PrevPrev Go to previous topic
NextNext Go to next topic
Last Post 08/16/2010 12:26 AM by  CatAdjusterX
Arriving at a disaster zone
 20 Replies
  • : false
Sort:
You are not authorized to post a reply.
Author Messages
ryoungblood
Guest
Guest
Posts:6


--
05/12/2010 12:03 PM
    OK, I am new to adjusting. I know that to be succesful at this I will have to work hard, be thorough, and be as prepared as possible before "the call".
    I know that the way most people get into adjusting is through a major hurricane, and that the ones who succeed do it because of preparation, accuracy, and hard work. One thing that I can see that would throw a person off is misunderstanding what to expect when you get there. Once you arrive to the orientation, what do you need to know about setting up your base? What works best for a place to sleep? What do you need to bring for food/preparation?
    Any help with disaster logistics from those of you with experience who are willing to share it would be great! 
    Tags: Popular
    0
    Ray Hall
    Posts:2443


    --
    05/12/2010 12:54 PM
    Go back in the old post, these questions have been answered many times.
    0
    swink_d
    Member
    Member
    Posts:96


    --
    06/25/2010 3:16 AM
    Mr. Youngblood

    That is a very good question for a new person to ask. If you cant find the answers you are looking for, come back and ask again.

    0
    JimGary
    Veteran Member
    Veteran Member
    Posts:470


    --
    06/26/2010 10:40 PM
     COMPUTER
     PRINTER
    CELL PHONE
    MOTEL 6
    RAMEN/TV DINER
    I know the voices aren't real, but sometimes they're right!
    0
    RMartin
    Guest
    Guest
    Posts:4


    --
    08/10/2010 7:52 PM
    To make money in this biz (the point), you must maximize production and minimize expenses as far as you can possibly manage.

    Initial concerns upon arriving in a disaster zone are a widespread lack of power, water, and supplies. For the first two weeks or more, you are going to have to HQ yourself 50 miles or more away from the affected area and drive in. Since you won't be the only one in the area, fuel acquisition is going to be a serious problem; many times the few stations operating have lines that can tie you up 8 hours or more, and cost a fortune besides. I highly recommend you invest in a good full-size pickup truck. Besides being able to carry a two-story ladder, you can install a 100 or 150 gallon fuel tank from a big truck in the bed (they can be found reasonably priced at any truck recycler). This will allow you to stock up on better priced fuel less often, saving precious time and money (wasted time and money are the biggest income killers).

    For lodging, you'll have to search, but motel rooms can be found. They'll be ridiculously priced, but that's because of demand. You'll have to weigh the price of the room against the travel costs to move further away for better prices. You're going to spend several hours on the phone searching, have a credit card ready to reserve. Some adjusters buy a travel trailer or motor home for initial deployment. There are pros and cons to this, the chief advantage is that with a a little preparation, generato,r and full water tanks, you are self-contained and ready to work from day 1. It gives you space to carry more supplies cutting down on time wasted to resupply. Cons include an inability to find a place to park it, most jurisdictions don't allow random rv parking and rv parks are going to be in sad a shape as the surrounding area. Additionally, your fuel requirements are going to skyrocket, a generator uses about 25 gallons of fuel a day besides what your vehicle uses. An rv would make sense to get you through until the infrastructure is restored enough to allow closer motel lodging, but all in all, it really doesn't justify the expense. After the infrastructure restoration is underway, you will have met other adjusters and networked enough connections to enable you to room with one or more other adjusters in an apartment, condo, or house. This will cut your costs greatly, and provide built-in claim handling assistance from the adjusters you room with. Many adjusters do this, and it's highly recommended to endeavor to arrange this setup as soon as you can manage after your arrival, especially for a larger storm or an extended engagement such as cleanup.

    Walmart's gonna be closed. Everywhere nearby. If you find one open, it's going to have VERY empty shelves at all times. You're going to have to fill the available space in the bed of the truck with water, food, and other needful things (coffee and condiments, dishes, microwave, mini-fridge, toilet paper, etc.) It's handy to stock up on the 3-pack cases of gallon water Walmart has far in advance, they keep fine, no need to wait until availability suffers, keep stacks of it at home until needed. As for food, you won't have time to cook elaborate 7-course meals, it's all about stuff it in and get back to work. Everyone's tastes are different, but the key is portable and fast, stock up. You need at least enough for two weeks, more if you can make the room.

