What is it like to be an independent adjuster who works all the cat deployments they want every year, and maybe has a fun hobby side hustle they do in their downtime?
What does it look like on the other side of all of the chaos, dead-ends, false-starts, expensive gear, and even more expensive training that has no guarantee of getting you anywhere?
All of the headaches you encounter getting started are just a bootcamp for what's to come. Because if you can navigate your way through all of this getting-started stuff, if you can pick yourself up and dust yourself off when you get knocked on your rear (and you WILL get knocked on your rear), if you can set your jaw and grit your teeth and really put your shoulder into this - and just not take no for an answer - then you'll be the kind of person who will do very well as an Independent Adjuster.
I've been a field adjuster for 20 years.
19 of those years it was as an IA and one as a staff adjuster. I didn't start out as a staffer, like so many folks do. But instead, in late 2016, my wife and I decided to plant ourselves in one place so that we could have better access to our fertility doc.
But after some frustration getting pregnant, we moved on and I left my staff position after a year. Very soon after that, I founded AdjusterTV.
And AdjusterTV was something that I had been thinking about and dreaming about for a long time. It's just one of those things - nothing will happen until you take the some action, right?
So I've been not taking no with ATV for going on 2 years now. And you know where that NO comes from? It comes from me.
In the form of:
Not believing that AdjusterTV will help anybody or that anybody will even watch
Not believing that I can truly add value to our industry
Wondering if all of the long hours and late nights will ever add up to anything
Ironically, it's my career as a cat property adjuster that has actually made AdjusterTV possible. If I had a regular 9 to 5 job that I had to show up to year round, I would never have had the downtime between cat deployments that I really needed to get the foundation for AdjusterTV built.
Everything I’ve had to do building AdjusterTV I also had to do in building my career as an adjuster.
You know, video is a passion of mine. I love the gear, the storytelling, the technical side of it, and the people side of it.
It’s what also draws me to claims.
So for me, one of the greatest things about being a cat IA is that I can explore my personal passions - in depth and with extra money if I need it - on the side. In the off-season, I can travel and shoot video and hone my craft so that I can actually make money with it on the side if I want to.
And I can live wherever in the country I want to.
Everything you need to know about getting started as an Independent Adjuster, in one 40 minute video. Check it out!
It wasn't always like this though. When I got started I made some pretty serious mistakes that held me back from getting on first call lists for years longer than it should have.
I didn't network. This alone would have made a massive difference in the number of deployments I received early in my career. I didn't go to my first adjuster conference until 2012 and that was the Xactware Elevate user conference. I didn't do a ridealong with any adjusters when I got started, which would have been invaluable for me to see how a good adjuster gets things done AND to make friends with more experienced adjusters who could give me the inside track on deployments and other opportunities. Which is the heart of networking.
For AdjusterTV AND as an independent adjuster, I'm attending at least one good conference a year going forward.
I didn't get deeper training in damage ID and construction. The quality of my early files wasn't the best. I was getting dinged for missing damage, for paying for stuff that WASN'T damaged, and for writing incomplete estimates because I just didn't know what drip edge was or if drywall texture can be spot repaired or not.
I didn't get MORE licenses. Yes, I complain about working in New York state. But every IA firm I've spoken to calls NY the Golden Ticket license. And why? Is it because NY deployments are better? Not necessarily.. The reason they call it that is because if you apply to their roster and you have a NY license on your resume, they'll fast-track you to the front of the line of people applying to be on their roster - of all the things you can do to demonstrate to an IA firm that you're serious about being an IA, there's really nothing better than the cumbersome and time-consuming licensing process for NY. It's THAT important. I don't have a NY license because I prefer to not to work in New York. But an adjuster with my level of experience can walk on to pretty much any roster they want to. However, when I was getting started? If I had known that the NY license would be so valuable to IA firms, I would have definitely gotten the NY license AND would have dropped everything to run up there and work doing whatever they asked me to for as long as they needed me to.
I didn't get advanced Xactimate training. Let me just humblebrag for a second: I'm fast in Xactimate. But it took me YEARS to get that way and it was all trial and error and sudden A HA moments when I figured out a hack, workaround, or a new keyboard shortcut.
Being fast in Xactimate is more than just using macros and knowing the category code for countertops. You MUST learn the quirks of the software if you want to be able to close claims quickly.
Finally, early on, I would have sought out daily assignments in the downtime instead of going to the beach for months on end. Preserving that cat income with quality off-season work that I could start and stop easily, even from the start, would have set me up for an early retirement. In addition to that, building relationships with other daily IA firms (who mostly also do cat), would have provided me with greater deployment opportunities as well (which brings us back to networking).
The rewards of this career are great. Its not for everybody though. It's risky, yes. But it's far riskier for people who don't have the courage and perseverance to keep pushing through when big challenges get in their way. It's not for the faint of heart.
But if you've got some grit and you're not afraid to take a leap into a risky, but very much worth world where you get to decide how you want to work, then becoming an Independent Adjuster is for you.
Thank you so much for watching and have a great storm!
In this video, I share some insights into why I love being a cat IA. I also show a bunch of the best footage from some of my side-hustle video projects I’ve done for clients over the years.
*I almost used #CATlife buuuuttt…..