#IAlife*

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:  

  • Procrastination

  • 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.

Enjoy!

*I almost used #CATlife buuuuttt…..

 
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Retire Early [The Jay Leno Way]

 

[Scroll to the bottom to see if you won the Starbucks Gift Card!]

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So what can Jay Leno teach us about hitting our financial goals - even including an early retirement?

Set aside the fact that he's a famous celebrity millionaire aside, there are a few fundamental habits that Jay Leno cultivated from the very beginning of his working life - at McDonald's.

Number one: 

He pays cash for everything.  It is said that the borrower is a slave to the lender.  If you hit financial hard times and the things you own are owned by a bank or lender, then if you can't keep paying your payments, they'll come take that stuff away. 

So a couple of ways to avoid borrowing?  

Well, first is to realize that having a lot of STUFF isn't going to make you happy.  Will a gently used vehicle you buy for cash do the same job as a brand new one?  Yes.

Second is to try to be disciplined.  Save up for those things.  

Realize that the thing you buy with money you spend months saving for will be far more valuable to you than the thing that you, on a whim, whip out the credit card and buy on the spot.


Number two:

Be discerning with your money.  

Jay Leno has famously said he never uses valet parking.  I honestly don't think he says this because he's trying to save money... But consider that even though you CAN afford to pay for valet parking everywhere you go, or you CAN afford to run through Starbucks every single day on your way to work..  consider what else you could have spent that money on - or saved it up for.

No, I'm not saying to never do those things or to occasionally indulge in some little luxuries here and there.  But if a person spends money on those things all the time, and is worried about how they're going to fund their retirement, maybe let's work on our priorities.

This goes for new cars, big houses, and big tvs.  You're kinda spending your retirement now.  Is that worth it?  

Realize that the thing you buy with money you spend months saving for will be far more valuable to you than the thing that you, on a whim, whip out the credit card and buy on the spot.

Up to you.

Real quick - while we're on the topic - who did you like better:  Carson or Leno?  Answer in the comments below.


Number Three:

And this is the big one I really wanted to get to..

It is said that Jay Leno didn't live off of or spend his Tonight Show earnings, which were reportedly as high as $30 million a year.

What did he do with that money?

He saved it.

So what did he live on?

Jay lived off the income he earned from doing 150 stand up comedy shows a year - and saved his Tonight Show salary (still does stand up even today).

What he did was:

He ALWAYS has two jobs - even now - and this is the big secret:  he always saves the bigger income and lives off the lower income.

So he was working at a car dealership and doing comedy at night - he lived off his comedy income when he was just starting out and saved his dealership income.  When he started making more money in comedy, he kept his dealership job and lived on THAT income..  while saving his higher comedy earnings.

Freaking brilliant.

So how can you apply this to claims?

I've said in at least one previous video that you need a side hustle (click up here).  And why did I say that?

Because I want you to protect the money you make all summer doing cat claims.  You don't want to work all summer and live off that money all winter and then when storm season rolls around again, you're broke.  Believe me.  I did it for several years when I got started.

Jay's way takes this even farther.  

You live off of your side hustle.  And you save ALL of your cat earnings.  

I'm not going to sit here and second guess what your financial goals might be..  But if you're anything like me..  while I love running claims and traveling for work and all that..  If somebody said, "keep climbing roofs or retire today and go travel for fun and play golf and make AdjusterTV videos.."

(What do you think I would say?)

So let's run some numbers..

Let's say in the off-season, you can earn enough money to pay your bills.  In 6 months you -  and maybe combined with a spouse's income - can cover your bills and keep food on the table.

So if we take the worst year you might have running claims - assuming that you've got some experience and you're not a complete noob who's not guaranteed to do very well your first year - you're up and running and you bring home ONLY $60,000.  

If you were able to save all of your cat earnings at $60,000 a year, in ten years you'd have $600,000.  And at a safe withdrawal rate of 4%, that's $24,000 a year in interest income.  Kinda hard to live off of that, but it can be done.

You can also pay off your house, and reduce your monthly expenses, which makes living off of $24,000 a year a lot easier.