    Most IA firms frown on this, carriers even moreso, but you're going to need support. There are just too many tedious time (money) consuming chores that need to be done, you can't do them all. I generally hire a relative to make my initial contacts on new claims. She schedules my inspections and handles alot of communication issues, freeing me up to concentrate on setting up, then later, getting claims closed. Some adjusters, notably husband/wife teams, split the process; he'll inspect and photograph, she'll stay at the room and enter estimates. If you can find a good trooper to do this data entry, it's money well spent. You'll drive yourself insane doing contents; in spite of instructing the insureds to give you the info you need, many don't or can't, and trying to find out what personal possessions are worth is time (money) consuming, delegate that.

    As a new adjuster, you're going to be slow. Don't bite off more than you can chew. Rule of thumb is not to inspect more claims in a day than you can close. Inspect a claim, close a claim. Inspecting a pile first then trying to write up estimates two weeks later or more increases the difficulty, the losses aren't fresh in your mind, and the policyholders get more upset about time from inspection to close than time from storm to inspection. Start with one or two a day until your speed picks up, then increase as you can handle it. Don't expect to roll in piles of cash your first storm, there IS a learning curve that's going to cost you money.

    Other tips:
    Don't turn down claims. Take all the claims you can get that you feel you can handle. Towards the end of the engagement, you're going to be looking for claims along with 50 other adjusters, take them when they're offered. Keep in mind the time limit mandated by state law to provide a proof of loss, and take everything you can.
    Don't take time off. Going home for holidays, weekends, etc., will communicate to your claims manager that you're not committed, when the engagement's winding down you WON'T be considered for cleanup (more money, slower pace, NICE daily rate). Make hay while the sun shines, go there and stay there until it's over. Believe me, you'll get PLENTY of time off afterwards, many times more than you want.
    COMMUNICATE, COMMUNICATE, COMMUNICATE!!!! And when you're done with that, communicate some more. Policyholders don't like to be kept guessing, they WILL make phone calls to find you, usually through their agent, which will go through the channels to you, alerting everyone that has control over your income that you're pissing off the policyholders and not communicating. Return ALL phone calls as soon as possible.
    While we're on the subject, and I'm probably going to get flamed to the sky for this, block your caller ID, and DON'T give your cellphone number to policyholders. Set up a voicemail system independent of your cellphone, RingCentral is a good internet-based service for this. If you don't, naturally your phone is going to ring incessantly. While you're working, while you're sleeping, while you're in the shower, all the time, that phone is going to ring. I'm proactive in my communication, but every engagement I do I get those two or three that just MUST call constantly. Save your sanity. Also, I like to give my undivided attention to the policyholder standing in front of me, and it's not comforting to them to see your attention is divided between them and your ringing phone. Get the voicemail, use it, and return the calls no less than three times a day.
    Get general liability insurance, $100k at a minimum but $1 million if you can manage it. After the engagement is over, the policyholders who felt shortchanged ARE going to court, and if you were the adjuster who worked the claim, you're going too. As an adjuster, you represent the insurance company, you are responsible for carrying out the agreement spelled out in the policy. We all learn to be very careful about what we say and how we say it because anything we promise as the insurance company's representative can hold the insurance company's feet to the fire to carry out. If you promise to pay for something, then find out later the policy doesn't allow it, YOU hold liability to pay the dollar amount if the policyholder goes to court for it. General liability insurance will insulate you from a goof on your part costing you everything you own. GET IT!

    Take your empathy with you. These peoples' lives are in total disarray, their comfortable routines are gone, some are displaced, a few lost everything. ALL of them feel like a rowboat adrift in rough seas. YOU are their tenuous line back to the safety and security of their lives. They're going to be impatient, they're going to be frustrated, and it's impossible to please everyone. Equally as important as completing their claim for them and letting them get their lives back on track, is an understanding of their frustration and needs. Keep your cool, and be as forthcoming and professional as possible. Be their lighthouse in the storm.
    0
    Ray Hall
    Posts:2443


    --
    08/11/2010 1:05 AM
    Great post Mr. Martin, I disagree on the General Liability policy. An occurance or an accident with negligence allegation triggers CGL coverage. Not being sued  because you worked a storm claim. I will not get into E & O I have been reading these policys for years and about all I have learned is the policy always goes to a coverage attorney to see if the cost of defense and indemnity is covered. Not like tort liability at all.
    0
    brighton
    Member
    Member
    Posts:139


    --
    08/11/2010 6:38 AM
    I agree with everything Mr. Martin said in his post. Excellent job.

