Don't Get Kicked Off a Storm!

Getting kicked off a storm? Is that even a thing?


Yes, and here's how it happens: an adjuster fails for some reason - maybe they keep getting asked to make corrections and they keep not doing it, whatever - the IA firm will just stop giving them claims. They may say, "hey thanks for coming out, go ahead and finish up what you have and have a safe trip home!" Or they may not say anything and the adjuster will just not receive any new claims.

The way it usually happens is this:

A. The adjuster stops receiving new claims and be effectively let go from the storm or worse,

B. The adjuster has all their claims taken away and given to another adjuster.

So yes, you CAN get kicked off a storm. How? Let us count the ways:

Number One: Being too slow.

We are there to help the carrier close a large number of storm claims quickly so that their customers aren't sitting around waiting to get their claims resolved.

We have to maintain high quality of course, but there is no reward for being slow.

The three main goals you have as an independent adjuster are:

  1. be good

  2. be nice

  3. be fast

Number Two: Scoping and scoping and scoping like mad with the intention of taking a week and writing them all up.

This sounds good in theory. There's a certain, attractive logic to it…

Just get out there all day from dawn to dusk and climb roofs like there's no tomorrow. Then spend several days or a week or more in your pj's in the cool AC of your hotel room - or heck, why not just go home and do it. It's only a few hours away and you'll be able to save a bunch of money on your hotel and meals out etc. Sleep in your own bed, etc.

It's seductive for sure. But THIS - probably more than any other single thing - will get you in the most trouble.

So what's wrong with running claims this way?

Pretty much everything…

If - weeks into a storm - you suddenly turn in 40 claims there's pretty much a guarantee that you'll have made the same mistakes on every one of those claims. The file reviewers will quickly see that you've made the same mistakes on all your claims and they'll likely call your manager to let them know you're causing a bottleneck in the file review queue.

Your manager will see that you're only just now turning in claims that you inspected 13 days ago AND that they've all got major mistakes in them and he or she will be on the phone so fast to you your head will spin. And even if you don't get any phone calls, now you'll have to REOPEN all of those claims and correct them, which will take you all of another day (or a very late night).

Another reason is this.. you'll likely be writing your estimates from your photos and a crinkled up and sweat-stained scope sheet. If you didn't really know what you were doing and didn't take good photos, your estimates are going to suck. I'll put it this way, even if I - as a 20 year veteran - took perfect photos, my estimates will still be better if I'm on site in case I can't read the measurements I wrote down that got a big drip of sweat on them.

So yes, you CAN get kicked off a storm. How? Let us count the ways..

Long story short you're going to miss damage and what you do write for will be inaccurate - which will affect not only you, but the desk adjuster or other field adjuster who has to clean up the mess you've made on the claim.

Insureds are going to be cranky with you because it's been weeks since you were at their house. You won't have high credibility with cranky people and they will resist you at every turn. And your customer service numbers will be in the basement.

You have a bunch of tree claims that are "just waiting on tree bills." If you've done this before you know that tree guys will go out for WEEKS cutting trees off of properties, many times deep into the night. Unless they are sophisticated, pro operations with an office full of administrative people, they're not going to get to writing out any invoices for anybody until things start to slow down for them. Which means that your tree bill claims will be sitting there on your desk waiting.. and waiting.... And waaaaaiting.

Just write it up and later, when the tree guy finally gets around to invoicing everybody, if it's more, you can work it out then. Don't let claims sit around waiting for tree bills (or really any other kind of bill) when you can estimate it yourself. In fact, that's your job. Most things you can write your own estimate for, including but certainly not limited to, electrical and plumbing repairs, driveway repairs, and patio covers. Trees are no different.

Stuff you can't really write for? Things that you can't tell are damaged or not - "my dishwasher makes a weird sound since the hail storm." They'll have to have Sears or somebody come out and take a look and provide their professional opinion on what's wrong with it, what caused it to break, and how much it will be to repair or replace.

The only thing you should be waiting on is going to be an ITEL report - and those usually turn around in 24-48 hours.

The bottom line on this is if YOU are difficult to work with and you create extra work for the people who are trying to help you get your claims through, you're not going to last long.

Number Three: Not addressing ALL corrections you've been asked to do - OR arguing with the file reviewers.

If you are asked to correct 5 things by a file reviewer, please, for the love of all that is holy, CORRECT THOSE FIVE THINGS. I'll never understand why - when I'm doing file review - an adjuster will correct the first thing and then send the file back up without addressing the other four things in the list I sent them.

Corrections I ask for:

  1. please use the CAT header and opening statement

  2. there are priors with this claim not addressed in your diary - please address

  3. change the vent line items to REPLACE only

  4. correct your depreciation notes - you’ve got XXXX’s where the numbers should be

  5. add steep to your invoice

  6. PLEASE address ALL of the above and REUPLOAD the claim and all supporting docs

Corrections completed and reuploaded by adjuster:

  1. header and opening statement - WTH dude!

If I have to send a file back five times for you to correct the five things I asked for when I sent it back the first time, your manager is going to hear about it. Ain’t got time for that.

If you don't agree with a correction that a file reviewer has asked for, you can send clarification to them. If they hold the line, call your manager and explain what you're trying to do and why you've deviated from the estimating guidelines on this claim. Let your manager make the final call. Don't send nastygrams to the file reviewers calling them names or telling your manager that the file reviewers are a bunch of idiots. You have to understand that most of the time, the file reviewers are going through dozens of claims a day, checking that your i's are dotted and your tees are crossed. They don't have the authority to put something through that violates the rules that the carrier has set down for us. Take it up the chain if you have a situation that you think needs to deviate from the rules.

They also don’t have a lot of time to decipher your claim if you’re trying to do something different than what is expected. If you must deviate from the estimating guidelines, BE CLEAR why you’re doing it.

The bottom line on this is if YOU are difficult to work with and you create extra work for the people who are trying to help you get your claims through, you're not going to last long. Just because we're independent doesn't mean that we don't also have a team there for us. Be there for your team and strive to not make extra work for people and you will go FAR. I promise.

Number Four: Failing to adapt.

The essence of a huge, chaotic cat deployment is time management. Without a doubt. If you can't get organized - in every way - you won't last long. There will be so much coming at you all day long - in phone calls, emails, inspections, estimates, and so on - that if you don't know how to prioritize and manage your time so that you can handle all of that stuff, it will be a miracle if you manage to stay on the storm. This, right here, is the number one reason that people will turn back in all their claims and go home. The amount of overwhelm new adjusters feel on their first storm deployments is staggering.

Everything you need to know about getting started as an Independent Adjuster, in one 40 minute video. Check it out!


In this video, I list several big ways you can get kicked off any cat site. Enjoy!

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.