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!

Claims Process Checklist + Download

One of the most important things you can do to improve your time management skills as an adjuster is to plan.

Having a written checklist that's taped to your wall or is a doc on your computer is an excellent way of keeping track of the critical required tasks you have to complete in order to have a complete claim to send up.

Also, using a checklist along with a timer, you can see how much time you spend on each item on your list and then work to figure out how to reduce that time so you can close claims faster.

It's one thing to say we're streamlining our workflow.  That can and should mean we cut things out that aren't contributing to our outcome of a closed claim.

However, not everything can be cut out and in some cases, the process can't be trimmed any further.  

So how can a claims checklist make you faster?  

Reason #1

Building speed in claims requires repetition.  And when we know exactly what's required, we can concentrate on building up smoothness and speed.  If we're winging it and counting on trying to remember each step as we go, we'll lose momentum because we're spending energy trying to remember.  Also, imagine if you were trying to remember how to drive a stick, but you didn't know how many gears there were or when to shift?  You'd spend all your time trying to figure out how to do it and not really getting anywhere.

So in order to build that muscle memory, we want to be able to move from step to step without flailing around trying to figure out what's next.

Reason #2

So much time is wasted doing corrections.  Many times those corrections are a direct result of forgetting to do something in the claim.

If we run through our checklist as we're doing our claim, we're far less likely to forget steps (for example: "complete hail damage evaluation;" "complete preferred contractor questionnaire").

Reason #3

Time lost doing reinspections and supplements because we missed damage.  Your checklist can and should include steps for different kinds of claims - something as simple as reminders to ask about interior damage on hail claims or to check for personal property damage in the yard, etc.  

It can also save time in your scheduling if you ask ahead of time how many outbuildings there are (strangely, nothing adds time to your field inspections quite like outbuilding inspections).  You'll know ahead of time what you're getting into if you add things like this to your workflow checklist.

I recommend putting a full one up on your wall in your hotel room and having another field one attached to your clipboard for quick reference (you can even laminate it and attach it to your clipboard so that you have a quick reference).

Download a free, editable Claims Checklist with Intake, Scoping, and Estimating checklists:

 
 

Is Being an IA Even Worth It?

My second favorite newbie question. And I want you to know that I take this question very seriously, even though I’m acting a bit silly in the video.

The short answer is Yes.

But it’s more complicated that this.

In order for a person to be successful at a job like this, they really need some grit. This means pushing through even when it’s uncomfortable. It means working when there are other distractions. It means getting out of the comfort zone.

But I know you can do it.

Plan Your Year Month by Month

OOPS!! In the video I say that hurricane season peaks in mid-October - I misspoke! The peak is mid-September.

Make sure that you’re being productive every month!

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As cat adjusters, we’re not always working, but we should always be finding ways to protect our savings and make ourselves more marketable.

Check out this episode of AdjusterTV to learn more!

Forget About Hurricanes

The first time most adjusters heard about catastrophe claims was when a hurricane hit and somebody they knew was gone for a couple of months - and then came home with a pile of money in the bank.

But hurricanes don’t happen every year so how does an IA make any money doing cat work?

Learn more in this episode of AdjusterTV.

Haag Engineering Certified Inspector Program: https://haagcertifiedinspector.com/

2019 Preview!

The first year of AdjusterTV is in the books!

We’ve got so much planned for you in 2019! So much more of what you love to see on AdjusterTV.. Plus a couple of really big surprises!

Thank you so much for watching AdjusterTV. As always, I encourage you to reach out to me through social media or through email.

You can be notified instantly when a new video uploads by CLICKING HERE!

Have a great storm!

(SHOCKING) Some Roofers Cheat

It’s a sad fact, insurance claims and the restoration contracting work that arises from it can be fraught with dishonesty - yes, on both sides.

When an adjuster denies obvious damage because they have an ax to grind with a roofer, that’s as bad as a roofer who is trying to get an undamaged roof bought.

Thankfully, in my experience both of these situations are pretty rare.

