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


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


  • 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.

Mathew Allen

I teach new catastrophe adjusters how to get started in the business.  I also build my own websites and sites for friends (who sometimes pay me).  In addition, I film and produce personal adventure videos for hunting and fishing clients.