraiser/adjuster salary is around $60k. Now this includes staff adjusters at insurance companies, estimators at body shops, in addition to independent auto damage appraisers. It is likely that a successful auto IA would earn MORE than a staff adjuster.

Can I Make Six Figures as an Independent Auto Adjuster?

I’ve talked with other auto IA’s who make well over six figures each year so it IS possible, one gentleman made $150,000 last year doing PHOTOS ONLY claims. He ran around taking photos while someone else wrote the estimates. This isn’t normal, but it goes to show what is possible.

If you haven’t watched any of my videos previously or read any of my books, then you may be unaware that while I love auto claims I do not think it is best to JUST do auto claims. I suggest STARTING in auto and expanding your business to other revenue streams.

The important thing to remember about being an IA is, THAT YOU ARE THE BUSINESS OWNER! You are also the salesman, the technician, the janitor etc. You are an all in one package for your business. You have the control so if you want to earn more… you have no one to rely on or blame, but yourself. You need to go get on additional rosters, expand your territory, and add additional lines of revenue to your business.

There are nearly endless ways to add additional services to your business and as I previously stated doing ONLY auto is not recommended long term. You’ll need to add some of the additional services below to diversify your income and protect yourself against changes and the slow seasons in the industry. Below are a few examples of things you can consider.

Additional Services You May Consider Adding AFTER Auto

 

·       Heavy Equipment (semi-trucks, trailers etc.)

·       RV

·       Motorcycle

·       Property

·       Mechanical Breakdown

·       Classic Car Appraisals

·       Diminished Value

·       Catastrophe

·       Desk Review

·       Desk Deployments (total loss, liability, etc.)

I hope that helps answer your question, if you have more about being an independent auto adjuster feel free to ask in the comments below and don’t forget to WATCH THE VIDEO below and hit the subscribe button for AdjusterTV.

Your Guide,
Chris Stanley

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Become an Auto Adjuster..

IA Path is dedicated to helping you become a working auto adjuster with comprehensive training...

Check out the video on this topic below…

What a Ridealong is and why you should do one

[full video at the bottom of this post]

What is a ridealong?  

The simple definition is that you - the newbie - tag along with a working adjuster in the field as they work their claims.

Now, why would you do this?  

If you've spent any time trying to get more information about this field, you may have heard about something called a "ridealong."  

You probably ALSO heard that you must do a ridealong because the IA firms want to see that you have some experience.  

I just want to clarify that right now:  you don't get experience doing a ridealong.  That's not what it's for.  It's also not really training.  

So what were they talking about then?  A ridealong where you actually do work is a mentorship and it's quite different than a ridealong. 

Alright, Matt..  what IS a ridealong??

A ridealong is basically a job shadow.   You're not writing estimates & you're not interacting with insureds.  

Now why do you do this? 

You do a ridealong so you can see a working adjuster in action and decide if this career is right for you.  Pretty simple. 

It's NOT to get hands-on training.  Again, It's not to get "experience" that you can take to an IA firm.  

So when you approach somebody to ask them if you can ridealong with them, you have to set very clear expectations with them right out of the gate as to what you want to get out of this and how to conduct it so that you get the most benefit AND you don't get in that adjuster's way while they're trying to earn a living.  

Okay??  Make sense?  

So now how do you do a ridealong?

  • First You have to find somebody willing to let you tag along on their next deployment:

    • Network on social media.  You can find people who may be open to letting you ridealong with them in groups like the IA Path Community as well as the AdjusterTV Private Facebook Group.  Or the Learn to Adjust Facebook Group.  Or the Claims Adjuster's Success Network on Facebook.  

      • AND, there are dozens of IA-centered groups on Facebook and LinkedIn - but I warn you to spend some time in the group before posting up that you're looking for a ridealong opportunity.  Get a feel for the kind of people in that group because you want to be sure that A. You don't get slammed by a bunch of salty know it alls and internet lawyers.  And B. That the person you ride along with knows what they're doing.  Not everybody does.

    • Talk to the person who got you interested in this job.  Tell them you're definitely interested and then ask if you can tag along on their next deployment.  If they don't want to, then ask them if they have a buddy who might be willing.

    • Reach out to IA firms and ask them if they know anybody who likes to take adjusters on ridealongs.  Don't be shy - if they say no they don't..  say thanks and hang up.

    • Be creative - this is where your networking can really pay off.

  • What are the expectations you need to have when you go on a ridealong..?