And, admittedly, just as rare is the scenario I present in this episode of AdjusterTV..

I’ve caught it three times in my career, but I’m sure it occurs much more often. What is it?

A roof salesperson overcharges a customer. I know, I know.. it’s probably not all that rare.

NOTE TO ROOFERS and other contractors: Situations like this make it difficult to take the tears and bellyaching that comes when we tell you we can’t pay extra for plain ridgecap or 4 extra roofer hours for realigning satellite dishes.

But in this case, the roofer overcharged the insured by at least 5 times.

The two prior times this has come up, it was when I went to settle with the insured and they flipped their lid when they saw how much I was going to give them for their roof. They frantically shook the paid invoices for when they had the roof replaced the year before and in both cases paid at least 3 times what Xactimate came up with.

So what do you do in this situation?

Calmly explain that you’ll be happy to work with whatever contractor they choose. Let them know that once they start getting estimates to call back if they’re coming in higher for the same scope of work.

In the first case (Wisconsin 2008) the insured called me back 3 weeks later to apologize. He learned that he got taken to the cleaners. He told me he should have gotten more than one estimate to get the work done.

Never heard back from the second guy (Brooklyn, NY 2012).

I will always maintain that contractors are, by and large, an honest bunch who are just trying to build their businesses and make a living.

But there are bad apples among them and it’s an uphill battle for them to overcome the conventional wisdom about contractors.

Same goes for IA’s.

Ten of My Favorite Books

I love reading and am always reading something..

I read fiction on my Kindle, business books on Audible, and I buy cookbooks so I can have them open in the kitchen without worrying about splashing my phone or computer with animal guts.

Anyway, the following list of books is just a small sample of the business/personal development books I’ve read over the last few years and are some of my favorite.

If you love book lists like this, let me know in the comments and I’ll make more videos like this!

7 Habits of Highly Effective People Stephen Covey https://amzn.to/2DQPW84

Financial Peace Revisited Dave Ramsey https://amzn.to/2raLwkK

Profit First Mike Michalowicz https://amzn.to/2KIMhdU

Meaning of Marriage Timothy Keller https://amzn.to/2Rou203

Benjamin Franklin Walter Isaacson https://amzn.to/2KHrs2w

Organize Tomorrow Today Selk, Bartow, Rudy https://amzn.to/2rdUMEY

The Obstacle Is the Way Ryan Holiday https://amzn.to/2P9Xmp8

The One Thing Gary Keller and Jay Papasan https://amzn.to/2P7Iyal

Atomic Habits James Clear https://amzn.to/2TWubtb

Independent Adjuster's Playbook Chris Stanley https://amzn.to/2SiVegM

Disclosure: these are affiliate links which earn me very small commissions if you use them - at no cost to you. If you’re not into that, don’t worry! My feelings aren’t hurt. But no matter where or how you buy them, let me know if you’ve read any of these in the comments!

Cat Adjuster Gift Guide

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Cat Adjuster Gift Guide

Jotto Desk for vehicle https://amzn.to/2KoTW0Q

Laptop Stand https://amzn.to/2zl5ldI

Hamper https://amzn.to/2zn5Xjc

Mavic Pro 2 https://amzn.to/2S80Dah

Non-stick Pan https://amzn.to/2KoZrMY

Steep Gear https://steepgear.com

Cougar Paws https://amzn.to/2DDo9I0

Power inverter https://amzn.to/2S7i5vE

Camera https://amzn.to/2S4RC1B

Laptop https://amzn.to/2R3jCCO

Independent Adjuster’s Playbook (iapath.com) https://amzn.to/2SfFbjH

TEAM book https://www.adjustertv.com/book/

Many of these links are affiliate links and therefore I do earn a commission if you buy using them, however there is no additional cost to you.

Are fee schedules negotiable?

I get asked all the time:  what’s a good fee schedule, what’s a good percentage, and is that negotiable?

But what is a “fee schedule?”

A fee schedule is one of the ways that IA firms charge insurance companies for their services.  

The way it works is this:  

..the insurance company has a big storm with a ton of claims that their local folks can’t keep up with.  