But every year isn't going to be the worst case scenario.  

Once you get up and running as a cat IA, you can have a great season where you bring home $140,000.

Even though I say to never count on events like Irma and the crazy income people were making  on that storm..  they still happen.

So you get a a crazy outlier year where you bring home $225,000. 

And you save it.  Not out of the realm of possibility to have that happen once, maybe twice, in a ten year career.

And those are low numbers.  Most really good IA's make quite a bit more than $60,000 a year on average.  

Again, we're talking in LESS THAN 12 months.  Don't think of it as annual income because it isn't.  You've got the rest of the year to do whatever you want.  No boss, no commute.  No emails.  I think you get the idea.

Let's put it this way.

If I told you that you could retire from running claims on the road in ONLY ten years - but you had to deliver pizza, and wait tables, and sell roofs, and maybe sell Mary Kay for 6 months out of the year..  Would you do it?

You don't even have to make that choice.  

Because as a skilled, trained, licensed adjuster, you can run daily claims during the off season and potentially make as much as you do on cat.

I'm just saying.  Just throwing this out there.  

You know, if you have zero intention of doing anything with insurance, you can still use Jay Leno's method to reach your financial goals.  

But if you're serious about making a huge impact on your life and your family's life, becoming an independent adjuster doing cat AND daily can really accelerate your savings goals and get you out of the rat race in less time than you can imagine.

It's real.


Question of the Day:

For you millennials out there and older folks who still stay up watching late night tv..

Kimmel or Fallon?

Starbucks $10 Gift Card Winners: James Defalco, John Cayot, and Paul Koski! Send me an email at mathew@adjustertv.com and I’ll send you your gift cards!

Hotels vs RVs [by popular demand]

Let’s settle this once and for all.. Which is better for a traveling catastrophe independent adjuster?

In this video, I’ll compare hotels and RVs based on Price, Convenience, and Comfort.

Also, which RV do I think is ideal for running cat claims as well as which hotel is my favorite?

The Starbucks gift card comment contest is over. To see if you won, watch Thursday, May 16th’s video!

Don't Ruin Your Career with Social Media

 
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(No newbies were harmed in the making of this post)

We've all seen it: 

The newbie posts up a basic question on Facebook and they get skewered by a pack of trolls who shred them for even THINKING a newbie thought.  

So what's so wrong with that?  We've still got freedom of speech in America and if a person wants to say how much they hate this or that thing or group, who cares, right?  I may not agree with their views, but the First Amendment is one of our most cherished privileges in this country.  Plus, I can unfriend them or hide them from my feed.

Well, insurance companies might care.  Or IA firms.  Or even a PA or attorney...!  

It recently came to my attention from several different people that some IA firms were watching social media.  I was told that if they saw somebody being a jerk to a newbie in a facebook group that they would immediately check and see if the rude person was on their roster and then "take measures" from there.  In some cases going as far as kicking that person off of their roster.

Now, it could be argued that I'm not doing our industry any good by saying this.  After all, if a person is going to be an jerk to a new adjuster or somebody interested in this business, how are they going to treat an insured?  We should let those rude know-it-alls hang themselves with their own words, right?  

Well, I thought long and hard about doing this video for that reason.  In the end, I feel that it's more of a benefit if I get this message out than if I don't say anything.  Besides, most of the people who troll in social media probably don't watch my videos - and even if they do, maybe they'll see that they can't just sucker punch people through a computer from the safety of their mom's basement and get away with it for long.  

That what they do online can have real consequences - not the least of which is getting blackballed from a roster (or rosters).

The biggest part of our job as claims adjusters is customer service.  That requires us to have empathy..  and to treat people with dignity and respect...  not just customers.

And this doesn't just go for being a jerk in the comments..

If a public adjuster or attorney sees your activity online, they may be able to use it against you in court.  I was told a story about an adjuster who posted a photo of a beer next to his laptop while working on claims - probably years prior.  One of his claims went to court and the PA searched the adjuster's social media feed and found that pic and then had a big Perry Mason moment of showing how the adjuster was drinking when he wrote the estimate - which the adjuster denied up until the photo was revealed from his social media feed. 