    • Be prepared to travel to any place in the country - this is a MAJOR part of what we do as cat IA's.  If you post up on social media that you're looking for somebody to ridealong with in the Nashville, TN area, you're going to get crickets.  You have to be willing to drive from Dallas to Seattle.  Because that's what we do and if you don't want to do that, then you know, maybe this isn't for you.

    • Be prepared to go on short notice - You also have to be ready to go when the work is there and not at your convenience.  This, again, is very much a big part of the cat IA lifestyle.  You can be planning a big birthday party next weekend for your wife - but if you -as an IA- get the call to go work the Tuesday before, you're gone.  You'll just have to move the party up or take her for a special dinner when you get home.  That is the lifestyle and again, if you want to do a ridealong on your own schedule when it's convenient for you, maybe this isn't for you.  U

      • And understand that you can't just go for a ridealong right at the moment you decide you want to. If it's not storm season and there wasn't a hurricane, all the working adjusters are taking time off.  You'll have to wait until there's work - usually between March and October.

    • Be prepared to pay for your own hotel, fuel, food, and travel expenses - You're going to do this at your own expense.  The adjuster - unless you're related to them - isn't going to let you sleep on their floor or in the other bed in their hotel room.  If you have to, save up $500 so you can pay for fuel and hotels while you're doing your ridealong.

      • IA's have to pay our own expenses and this will give you a little taste of having to spend money to make money.

    • Understand that a ride along will likely not carry much weight with IA firms - I've seen a lot of resumes with 4 ridealongs as all of their experience - but doing this will provide you with an important window into our world - which if you ask me is a lot more valuable as a first step into building this career RIGHT.

  • So HOW do you do a ridealong?

    • Do it for free - and buy the adjuster a nice dinner as a gesture of gratitude.  Do not, under any circumstances, ask to be paid to ridealong with an adjuster.  If you help them in some way, and they want to pay you something, that's on them.  This experience is to help you decide if you want to get into this career.  That's it.

    • However, I personally would offer to ASSIST a working adjuster by carrying and setting up their ladder and doing anything else they need extra hands for.  Printing things out, collating stuff.  Grabbing coffee or breakfast, picking up laundry, etc. It’ll take you a half an hour, but to a working adjuster, that’s HUGE.

      • Do not offer to write estimates for them because then they'll have take extra time to show you how they want it done - and that's not the purpose of the ridealong.  Even if you’re a Level 3 Xactimate wizard, you will still have to be brought up to speed on the carrier estimating guidelines and how this adjuster likes their files put together.

    • Keep it short - 2-4 days is probably more than enough to know if this is right for you.  In fact, you can probably do this over a long weekend and not miss much or any work from your regular day job that you haven't quit yet :)

    • Dress the part - khakis and a solid, non-pastel golf shirt and NO TENNIS SHOES.  Leather hiking shoes or boots are a great option that work well on roofs.  

      • I wouldn't normally suggest buying any gear before deciding if this is right for you, but picking up a pair of Cougar Paws might not be a bad idea - for safety's sake.

Question of the Day:

Are you an experienced adjuster who'd be willing to let a curious newbie tag along for a couple of days with you?  Give us a YES or NO in the comments below!

Never miss a photo when scoping a vehicle [AUTO CLAIMS]

By Chris Stanley, IA Path Founder and Host of The Independent Adjuster Podcast

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Once upon a time a young appraiser (me) had a large coverage area, 3hrs x 3hrs x 3hrs x 3hrs. 

After spending a long twelve-hour day of inspections, I sat down to input the damage from the many cars I had looked at. Upon review of the first file I realized that the very first one could not be completed.

The reason why?

I had forgotten to take a VIN photo.

The owner and I had some great conversation about what had happened and I simply had gotten distracted and forgotten to take the photo. In the end this one photo cost me 6 hours of my life (re-driving out to the border of my coverage area to re-take that photo and driving back).

My hope is that I can help you never experience that pain in your career.

As an auto damage appraiser or adjuster, there are few tasks we are given that are as easy to judge or be judged on as the photos you take. When you receive an assignment from the appraisal company. You are contracted to complete (at minimum):

  1. To document the damage with photos

  2. To write an estimate

  3. To fill out an appraisal report

Both the estimate and appraisal report’s validity are judged and based on the photos we upload to the appraisal and insurance company. Within that assignment that is sent over is a set of guidelines and expectations for you. This is what must be completed for you to be paid for completing the assignment. Review these guidelines before completing an inspection.

Let’s look at the most commonly requested photos first. 

