#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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Getting Started as an IA with Eberl Claims Service

In this video, I visited Eberl’s Dallas Training Center and met the team, including Taylor Jones, VP of Shared Services.

I interviewed Taylor and she explained what Eberl is looking for when they add adjusters to their roster, what training opportunities Eberl has for new adjusters, and I even learned how to say EBERL.

For more information about Eberl Claims Service and getting on their roster, click the big yellow button..

Watch the full video!


Looking to get started as an Independent Adjuster? Have no clue where to start? Sign up to watch the free training, “Getting Started as an Independent Adjuster.”

 
 

Get Ready for NACA 2020!

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It’s never too early to start thinking about convention season!

Conferences and conventions are an essential part of networking and career-building for independent adjusters.

Whether you’re just getting started - or have been in the game for a long time - attending events where you can talk to people face-to-face is not only a great way to build and maintain your network, but it’s also really fun!

What other way is there to meet and hang out with people who are in the same industry as you? You can share war stories, talk about next-steps, and learn about new opportunities from other IA’s as well as all of the recruiters and hiring managers that attend these events.


Need a financial tracker for your claims business? Check out Mark’s Storm Tracker:

 
 

There are several large conferences just for our industry, but none is more specific to catastrophe work than the National Association of Catastrophe Adjusters (NACA) annual convention, job fair, and expo.

At the NACA convention you can:

  • get training including things like Xactimate and water mitigation

  • earn continuing education credits (CE) so that you can keep your licenses current

  • interview with dozens and dozens of IA firms so that they can meet you and see if you’re a good fit for them AND so that you can assess them and see if you’ll fit into their company culture and way of doing things

  • attend fun, organized events in the evenings to let your hair down and get to know your fellow attendees a bit better

  • win amazing door prizes

  • and most of all, be surrounded by hundreds of people who are deeply invested in this crazy, mostly unknown career we call Cat Claims


In this exclusive, extended video, I talk with folks from several IA firms, a gear maker, and a drone developer about new tools for ia’s, getting into the industry, and making a big impact on your first storm deployments.

Want to improve cycle time, customer service metrics, and get more claims closed every week on cat? Check out Schedule It..

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!

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:

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!

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/

2019 Preview!

The first year of AdjusterTV is in the books!

We’ve got so much planned for you in 2019! So much more of what you love to see on AdjusterTV.. Plus a couple of really big surprises!

Thank you so much for watching AdjusterTV. As always, I encourage you to reach out to me through social media or through email.

You can be notified instantly when a new video uploads by CLICKING HERE!

Have a great storm!

Ten of My Favorite Books

I love reading and am always reading something..

I read fiction on my Kindle, business books on Audible, and I buy cookbooks so I can have them open in the kitchen without worrying about splashing my phone or computer with animal guts.

Anyway, the following list of books is just a small sample of the business/personal development books I’ve read over the last few years and are some of my favorite.

If you love book lists like this, let me know in the comments and I’ll make more videos like this!

7 Habits of Highly Effective People Stephen Covey https://amzn.to/2DQPW84

Financial Peace Revisited Dave Ramsey https://amzn.to/2raLwkK

Profit First Mike Michalowicz https://amzn.to/2KIMhdU

Meaning of Marriage Timothy Keller https://amzn.to/2Rou203

Benjamin Franklin Walter Isaacson https://amzn.to/2KHrs2w

Organize Tomorrow Today Selk, Bartow, Rudy https://amzn.to/2rdUMEY

The Obstacle Is the Way Ryan Holiday https://amzn.to/2P9Xmp8

The One Thing Gary Keller and Jay Papasan https://amzn.to/2P7Iyal

Atomic Habits James Clear https://amzn.to/2TWubtb

Independent Adjuster's Playbook Chris Stanley https://amzn.to/2SiVegM

Disclosure: these are affiliate links which earn me very small commissions if you use them - at no cost to you. If you’re not into that, don’t worry! My feelings aren’t hurt. But no matter where or how you buy them, let me know if you’ve read any of these in the comments!

Make Money on Your First Hurricane - Extended Training Video

I thought it would be helpful for you to have as much info as I can give you to help you do well on your first hurricane deployment.

I was planning on doing this live, but because I jump into xm8 and xactanalysis I decided to record it and release it here instead.

It’s a long one, but I did my best to not ramble. There’s a lot of info here!

Just. Keep. Going.

My first cat deployment was really hard. In fact, I almost didn’t finish it was so hard.

But after getting a good pep talk from my manager and finally just putting my head down and pushing through all the work, I made it. I started getting assigned new claims and new deployments and my career began.