Listen, here's the deal:  

The biggest part of our job as claims adjusters is customer service.  That requires us to have empathy..  and to treat people with dignity and respect...  not just customers.

I've seen adjusters standing in an insured's front yard on a reinspection, giving them their opinion about everything that pops into their mind, telling them that their previous adjuster was an idiot for not seeing x or y..  I've seen them arguing with the roofer, and correcting everything everybody says because hey, they're the EXPERT on adjustering and everybody needs to know how great THEY think THEY are.

That person is a troll.  And IA firms don't want that guy representing them in the field.  Neither do carriers.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret: nobody cares about what you think or what you think you know.

When I’m running claims, they don’t care about what I think either.

They only care about how we can help them. If we concentrate on the outcome of the claim then things will go much smoother for everybody.

How do you know you’re a troll?

Number One: You've nominated yourself chief of the grammar police.

If a newbie posts something and you understood what they said, then that post was a success - even if everything was misspelled and they used there instead of they're.  In case you didn't know, humans MADE UP language so we could communicate with each other - NOT so we could show each other how much we know arbitrary rules better than somebody else.  And grammar and spelling are sets of arbitrary rules.

Number Two: You think honesty is the best policy.

You feel compelled to share your "opinion" with people, even if it's going to hurt their feelings or cause controversy - because, "hey, I'm just being honest and honesty is the best policy, right?"  Wrong.  By this standard, if I walk into a person's house and I don't like their home decor, I have every right to say, "your home decor is garbage, have you thought about remodeling?  Hey, I'm just being honest!"  Does that have anything to do with closing that claim?  Does it?  No.  Therefore honesty is NOT the best policy.  Closing that claim is the best policy!  And anything that doesn't CONTRIBUTE to that is going to make that harder for you.

Or...  "actually, yes.  Those pants DO make your butt look pretty big honey.  But I love your big butt!  Hey, I'm just being honest!"  

Think about it:  what's the best outcome here?  That your wife should appreciate that you're an honest guy?  Is that really what we're hoping to achieve here??  (I'll let you work that one out)

In short:  don't LIE.  But also, don't think you have to always speak your mind in an inappropriate spirit of total honesty.

Number Three: Finally, you think it's okay to build yourself up by tearing somebody else down. 

For example:  "anybody who doesn't know what TPO is shouldn't be an adjuster."  "Anybody who doesn't have their [insert special certification here] shouldn't be allowed to touch a claim."  When you say that, we can only assume that YOU know what a TPO roofing system is or that YOU have that super special certification.  Which means that you're trying to make yourself look better by disqualifying those who don't have that knowledge.  

What you're telling me is that YOU are insecure and never learned that fundamental thing about yourself - nor are you capable of seeing things from outside of your own perspective - which is a critical customer service skill in our industry.


So long story short, what you say and do on social media has consequences, in some cases pretty serious.  Clean up your feed and delete photos and other posts that you wouldn't want your grandma to see (you know, if she's a normal grandma and not an outlaw biker).

Why you won't make it as a cat adjuster (and what you can do about it)

Okay, tough love time, my friends.

In this video, I’m gonna lay it all out for you - it doesn’t matter if you are:

  • an Xactimate Master

  • a damage identification Guru

  • a construction Genius

  • a policy NERD

..If you don’t have your time management nailed down, you’re going to fail at one of the most lucrative careers in the insurance industry.

But all is not lost - even though everybody has a hot opinion about how to run your claims on cat, there IS an intelligent way to do it.

One that promises no late nights, either.

Check out the video for more..

The masterclass is closed at this time. Stay tuned to learn about future free training opportunities with adjustertv.

DAILY vs CAT PROPERTY [Mid Am Cat Interview]

 
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Headquartered in beautiful Mobile, AL since 2013, Mid-America Catastrophe Services was founded in 1980 with the goal of perfecting the claim management process.

MAC retains the commitment to excellence that has been the cornerstone of their company for more than 30 years. They couple quality and experience with innovative practices. Their objective is to provide insurance companies and their insureds with complete, accurate claims handling in a timely manner.