Standard Required Photos

99% of all files that I have ever completed have requested the following photos;

  • Four Corners (Left Front, Right Front, Right Rear, Left Rear)

  • License

  • VIN

  • Odometer

  • Damage Photos (minimum of three)

I will present them in the order I take them in every time. Doing photos in an order and rhythm will ensure THAT YOU NEVER MISS A PHOTO!

Four Corners – The four corners allows anyone who looks at the photos to see the overall condition of the car. Many times you will be able to see a majority of the damage, license plate, and prior damage all from just the four corners.

The key to getting a corner photo correct is to ensure that you can see one end of the car and one whole side of the car. For example, when taking Front corner photo you should stand to the left and front of the vehicle. You should be able to see the entire front and left of the vehicle. a eft Front corner photo you should stand to the left and front of the vehicle. You should be able to see the entire front and left of the vehicle.

I take the photos of the four corners in this order:

  • Lt Front

  • Rt Front

  • Rt Rear

  • Lt Rear

License Plate Photo – The license plate photo is good for identification purposes. The insurance company will be able to verify if this is the correct and if stolen in the future have record of what license plate was on the vehicle they are insuring. It will also provide information regarding when the registration will expire. In the event of a total loss insurance companies will reimburse owners for the months of taxes they pre-paid.

VIN Photo – The VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) is the unique identifier for the vehicle. The VIN is located in multiple places on the vehicle.

  • Windshield/Dash

  • Drivers Side Door

  • Engine

  • Frame of the Vehicle

The best VIN photo to take is the one of the VIN plate on the driver’s door. (or on inside frame or pillar of the door). This will also include the manufacture date which is important when determining if a vehicle qualifies for A/M or LKQ parts. (Like Kind Quality)

Odometer (or Mileage) Photo – Similar to a timestamp on a photo, this photo is a timestamp of when in the cars life span the insurance company inspected the vehicle. It can be useful in future investigations and claim, but once again it also can be a determiner or qualifier for A/M or LKQ parts depending on the insurance company guidelines. The odometer is located on the dashboard behind the steering wheel. In newer vehicles they are all digital, but older models will be analog.

Make sure when you take a mileage photo that the displayed mileage you are taking a photo of is the “odometer” or “odo” and not a “trip” mileage. I’ve had this happen more than a few times and can be frustrating and embarrassing to call an owner asking them their current mileage.

If a vehicles digital dash is displaying the trip it can be a game of hide and seek to find the correct button to change that to display the odometer. Many owners are not aware how to change the dash to display the odometer.

Dash Photo – Although not required on all inspections I highly recommend taking a dash/radio photo after you snap your odometer photo. You only have to move the camera a little and will literally add on two seconds to your inspection. This is important in the case of a total loss, but it also will display a lot of options on the car that could come into question later.

Headliner Photo – Right after I take the dash photo I point the camera (or phone) up and take a photo of the headliner. This shows the condition of the headliner and also shows if the vehicle has a sunroof. This is very important when a vehicle is a total loss or on hail inspections where performing R/I on a sunroof is a big item to miss. I recommend taking a photo of the headliner on every file.

Drivers Door Photo – Stepping back after the headliner photo I snap a picture of the driver’s interior door trim, front seat, and dash. Once again this shows the condition of the vehicle and a lot of the options that may come into question later if the vehicle is a total loss or a part is needing to be replaced. I recommend doing this on every vehicle not just total losses.

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Become an Auto Adjuster..

IA Path is dedicated to helping you become a working auto adjuster with comprehensive training...

Damage Photos – Now onto the main event. After having a conversation with the owner, taking all of the required photos, you can no move onto the damage of the vehicle. Taking good clear photos is essential to the insurance company. If they can’t see it in a photo they will not want you to write it on an estimate. Don’t be afraid to use your finger to point out what you are taking a photo of. I recommend even if the damage is a small scratch that you take at a minimum the following three photos:

  • Looking straight at the scratch

  • One looking from the left of a scratch

  • One looking from the right of a scratch

If the damage is more extensive than a scratch make sure you take a photo of:

  • Every part that is damaged

  • One of the overall damages from the left

  • One of the overall damages from the right

Anything that would justify why you are writing something on your estimate (example hood gap being different from side to side)

Take a measurement photo of the primary point of impact. (Take this photo with the damage photos)

Using a Dent Stick or a Keson Pocket Rod is an easy way to do this. If you use a measurement tape make sure you put the beginning of the tape (before 1 inch) on the ground and measure up to the point of impact. The insurance company wants to see the tape on the ground to the point of impact. Make sure you photo shows the tape or yardstick on the ground for this to count as a proper measurement photo.

