Top Ten Things to Bring on Your First Storm

So you've now got 47 licenses and have applied at every single vendor there is.  You've picked up a good laptop that will last you a few years and taken a bunch of Xactimate classes.

You're probably seeing a considerable amount of equipment recommendations floating around the internet.  Everybody does this a little bit differently, so the only true way to know what to bring with you on a storm is to have some experience.

Here's my shortlist of critical stuff I would buy in advance as a new adjuster:

  1. Ladder - telescoping, folding, extension..  whatever.  Just make sure you can comfortably and safely access any one story roof you encounter.  I'd recommend at least a 16 foot ladder.
  2. 35' or 40' tape measure - you can go for the tennis ball on the 100 footer if you want, but you still have to access the roof.  I used a roller and a 100' tape in the beginning and honestly can't remember when I stopped using them.  It's been years.  The only time I'd need a long, long tape is if I'm measuring fence or an extremely large commercial building.  But I have a laser for that.
  3. Digital camera - I use the Fujifilm XP line of durable snapshot cameras.  Check out my video on this camera and why I like it HERE.  I sure wish Fuji would pay me to talk about this camera :)
  4. Clipboard and graph paper - I've got a great clipboard hack that I'm going to share with you soon!  Some people clip it off to their tool belt.
  5. Tool belt - something basic and cheap that will hold little stuff like calculator, chalk (in a separate pocket), ladder bungee, magnet, and penlight.
  6. Cheap calculator - don't waste your money on scientific calculators.  You'll only ever be using basic functions when working on your scope.  I velcro one of these to my clipboard.
  7. Soapstone or sidewalk chalk for marking the money.
  8. Magnet for showing that you've got steel siding, bungee for your ladder, and a penlight for looking into dark cobwebby places.
  9. Decent pair of quality, breathable hiking shoes AND Cougarpaws.  I like anything with a Vibram sole.  But if you're an active outdoorsperson and wear hiking shoes or boots for your outdoor adventures, just know that walking roofs will rub away the soles on most shoes over the course of a summer.  Save your Vasques, Scarpas, or Zamberlans for the trail.  
  10. File Folder - Most important of all, the heart of my schedule and claims workflow is the 13 Pocket Folder (about $10 at Walmart or office supply stores).  

Here's the stuff I would buy once on site and found that I had a need for it on most claims:

  1. disposable shoe covers - useful on wildfires when you don't want to track ash and soot back into your vehicle.  Also useful on floods and storms with lots of interior damage so you don't have to always be taking your shoes off at the door.
  2. goggles/respirator - if you find yourself on a weight-of-snow type storm where you have to access everybody's attic then a surgical mask and goggles are a pretty good idea, along with your little flashlight.  Not a common storm-type.
  3. rubber boots - good flood gear or if you're looking at lots of sewer and drain backup claims.
  4. snow boots with YakTraks or other anti-slip protection - I've worked a few ice storms where the sidewalks and yards were covered in deep snow and/or solid ice.  No fun falling on one's rear every few steps.
  5. rain gear/poncho - sometimes it just rains all the time.
  6. rope and harness training.  I don't use it very often, but it's nice to have for the 1 or 2 crazy roofs you might see in a season.  If you're very risk averse and don't mind low production, you can use R&H more often.  But for speed, there are ways to get a roof inspection done relatively safely without fall protection.

As a new adjuster, I would counsel you to bring along the minimum and add as needed - every storm is a little different.  You'll find that as you develop your method for handling claims you will find what works best for you.