    If I may add one last thing. Make sure you have copies of the policies you will be dealing with. You would be amazed at the number of license holders out there who once they passed the licensing exam feel that they never need to look at a policy again. Mr. Martin said that time is money. Extremely true. How much can you afford to lose because your files are being rejected as you are either including items that are not covered by the policy or not including items that are covered?
    Rocke Baker
    0
    stormcrow
    Veteran Member
    Veteran Member
    Posts:437


    --
    08/11/2010 7:17 AM
    Never forget on a large disaster we are on the bottom of the pile for rooms. Fema gets them first, even if they sit empty (Katrina), news media, people who have lost their homes, various governments officals, red cross and other aide grouprs, national contractors (power etc), anyone else who wanders in, and then we get what is left. For me the worst room ever was 1 night in Hampton Roads, I was tempted to burn my clothes in the morning, and at Katrina I had a choice between a 4 hour 1 way drive or sleeping with the cockroaches and thier friends with no phones. I made the drive work for me. I have paid more then the posted rate for a room, even though the hotel owner was being paid to hold it for a power company. You need to think outside the box, you will find something that works.
    I want to die peacefully in my sleep like my grandfather, not screaming in terror like his passengers.
    0
    ddreisbach
    Member
    Member
    Posts:172


    --
    08/12/2010 11:11 AM
    Posted By RMartin on 10 Aug 2010 07:52 PM
    While we're on the subject, and I'm probably going to get flamed to the sky for this, block your caller ID, and DON'T give your cellphone number to policyholders. Set up a voicemail system independent of your cellphone, RingCentral is a good internet-based service for this. If you don't, naturally your phone is going to ring incessantly. While you're working, while you're sleeping, while you're in the shower, all the time, that phone is going to ring. I'm proactive in my communication, but every engagement I do I get those two or three that just MUST call constantly. Save your sanity. Also, I like to give my undivided attention to the policyholder standing in front of me, and it's not comforting to them to see your attention is divided between them and your ringing phone. Get the voicemail, use it, and return the calls no less than three times a day. 
    Great post!  But I want to offer a different opinion on communication:  As part of my first contact call to the insured I give them my cellphone number and tell them to call anytime if they have a question or concern.  I tell them that if I'm awake and not working with another insured, I'll answer the phone.
     
    I have found it so much easier to answer the phone and deal with what is usually a simple question than it is to access voicemail and play phone tag.  If I'm speaking with another insured, either in person or on the phone, I don't answer.  To answer would give the clear message that the phone call is more important than the person I'm currently talking to. 
     
    If you have to call someone back tell them exactly when you'll call.  Don't say, "I'll call you back this afternoon" or "in a few minutes".  Instead, tell them something like, "I'm going to be tied up here for another hour. I can get back to you at 11:00am if that's OK.  What's the best number?" 
     
    The two or three that call constantly earn a spot on my contact list.  When I see who is calling I can choose whether or not to answer and thereby limit the amount of my time they waste.  These people will almost always end up talking to your supervisor (they have to talk to somebody) because you can't give them what they want, so make sure you're right!  Your supervisor will know the problem is them and not you.  They talk to these folks all day long!
     
    Get a cellphone headset and use it in the car, on roofs, etc.  If you need to take notes or dial a call, pull off the road and stop.  The few minutes it takes may save your life.
     
    David

    0
    Goldust
    Advanced Member
    Advanced Member
    Posts:306


    --
    08/12/2010 11:14 AM
     
       I have a very good example of getting whatever is left over in a room.
    A fellow adjuster and I along with our spouses showed up for duty on Hurricane Opal at Pensacola. We finally found a couple rooms in town away from the ocean .
      The owner neglected to tell us that the rooms were flooded during the storm. it was not evident until a couple days later , everything in the rooms were turning black with mold. We all were getting sick w/ sinus infections. Finally we found some 6-8 story condos in Destin that were clean Beautiful and very reasonable. They lasted us for 5 months of storm duty until it was time to go home.
       I would like to add that we weree not allowed on the beach to inspect our claims for 9 days. It took them that long to clear the streets well enough of sand
    to get around. Adjusters were continuously getting stuck w/ 2wd vehicles. We were very fortunate in that we had a 4wd. Explorer on that event. Some adjusters tried to hire our vehicle so they could get to their claims.
    JERRY TAYLOR
    0
    Ray Hall
    Posts:2443


    --
    08/12/2010 11:58 AM
    I agree with David. I have always found in regular claims or storm claims, voice mail is great... BUT just call them back as soon as you can get away from the task, you were doing. I kinda look at  phone calls to me have a value of about $25.00- $50.00 each if I am on T & E and also about the same if you are on a fee.On storms most people will call the agent if; "they can,t reach their adjuster" I always to dont have early appointments on Monday morning....Reason I usually get 15 -20 of mine Monday Morning.... "what is the status of my claim" calls. If you want to be the best adjuster you can be.... It,s the adjuster who never has one complaint about he/she returns phone calls.  You can be real good in 100% of the other skills and half good in this area and your score will be less than average by the vendor and the carrier also scores you by your SS#, don,t brown nose in and out a clean file and great photos.
     