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Total Loss Photos

Here is the standard total loss photo’s for most insurance carriers. Don’t forget to also check your guidelines for anything else the insurance company may require.

I recommend you take ALL PHOTOS INCLUDING TOTAL LOSS PHOTOS on EVERY CAR!

Carpet/Front Seat Photo – Taking a photo of the carpet and drivers’ front seat will show the condition and allow for proof of whatever rating you condition the vehicle. The driver’s side carpet and seat are the most used part of the vehicle and will usually be the best reflection of the condition of the vehicle. If the driver’s seat has a tear in it then that will justify a lower rating on the conditioning chart. Between this photo and the driver’s door photo you will have a proper representation of the driver’s seat condition.

Engine Photo – Taking a photo of the engine compartment with the hood up shows how well the vehicles engine has been maintained. If an engine compartment is sparkling clean this will justify a higher rating for total loss conditioning or vice versa. After I take the carpet and front seat photo I’m conveniently located by the hood lever and it makes it a perfect time to pull it and then walk up front and to take my engine photo.

Four Tread Depth Photos – Standard equipment for an auto damage appraiser or adjuster should be a tread depth gauge. You can easily pick one up for a few bucks at any auto parts store.

This gauge shows how much tread is left on the tires. When a vehicle is a total loss the insurance company uses this measurement to rate the condition of the tires. You only have to provide a rating for front and back, but since you already have the gauge out go above and beyond and snap a photo of the depth of all 4 tires. The key is to put the gauge in the center of the tire to get an accurate reading.

You will NEVER miss photos if you…

  1. Read the guidelines prior to the inspection

  2. Take your photos in the same order every time

  3. Take all photos, including total loss photos on ALL VEHICLES.

Getting on the First Call List [INTERVIEW with Schedule It Founder]

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Any independent adjuster who’s ever been on a cat deployment will tell you that yes:

  • you need to know Xactimate

  • you need to know construction

  • you need to know some policy

But the most important thing they’ll all agree on is that if you can’t nail down time management, you won’t last long.

[full video at the bottom]

When people talk about cat claims being a “trial by fire” or like “trying to drink from a fire hydrant..” they’re not saying that because labeling photos is a pain in the butt.

They say those things because SO MUCH STUFF comes flying at you the moment you step foot on a cat site.

She also talks a little bit about how to network and the benefits of attending the NACA convention (National Association of Catastrophe Adjusters).

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Learn more..

Schedule It works on PC and Mac as well as Apple and Android smartphones. It also integrates with all major estimating platforms so your activity diary always stays up to date - automatically.

So you have to have a strategy for handling all the things that will come at on storm.

One of the best ways is to outsource pieces of your workflow to an assistant or a service.

In this video, I sit down with Rebah from Schedule It to talk about how she went from busy cat adjuster to the founder of a software company that specializes in outsourcing your SCHEDULE.

Schedule It is a very powerful platform that will help you save time and be more efficient so that you can close more claims, help more people, and earn more money - all with less stress.

Have you ever done a ridealong with an experienced adjuster? Do you think that it has helped your career? Let us know in the comments!

How to get on an IA Roster with NO EXPERIENCE [PLUS TSI Adjusters Needs You! 👍]

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[full video at the bottom]

Everybody who’s a successful independent adjuster has been there: a license, maybe some training, a pile of gear and a new laptop.. but no experience!

How do you get work if you have no experience??

Many times you’ll get advice to go and sign up with the big IA firms (Pilot, Crawford, Sedgewick, etc) and that’s good advice.

However, because competition can be pretty fierce among the smaller IA firms, many of them will go to extra lengths to find and develop new talent.

When you apply to firms, always ask what resources they have for new people to help you not only get on their roster, but be deployable.

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TSI Adjusters, Inc.

I interviewed Brittany from TSI Adjusters based in Florida and she told me that TSI Adjusters not only has live training to teach you what you need to know as an adjuster, they also have a mentoring program so that you can learn HOW TO BE an adjuster (big difference!).

Have you ever done a ridealong with an experienced adjuster? Do you think that it has helped your career? Let us know in the comments!

Hail Damaged Wood Shake + Haag Education Interview

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Haag Education (what used to be known generically as Haag Engineering) has been in business for 95 years.

As independent cat adjusters, we should know them well. They’ve got a ton of excellent resources that help adjusters identify storm damage as well as be able to identify what is NOT storm damage. I’ve got a bin full of their field books and use them constantly on cat.