Mid-America Cat’s Mission: Do whatever we MUST to deliver the MOST.

Utilizing their unique blend of technology, experience, and knowledge across a wide variety of disciplines, they provide solutions commensurate with their clients’ needs. Their staff is committed to doing the right things the right way every day.

 
 

Check out the exclusive interview with gene and Keith from Mid-America cat:

The End of Insurance as We Know It?? [ROUNDTABLE]

 
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This video is a juicy one..

Chris Stanley with IApath.com invited me to be a part of a graduation open house (online) for his students.

So sit back with some popcorn and enjoy as you learn what industry pros see coming for us in the insurance industry.

There was an all-star panel of guests including:

Rob Galbraith - best-selling author of “The End of Insurance as We Know It”

Jason Heenan - Royal Adjusting Services owner and host of the popular “AdjusterTalk” podcast.

Adam Painter: Host of the new independent adjusting podcast “The Adjuster Show” and owner of ap-adjusting.com, a site dedicated to curating the best resources for independent claims adjusters.

John Bachmann - A true insurance Renaissance Man who contributes to the fast-growing YouTube channel, The Insurance Nerdery.

So sit back with some popcorn and enjoy as you learn what industry pros see coming for us in the insurance industry.

The video hits the highlights of the open house/roundtable.

Watch the 50+ minutes of industry pros talking about our industry:

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Want to join an IA Path Open House?

For future all-star open houses, check out Chris Stanley’s IA Path website!

How to inspect a hail damaged vehicle

By Chris Stanley, IA Path Founder and Host of The Independent Adjuster Podcast

 
 

This adjusting superpower will give you x-ray like vision to see hail dents that average adjusters and owners cannot see. There are many misconceptions on how to properly look at a vehicle, but this is the technique of true professionals. 

I want you to do an exercise the next time you are outside with your vehicle. Look at your hood and find reflections in your hood. Do you see the clouds? How about the light pole? Telephone or power wires? The old barn? Whatever you see in your reflection off the hood, focus on one object. Now move your head and keep track of your object. Walk to the left, now the right. Were you able to keep the reflection the whole time? Good.

Now I want you to find a hard-line in the reflection. This is a light pole, edge of a roof, anything that is solid and a different color than its surroundings.  Your goal each and every time you look at a hail damaged panel is to find a hard-line reflection. Find one that is straight and stands out in the reflection.

When you move your head and the hard-line comes across a hail dent, you will see your light bending superpower in action. The hard-line reflection will bend to the shape of the hail dent. It will become distorted and reveal how far the metal has been stretched. This is because the metal is not flat at this spot. 

That is how you find dents and properly size the dents. When looking at a dent on a hood what you can see with your naked eye is only part of the stretched metal. When you use your light bending powers, you will see the true size of the dent.

This same technique is extremely useful in counting the dents across a panel. Each time you see the reflection flicker or go distorted you know a hail dent is present. 

You are armed with the knowledge to see the damage that is present on a vehicle, have a basic understanding of the repair operations, and how to determine what is best for each panel. We now need to pull all of it together to make notes to be able to create a digital estimate. 

We document the damage of the vehicle in the same manner that we take photos of the vehicle, the same way each time. We start at the same place, left front, and go the exact same route around the vehicle as we did with the photos. 

Below is my guide to the order in which you should inspect hail damage panel by panel.

 
 

Do you see how doing the photos and the scoping in the exact same order would ensure you are consistent and give you a rhythm to follow? You may have your own order already established and I’m not challenging anyone’s methods, but it needs to be the same every time. As your guide I encourage you to do it the way I’ve laid out, to take my advice, and to apply my methods.

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Become an Auto Adjuster..

IA Path is dedicated to helping you become a working auto adjuster with comprehensive training...

Check out the video on this topic below…

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The Most Expensive Adjusting School [Is It Worth It?]

 
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There are many adjuster training schools out there. A great many of them offer outstanding results and can also boast a large number of successful alumni.

Yes, it’s true: There is a lot of training that you can get to become an independent adjuster that concentrates on one or a few aspects of the work that we do: one school may concentrate on the estimating software, another school may excel at providing construction knowledge, and yet another that focuses on customer experience, and so on.