They call the IA firm and says, “we’ve got 3500 claims in Chicago and need some extra adjusters.”

The IA firm says, “okay, we’ve got 50 people we can send to you right now.”

So for each one of the claims that the IA firm handles on behalf of the carrier, the IA firm sends the carrier and invoice - for each claim.

The amount of that invoice is determined by a list of rules called the fee schedule 

  • the amount of the claim (hint:  the higher the amount of the claim, the higher the amount on the fee schedule). Counter intuitive that a company that’s trying to save money on your claim is actually paying the adjuster MORE for a BIGGER claim.  Keep that one in your back pocket for when a ktor accuses you of denying a claim because you’re trying to save money for the company)

  • Any add ons - like if the roof is steep or requires special equipment to access, or there is interior damage

  • etc.

So for every claim that an adjuster turns in, he or she also turns in an invoice for that claim - the amount of which is based on the fee schedule that the IA firm and the carrier agreed on previously.

The adjuster and the IA firm split that fee bill.  So the adjuster makes a part of that invoice that the IA firm sends to the carrier.

Now, how that’s split up depends on a few factors.  

  1. The normal split across the industry

  2. Whether there is a huge event that could demand more adjusters than are available - like hurricane Irma

  3. Whether the IA firm is open to negotiation with experienced, veteran adjusters - hint:  not all are.

The typical split these days is 60/40.  60 goes to the adjuster and 40 goes to the IA firm.

When I started, I made 65% of the fee bill, but then that number dropped after a few years to 60%

Under special circumstances, I’ve earned 75% of the fee bill - specifically, after Katrina hit, I was offered a special assignment:  Another carrier had a big hail late season storm in a big Minneapolis suburb.  They made it worth my while and I took it.

Now, what makes a good fee schedule?  I’ve seen so many different fee bills - some high, some low.

I think it’s much more important to take some other factors into consideration:

  • How busy can that IA firm keep you

  • How complex is the carrier’s claims process

So if I had to choose between company A that had a complex claims process, required me to write checks, and had several layers of bureaucracy that I had to deal with - but had a fee schedule 10% higher than company B..

..who has a super streamlined process, Xactimate was the only software I had to deal with, and they have a small - focused team who runs everything and everybody is easily accessible by phone?

Likely going to pick company B.

You've got your adjuster license.. now what??

Okay, so you got your adjuster license..

What’s next?

  1. Don’t quit your day job!!  I highly recommend that you ramp up your claims career starting as a side hustle for your regular current job.  Two ways to do this:

    1. Property photo inspections

    2. Auto photo inspections - and auto - at this point in 2018 is probably the best option in the short term.  You can get up and running extremely quickly and do everything through an app.  Property is good for this as well, but it’s mostly wind/hail at the moment.  That’s changing, but it might be a couple of years before there are property photo inspection opportunities on more complex claims like water claims - GET STARTED HERE.

    3. One of the major benefits of doing this is so that after you quit your day job to go on a cat deployment, you will have built up a nice side hustle that you can stop and start whenever you want - for example:  when you get home from your first storm and don’t know when the next one is.

  2. Save back some money - how much?  Well, this is what I recommend:

    1. An emergency fund of at least three months of living expenses for your family

    2. A storm fund of at least 4 weeks of expenses that you’re likely to have on a cat deployment - fuel, hotel, food, supplies, Xactimate subscription, etc.

    3. If you don’t already have your storm gear (laptop, ladder, etc), you’ll need money set aside to pay for those things BEFORE you get deployed.  

    4. And for training, which we’ll talk about in number 3:

  3. Get trained up yo - The only time I will ever tell you to go on a storm without some kind of training under your belt is if hurricane Katrina is about to make landfall.  With some guidance, you can stumble your way through a huge event like that and have a chance of coming out the other side with some money and the start to a career.

    1. But because those kind of events don’t happen every year, you need to get training

    2. I’ve said this before, and I’ll say forevermore - you can make more as a cat adjuster than 99% of people coming out of college with BA.  