The thing to remember is that even though the amount of work seems huge, and the learning curve steep.. taking it one small step at a time and being patient will allow you to learn as you go.

Just like climbing to a high mountain pass in the pouring rain, you’ll get there if you just put one foot in front of the other and don’t stop.

Just keep going.

What do you do if there are no more storms in 2018?

It's not a nice thought:  2018 comes and goes and you, as a new adjuster, haven't been deployed.  You've spent money and traveled to all the courses and certifications.  But nothing happens.  You don't earn anything.

Is this scenario possible?  Very much so.  

But also, literally anything can happen (and often does).  

In this episode of AdjusterTV, I talk about what a new adjuster can do with the rest of this year as the season starts to wind down.  

Worst case:  use the winter to get fully ready and hit the ground running when spring storms kick up again.

Hang in there!

Water Claims 101

 

In this video, I talk in depth about the three biggest things I do to make quick work of large water losses.  

Water claims can be great money and you can do them pretty fast if you have a detailed plan for getting through them.

We also go over how being thorough when putting together your claim file can have a really beneficial effect on your career.

Water claims can be daunting, but they're not that bad if you muster up a little courage and follow the steps I outline in the video.  

This video is a bit longer so let me know if you like a longer format in the comments.

Enjoy!

Should You accept work as a Virtual Assist?

 

If you've spent any time on social media, you have likely seen some heated discussion about Virtual Assist.  Or it may not have even been discussions.  It may have been that somebody posted a question about it and then 150 comments appeared almost instantly that completely bash the idea and calling anybody who wants to do it a bunch of names that would make even a sailor blush.

What is a Virtual Assist (VA)?

In a nutshell:  A VA is a person who performs only the inspection in the claims process.  

They'll use an app on their smartphone and get on a live video call with a licensed desk adjuster (DA).  The desk adjuster will direct the VA on how to scope the house and what photos to take.  

That's it.  

There's nothing else to it.

A VA gets a notification on their phone that there's an inspection available and they can either accept or decline it.  All the rest of the work - contacting the insured, writing the estimate, labeling photos, making a policy decision, etc. - is handled by the trained and licensed DA.

There are pros and cons, of course, but in this case the pros heavily outweigh the cons.

In my opinion, two big pros are that for the companies who also hire licensed field adjusters being a VA can count as experience and in some cases is a first step towards getting on the IA roster.  The second one is that a VA will be able to learn how to scope a lot of houses under the direction of an experienced adjuster - there's no pressure to do anything else so the VA can focus on this one very critical piece of the claims handling process.  When the opportunity comes up to handle a full claim file, the person who has experience as a VA will easily be able to hit the ground running.

Pros:

  • no license required

  • no certifications required

  • no phone calls

  • no negotiation

  • no estimate writing

  • counts as experience with some companies

  • allows a newbie to learn how to scope without too much pressure

Cons:

  • only wind/hail right now

  • volume is relatively low, but quickly increasing

  • pays less than what a licensed field adjuster would make for the same claim

What does it pay?

As of right now, I only know what Madsky and Pilot pay for their programs.

August 2018: 

  • Madsky is paying a flat fee of $150 per inspection

  • Pilot is paying between $72.50 and $202.50 per inspection

I asked Pilot how they've structured their pay and they said this:

"Inspectors currently receive anywhere from $72.50-$202.50 per assignment, depending on what the assignment entails and their experience level. For example, the most common inspection type currently pays $110 at the low end and $132 on the high end. Your manager can explain how your pay is structured and how it is determined. You will know what your pay rate is for each type of inspection prior to you accepting or rejecting an assignment.”

Should you accept VA work?  As somebody who's done VA work, I can tell you that it's an easy way to make $150 in about 35 minutes without all the hassle of a full blown claim.  But as an experienced adjuster I will only accept VA work in the absence of regular cat work.  

For new people, I think it's an excellent way to get started in property claims.  

Introducing: AP-Adjusting.com

Adam no longer provides live training.

However, he does have a popular and growing podcast where he interviews major industry players so that you can make informed decisions about how to run your career as an Independent Adjuster.

His website is also an excellent one-stop-shop for adjuster resources.

Check it out here: ap-adjusting.com

For 20% off of The Elite Adjuster Method ebook and audio version, use AP20 at checkout!  

AdjusterTV and AP-Adjusting are not affiliated but I endorse his course as an excellent way for new adjusters to get some experience as well as shortcut the process of getting on rosters.

We're both always looking for better ways to serve new adjusters so I encourage you to share your thoughts and questions in the comments below.