But there is one school that synthesizes every aspect of claims handling into one comprehensive school.

The Veteran Adjusting School 6 week program was designed by independent cat adjusters with decades of experience between them. The classroom and field coursework is taught by experienced independent adjusters. Students receive an Xactimate Level 2 Certification in the first week.

But is it worth it?

Consider this: outside of specialized engineering and math degrees, a college graduate with a Bachelor’s degree can count on an average starting salary less than $40,000 a year. And that’s after spending 4 or more years and an average of $127,000 total (including room and board) at a liberal arts university.

Imagine if you had the potential to earn $100,000 a year or more and you only had to spend $22,000 to do it? Not only that, but instead of 4 YEARS in school, you only need to spend 6 weeks and you had a very high chance of immediate job placement THE DAY YOU ARRIVED AT SCHOOL?

VAS students side-step the 2-4 year experience requirement that many IA firms have for new adjusters

VAS students side-step the 2-4 year experience requirement that many IA firms have for new adjusters. In addition, VAS partners with more than 25 Independent Adjusting firms for job placement assistance.

So I’ll leave it up to you to decide if the most expensive adjuster training school is worth it to you.

Veteran Adjusting School is not easy to get into, but compared to weekend bootcamps, ride-alongs with adjusters who are unskilled in training, and 3-5 day adjuster crash courses, isn’t it worth it to give yourself the best chance of success by seeking out the highest quality training?

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Want to know more?

Watch the exclusive interview with Guy Grand, VAS co-founder:

What a Ridealong is and why you should do one

[full video at the bottom of this post]

What is a ridealong?  

The simple definition is that you - the newbie - tag along with a working adjuster in the field as they work their claims.

Now, why would you do this?  

If you've spent any time trying to get more information about this field, you may have heard about something called a "ridealong."  

You probably ALSO heard that you must do a ridealong because the IA firms want to see that you have some experience.  

I just want to clarify that right now:  you don't get experience doing a ridealong.  That's not what it's for.  It's also not really training.  

So what were they talking about then?  A ridealong where you actually do work is a mentorship and it's quite different than a ridealong. 

Alright, Matt..  what IS a ridealong??

A ridealong is basically a job shadow.   You're not writing estimates & you're not interacting with insureds.  

Now why do you do this? 

You do a ridealong so you can see a working adjuster in action and decide if this career is right for you.  Pretty simple. 

It's NOT to get hands-on training.  Again, It's not to get "experience" that you can take to an IA firm.  

So when you approach somebody to ask them if you can ridealong with them, you have to set very clear expectations with them right out of the gate as to what you want to get out of this and how to conduct it so that you get the most benefit AND you don't get in that adjuster's way while they're trying to earn a living.  

Okay??  Make sense?  

So now how do you do a ridealong?

  • First You have to find somebody willing to let you tag along on their next deployment:

    • Network on social media.  You can find people who may be open to letting you ridealong with them in groups like the IA Path Community as well as the AdjusterTV Private Facebook Group.  Or the Learn to Adjust Facebook Group.  Or the Claims Adjuster's Success Network on Facebook.  

      • AND, there are dozens of IA-centered groups on Facebook and LinkedIn - but I warn you to spend some time in the group before posting up that you're looking for a ridealong opportunity.  Get a feel for the kind of people in that group because you want to be sure that A. You don't get slammed by a bunch of salty know it alls and internet lawyers.  And B. That the person you ride along with knows what they're doing.  Not everybody does.

    • Talk to the person who got you interested in this job.  Tell them you're definitely interested and then ask if you can tag along on their next deployment.  If they don't want to, then ask them if they have a buddy who might be willing.

    • Reach out to IA firms and ask them if they know anybody who likes to take adjusters on ridealongs.  Don't be shy - if they say no they don't..  say thanks and hang up.

    • Be creative - this is where your networking can really pay off.

  • What are the expectations you need to have when you go on a ridealong..?

