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!
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.
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.
15 years from now.
40 years from now.
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?
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?
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.