      1. So I don’t want you to skimp on your training.  Switching over to becoming a cat IA is a big deal and to make the kind of money that you’ve heard you can make, you have to be ALL IN.  So much so that it’s really a lifestyle more than a career.

      2. So dig around and find the absolute best training you can get and spend the money on it.  

      3. If you look at it this way, if you get top-shelf training and get your career started properly, you’ll probably be able to pay yourself back for that high quality training in a season or two.  

      4. I mean, would you spend $10,000 if you KNEW that it would return 10x that?  

Wrap up - So there you have it:  the top three things to do after you get your license:

  1. Start a photo inspection side hustle so you can ease in and get paid while doing it.

  2. Start saving for your emergency fund, your gear and expenses, and your training

  3. Get the very best training you can

3 Staff Adjuster Myths BUSTED

In this video, I talk about some myths about being a staff adjuster vs an IA:

Myth #1:  Being a staff adjuster is a more secure job than being an IA

Reality:  While the income may be very reliable - you know exactly how much you’ll be paid every month - and the benefits are pretty nice, major insurance companies are constantly doing reorganizations and changing things up.  Somebody in a cube on the 17th floor of an office building 2500 miles away can decide that it would save the company some money if your job disappeared - not you, of course.  But you might have the choice of moving to a new city on short notice to take another job in the company - or accepting a severance and see ya.

Myth #2:  Being a staff adjuster/employee is better because of the benefits

Reality:  The truth is, the amount of money you are paid as an employee is not the same as the amount of money the company sets aside for your position.

And they’re looking for ways to save money while still offering you health insurance and a 401k.  And you still have to pay at least part of the health insurance out of your own pocket.  

Every situation is different, but the amount of money that was taken out of my check to pay “my part” of  my health insurance benefit was MORE than what Im paying now for Dean and I.  As an IA I’m able to shop around and find better options.  

And as far as your 401k, the matching is nice, but I can assure you that you’ll be able to build a better portfolio on your own.  And you actually have to take advantage of it as well - a surprisingly large percentage of employees don’t take advantage of the 401k’s offered at their companies.  Also, because you’re not getting a benefits package as an IA, you can shop around and find better deals on your own.  Also, you can pick out your own vehicle and take the mileage deduction (which as a staff adjuster you can’t take those miles, the company does).  You can pick your hotel and save money there.  And so on.  

So in essence, as an IA, you can build your own benefits package and save yourself some money, while also finding better products.

Myth #3:  Being a staff adjuster pays less than being an IA

Reality:  The truth is, you can make a very large amount of money in a short period of time as an IA - But if a person gets a job at a big insurance company right out of college, and stays there until they retire - they’ll probably do about the same over the long run as another person who starts out as an IA.

The IA may be able to earn more in the beginning, but the staff person will have many more opportunities to advance in the company and can find themselves in a middle or upper management role that pays more than what the average IA is getting.  

Should you try AUTO CLAIMS? (feat. Chris Stanley)

Today’s video almost didn’t make it up. I dumped an entire full cup of coffee on my laptop as I was uploading and ruined my Macbook Pro.

Thankfully, the video project was on an external drive - phew!

Today we’re talking about auto claims and if you should consider doing auto as an IA.

Check out Chris Stanley over at iapath.com He’s also got an awesome podcast as well!

How I Earned My First $100,000 ($114,000 actually) as a Cat Property IA

It took me 3 years before I made $100,000 as an independent cat adjuster.

If I had known at the beginning what I know now, I’m sure I could have flattened that learning curve.

It’s important to understand that as cat adjusters, we don’t just get our licenses and then show up on a hurricane and BAM, suddenly we have $100,000+ flowing into the bank.

Certainly you can make great money in a short period of time.

But for true longevity, it’s crucial to truly bring your A game at all times. High income on cat deployments is about volume. But you can’t turn in a ton of crappy claims.

In this video, I dive deep on how I distinguished myself as a reliable and easy to work with adjuster.

This is how I got on the first call list and stayed there.