    • Be prepared to travel to any place in the country - this is a MAJOR part of what we do as cat IA's.  If you post up on social media that you're looking for somebody to ridealong with in the Nashville, TN area, you're going to get crickets.  You have to be willing to drive from Dallas to Seattle.  Because that's what we do and if you don't want to do that, then you know, maybe this isn't for you.

    • Be prepared to go on short notice - You also have to be ready to go when the work is there and not at your convenience.  This, again, is very much a big part of the cat IA lifestyle.  You can be planning a big birthday party next weekend for your wife - but if you -as an IA- get the call to go work the Tuesday before, you're gone.  You'll just have to move the party up or take her for a special dinner when you get home.  That is the lifestyle and again, if you want to do a ridealong on your own schedule when it's convenient for you, maybe this isn't for you.  U

      • And understand that you can't just go for a ridealong right at the moment you decide you want to. If it's not storm season and there wasn't a hurricane, all the working adjusters are taking time off.  You'll have to wait until there's work - usually between March and October.

    • Be prepared to pay for your own hotel, fuel, food, and travel expenses - You're going to do this at your own expense.  The adjuster - unless you're related to them - isn't going to let you sleep on their floor or in the other bed in their hotel room.  If you have to, save up $500 so you can pay for fuel and hotels while you're doing your ridealong.

      • IA's have to pay our own expenses and this will give you a little taste of having to spend money to make money.

    • Understand that a ride along will likely not carry much weight with IA firms - I've seen a lot of resumes with 4 ridealongs as all of their experience - but doing this will provide you with an important window into our world - which if you ask me is a lot more valuable as a first step into building this career RIGHT.

  • So HOW do you do a ridealong?

    • Do it for free - and buy the adjuster a nice dinner as a gesture of gratitude.  Do not, under any circumstances, ask to be paid to ridealong with an adjuster.  If you help them in some way, and they want to pay you something, that's on them.  This experience is to help you decide if you want to get into this career.  That's it.

    • However, I personally would offer to ASSIST a working adjuster by carrying and setting up their ladder and doing anything else they need extra hands for.  Printing things out, collating stuff.  Grabbing coffee or breakfast, picking up laundry, etc. It’ll take you a half an hour, but to a working adjuster, that’s HUGE.

      • Do not offer to write estimates for them because then they'll have take extra time to show you how they want it done - and that's not the purpose of the ridealong.  Even if you’re a Level 3 Xactimate wizard, you will still have to be brought up to speed on the carrier estimating guidelines and how this adjuster likes their files put together.

    • Keep it short - 2-4 days is probably more than enough to know if this is right for you.  In fact, you can probably do this over a long weekend and not miss much or any work from your regular day job that you haven't quit yet :)

    • Dress the part - khakis and a solid, non-pastel golf shirt and NO TENNIS SHOES.  Leather hiking shoes or boots are a great option that work well on roofs.  

      • I wouldn't normally suggest buying any gear before deciding if this is right for you, but picking up a pair of Cougar Paws might not be a bad idea - for safety's sake.

Question of the Day:

Are you an experienced adjuster who'd be willing to let a curious newbie tag along for a couple of days with you?  Give us a YES or NO in the comments below!

Getting on the First Call List [INTERVIEW with Schedule It Founder]

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Any independent adjuster who’s ever been on a cat deployment will tell you that yes:

  • you need to know Xactimate

  • you need to know construction

  • you need to know some policy

But the most important thing they’ll all agree on is that if you can’t nail down time management, you won’t last long.

[full video at the bottom]

When people talk about cat claims being a “trial by fire” or like “trying to drink from a fire hydrant..” they’re not saying that because labeling photos is a pain in the butt.

They say those things because SO MUCH STUFF comes flying at you the moment you step foot on a cat site.

She also talks a little bit about how to network and the benefits of attending the NACA convention (National Association of Catastrophe Adjusters).

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Learn more..

Schedule It works on PC and Mac as well as Apple and Android smartphones. It also integrates with all major estimating platforms so your activity diary always stays up to date - automatically.

So you have to have a strategy for handling all the things that will come at on storm.

One of the best ways is to outsource pieces of your workflow to an assistant or a service.