In this video, I interview Ryan Holdhusen, Vice President of Haag Education, about just who Haag is, what they offer adjusters, AND some very cool news about their powerful Haag Certified Inspector program.

If you are a cat adjuster and you’ve been able to inspect at least 100 roofs (which is one or two storm’s worth for a new person) and you’re looking to pick up some advanced training that will truly move the needle on your work product and income, STOP looking at the drone training and run don’t walk to the Haag Certified Inspector program.

Whether you do it online or in a live classroom, this training will probably provide the single biggest improvement in your work product than anything else out there. The cost of the training will pay itself back 100-fold the first year and continue to pay dividends for the rest of your career.

Answer to the Question of the Day: A wood shake MUST be split AND have a hail impact that is clearly associated with that split.

A split by itself is likely a footfall. An impact by itself will weather back in to match and does NOT constitute function damage to a wood shake. Roofers will want to argue about this, but this has been the standard for every carrier I’ve worked for since 1999 and it hasn’t changed.

In fact, you can find this information in Haag’s Wood Roofs Damage Assessment Field Guide. Just flip it open to that page and show the roofer that this is the standard you must apply to wood shake (or wood shingles for that matter).

Here’s a classic hail damaged shake:

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No matter what anybody tells you, the shake at the very TOP of this post cannot be counted in your test square.

Close Claims 40% Faster Doing ONE THING [instant results]

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[full video at the bottom]

What's the ONE WAY you can improve your speed and therefore cycle time?

Stop multitasking!

Okay, so you've probably heard for years that if you want to be good at your work, you have to multitask.  You might have even seen it on an insurance job posting or two.  "Excellent multitasking ability required." 

In my experience training adjusters and handling my own claims, if you want to be fast and have solid, low-error files, you have to STOP multitasking.

CLICK HERE for the 2009 Stanford study showing that people who think they’re great at multitasking are actually terrible at it.

CLICK HERE for video from that same report.

But Matt!  With all of the dozens of tasks we have to do in a claim, HOW do I get it all done?

Singletasking: The simplest definition is that you just focus on one thing until it’s done. Then start the next thing - without distraction.

I have the answer...

I call it singletasking.  The simplest definition is that you just focus on one thing until it's done.  Then start the next thing - without distraction.  It is the opposite of multitasking.

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Here are NINE ways you can speed up your cycle time using Singletasking...

Here are 9 fast ways you can speed up your cycle time and reduce time-consuming errors by using SINGLETASKING in your claims workflow..

  • Turn off the TV, internet, talk radio and ANYTHING else that requires you to be an active listener/viewer while you're working on your claims.

  • Turn off your PHONE while you're writing estimates or doing admin work - set office hours for yourself and let it go to voicemail - just LET IT GO

  • Do not check email while you're working on a claim - same thing. 

  • Batch your work - what does that mean?  Here's an example:

    • If you're going to sit down and take care of phone calls, do it all in one go

      • Check voicemail first and write down your messages - all in one go

      • Then start making calls - again, all in one go.  If you've got new claims to contact and voicemails to return, just stack them up and start at the top - work your way down until you're done.  Do NOT answer the phone while you're doing this.  Batch without distraction!

  • Same thing with email - if you're trying to get to a zero inbox, you'll never get there if you're also answering the phone or checking ESPN - COMMENT BELOW IF YOU'VE EVER ACHIEVED ZERO INBOX at work!

  • Same thing with estimates - if you're working on a claim file, work through the estimate in a sensible order and don't stop until there's nothing left you can do - if you're waiting on an ITEL report or a CAD, then get everything else done in the file you can.  Then put it in your pending folder until those reports come through

  • Same thing with scoping - if you're on a field inspection, let calls go to voicemail - with the possible exception of your manager OR somebody you've been playing phone tag with for a week.  

    • The key with BATCHING is that you're only doing one thing at a time to completion. 

  • Put your DND sign on your hotel room door - housekeeping or adjuster buddies are notorious for disrupting workflow if you're in your hotel room working.  Hey, it's happy hour somewhere, right?

  • If you close on site, like I do, go to your car and write it up.  If you hang around inside the insured's house while you write your estimate, sure you'll get to chat the insured up and work on your customer service score BUT it'll take you much longer to write it up AND you'll have more errors.  Not only that, but if the insured isn't that chatty it can be awkward to sit there in their kitchen working on their claim while they're fixing breakfast for their kids.

What do you think? Can you do multiple tasks at once and get more done? Or do you think that focusing on one thing at a time will make you more productive? Let us know in the comments!