In this video, I sit down with Rebah from Schedule It to talk about how she went from busy cat adjuster to the founder of a software company that specializes in outsourcing your SCHEDULE.

Schedule It is a very powerful platform that will help you save time and be more efficient so that you can close more claims, help more people, and earn more money - all with less stress.

Have you ever done a ridealong with an experienced adjuster? Do you think that it has helped your career? Let us know in the comments!

How to get on an IA Roster with NO EXPERIENCE [PLUS TSI Adjusters Needs You! 👍]

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[full video at the bottom]

Everybody who’s a successful independent adjuster has been there: a license, maybe some training, a pile of gear and a new laptop.. but no experience!

How do you get work if you have no experience??

Many times you’ll get advice to go and sign up with the big IA firms (Pilot, Crawford, Sedgewick, etc) and that’s good advice.

However, because competition can be pretty fierce among the smaller IA firms, many of them will go to extra lengths to find and develop new talent.

When you apply to firms, always ask what resources they have for new people to help you not only get on their roster, but be deployable.

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TSI Adjusters, Inc.

I interviewed Brittany from TSI Adjusters based in Florida and she told me that TSI Adjusters not only has live training to teach you what you need to know as an adjuster, they also have a mentoring program so that you can learn HOW TO BE an adjuster (big difference!).

Have you ever done a ridealong with an experienced adjuster? Do you think that it has helped your career? Let us know in the comments!

Hail Damaged Wood Shake + Haag Education Interview

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Haag Education (what used to be known generically as Haag Engineering) has been in business for 95 years.

As independent cat adjusters, we should know them well. They’ve got a ton of excellent resources that help adjusters identify storm damage as well as be able to identify what is NOT storm damage. I’ve got a bin full of their field books and use them constantly on cat.

In this video, I interview Ryan Holdhusen, Vice President of Haag Education, about just who Haag is, what they offer adjusters, AND some very cool news about their powerful Haag Certified Inspector program.

If you are a cat adjuster and you’ve been able to inspect at least 100 roofs (which is one or two storm’s worth for a new person) and you’re looking to pick up some advanced training that will truly move the needle on your work product and income, STOP looking at the drone training and run don’t walk to the Haag Certified Inspector program.

Whether you do it online or in a live classroom, this training will probably provide the single biggest improvement in your work product than anything else out there. The cost of the training will pay itself back 100-fold the first year and continue to pay dividends for the rest of your career.

Answer to the Question of the Day: A wood shake MUST be split AND have a hail impact that is clearly associated with that split.

A split by itself is likely a footfall. An impact by itself will weather back in to match and does NOT constitute function damage to a wood shake. Roofers will want to argue about this, but this has been the standard for every carrier I’ve worked for since 1999 and it hasn’t changed.

In fact, you can find this information in Haag’s Wood Roofs Damage Assessment Field Guide. Just flip it open to that page and show the roofer that this is the standard you must apply to wood shake (or wood shingles for that matter).

Here’s a classic hail damaged shake:

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No matter what anybody tells you, the shake at the very TOP of this post cannot be counted in your test square.

Plan Your Year Month by Month

OOPS!! In the video I say that hurricane season peaks in mid-October - I misspoke! The peak is mid-September.

Make sure that you’re being productive every month!

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As cat adjusters, we’re not always working, but we should always be finding ways to protect our savings and make ourselves more marketable.

Check out this episode of AdjusterTV to learn more!

Forget About Hurricanes

The first time most adjusters heard about catastrophe claims was when a hurricane hit and somebody they knew was gone for a couple of months - and then came home with a pile of money in the bank.

But hurricanes don’t happen every year so how does an IA make any money doing cat work?

Learn more in this episode of AdjusterTV.

Haag Engineering Certified Inspector Program: https://haagcertifiedinspector.com/

(SHOCKING) Some Roofers Cheat

It’s a sad fact, insurance claims and the restoration contracting work that arises from it can be fraught with dishonesty - yes, on both sides.

When an adjuster denies obvious damage because they have an ax to grind with a roofer, that’s as bad as a roofer who is trying to get an undamaged roof bought.

Thankfully, in my experience both of these situations are pretty rare.

And, admittedly, just as rare is the scenario I present in this episode of AdjusterTV..

I’ve caught it three times in my career, but I’m sure it occurs much more often. What is it?

A roof salesperson overcharges a customer.

I know, I know.. it’s probably not all that rare.

NOTE TO ROOFERS and other contractors: Situations like this make it difficult to take the tears and bellyaching that comes when we tell you we can’t pay extra for plain ridgecap or 4 extra roofer hours for realigning satellite dishes.

But in this case, the roofer overcharged the insured by at least 5 times.

The two prior times this has come up, it was when I went to settle with the insured and they flipped their lid when they saw how much I was going to give them for their roof. They frantically shook the paid invoices for when they had the roof replaced the year before and in both cases paid at least 3 times what Xactimate came up with.

So what do you do in this situation?

Calmly explain that you’ll be happy to work with whatever contractor they choose. Let them know that once they start getting estimates to call back if they’re coming in higher for the same scope of work.

In the first case (Wisconsin 2008) the insured called me back 3 weeks later to apologize. He learned that he got taken to the cleaners. He told me he should have gotten more than one estimate to get the work done.

Never heard back from the second guy (Brooklyn, NY 2012).

I will always maintain that contractors are, by and large, an honest bunch who are just trying to build their businesses and make a living.

But there are bad apples among them and it’s an uphill battle for them to overcome the conventional wisdom about contractors.

Same goes for IA’s.

Are fee schedules negotiable?

I get asked all the time:  what’s a good fee schedule, what’s a good percentage, and is that negotiable?

But what is a “fee schedule?”

A fee schedule is one of the ways that IA firms charge insurance companies for their services.  

The way it works is this:  

..the insurance company has a big storm with a ton of claims that their local folks can’t keep up with.  

They call the IA firm and says, “we’ve got 3500 claims in Chicago and need some extra adjusters.”

The IA firm says, “okay, we’ve got 50 people we can send to you right now.”

So for each one of the claims that the IA firm handles on behalf of the carrier, the IA firm sends the carrier and invoice - for each claim.

The amount of that invoice is determined by a list of rules called the fee schedule 

  • the amount of the claim (hint:  the higher the amount of the claim, the higher the amount on the fee schedule). Counter intuitive that a company that’s trying to save money on your claim is actually paying the adjuster MORE for a BIGGER claim.  Keep that one in your back pocket for when a ktor accuses you of denying a claim because you’re trying to save money for the company)

  • Any add ons - like if the roof is steep or requires special equipment to access, or there is interior damage

  • etc.

So for every claim that an adjuster turns in, he or she also turns in an invoice for that claim - the amount of which is based on the fee schedule that the IA firm and the carrier agreed on previously.

The adjuster and the IA firm split that fee bill.  So the adjuster makes a part of that invoice that the IA firm sends to the carrier.

Now, how that’s split up depends on a few factors.  

  1. The normal split across the industry

  2. Whether there is a huge event that could demand more adjusters than are available - like hurricane Irma

  3. Whether the IA firm is open to negotiation with experienced, veteran adjusters - hint:  not all are.

The typical split these days is 60/40.  60 goes to the adjuster and 40 goes to the IA firm.

When I started, I made 65% of the fee bill, but then that number dropped after a few years to 60%

Under special circumstances, I’ve earned 75% of the fee bill - specifically, after Katrina hit, I was offered a special assignment:  Another carrier had a big hail late season storm in a big Minneapolis suburb.  They made it worth my while and I took it.

Now, what makes a good fee schedule?  I’ve seen so many different fee bills - some high, some low.

I think it’s much more important to take some other factors into consideration:

  • How busy can that IA firm keep you

  • How complex is the carrier’s claims process

So if I had to choose between company A that had a complex claims process, required me to write checks, and had several layers of bureaucracy that I had to deal with - but had a fee schedule 10% higher than company B..

..who has a super streamlined process, Xactimate was the only software I had to deal with, and they have a small - focused team who runs everything and everybody is easily accessible by phone?

Likely going to pick company B.