    Just don,t think for one second the insurance carriers do not know who you are, after they look at 10 files, humm before they decide your worth to them... look at 10 more and then put you in (their bracket) this could be one examiner in a whole office of 10. I have worked for the biggies who ask the vendor to send me with a bunch more, get to the site and see one examiner and cringe ( this would be the one examiner, who has the reputation of chasing off one old gray hair on each storm)
     
    I go to plan B and only take my files in when this examiner is at lunch, walk up to one of the other examiner desk, leave my files and they are all approved and gone, before you know who gets back from lunch. 
     
     
     
    0
    CatAdjusterX
    Senior Member
    Senior Member
    Posts:964


    --
    08/12/2010 7:07 PM
    Whilst it may not be the most productive way to do things
     
    When I arrived in New Orleans area after Katrina/Rita, well what was left of New Orleans the first week of October2005, 2 weeks after Rita, there was not a hotel motel to be had all the way back to Baton Rouge
     
    The old hands that had mentored me on Jeanne had decided It was my time to be do claims all by myself, but still kept me on a short leash
     
    The guys coming in from Baton Rouge were averaging 3 1/2 hrs on the way in
     
    So we slept in our cars for the first month or so, went to a truck stop  in Slidell every few days to shower, do some laundry and thanks to a temp hot spot, work on our files
     
    Fortunately ,after a month or so we were able to rent a snappy little house in Metairie and back to good productivity, the point to this story is those first few hours after arrival , I was thinking about making the 3 1/2 to 4 hr drive was going to suck, that was until the old timers had a good laugh at my expense and said welcome to the world of the CAT adjuster, it isn't always glamorous and if there aren't any hotels, baby wipes can make for a decent shower in a pinch.
     
     
     
    Robby Robinson 
    "A good leader leads..... ..... but a great leader is followed !!" CatAdjusterX@gmail.com
    0
    WILLIS
    Member
    Member
    Posts:97


    --
    08/12/2010 8:10 PM
    Finding a place to live is primary. Driving 3 hrs+ to claims will wear you out quick.  I have several temp services and local realtors are a big help.  I lived in a Mobile couples home for the first 45 days of Katrina.  There was nothing standing to live in in Mississippi; Mobile was jammed.  I was lucky eventhough they did not have power or internet,  the wife worked a government job.  I would load my reports on a flash storage disc. The wife took it to her work then sent all the info off to the vendor or carriers.  If a Katrina hits a big city no power no internet. How many programs run without internet. Carriers dont care they expect you to solve the problem. Bitching and Moaning are not your best options.  I was fortunate to have chuch claims for Katrina. I slept many nights on the fellowship hall floors in Slidell, Hammond, Picayune etc.  That was better than having to drive all the way back to Mobile every day. 
     
    I still work alone neanderthal style. I prefer to make my own first contacts then arrange my schedule based on severity and access. I utilize a printed form that I email when available or stamp mail when not advsing the insured what they can be doing until we can meet. Keeping them busy keeps them away from agents and carriers. These days carriers call those insureds to make sure they have been contacted  never hurts when an insured can tell a carrier my adjuster has called and we are working toward a positive result.
     
    If damages are like Katrina trying to do claims fast is a big mistake. No adjuster can see them all in a few days. No adjuster can inspect and write up 20 claims a day although I have heard many say they could; most were cut loose early when someone had to fix their mess.   Convince the insured you have their best interest at heart, make an appointment and be there on time.  Following the first contact  I send the vendor / carrier a status confirming the date of the first meeting and alerting them to any serious damages so they can adjust reserves. When I meet an insured he is the only claim I have. If they have serious damage I get an advance affidavit. Giving an insured money at the front end never hurts. 
     
     I do not give my cell number to any insured. Big mistake, they will wear you out. I use an 800# service with a real person, American, answering 24/7. I check the voice mail frequently.  I do not send carriers reports via email;  they do not replace written reports. My way might be slower but I have very few customer complaints. 
     
    I worked Charley-Frances-Jeanne for a Florida vendor completely off the voicemail. The vendor sent every insured a letter with my voicemail number.  Based on their response you could figure out if they needed to seen first or later.  I never called all the insureds  just had too many  just worked the voicemail and kept it free of backed up calls;  carriers and vendors check those logs as well.
     
    Well it is slow this year.  When wearther services start saying it will be a bumper crop year  I know it will be a flop.  It just takes one good hit in one major city to provide enough work to see you through several years  of  no work  if you know how to manage your money.  I only start to fret when October rolls in and nothing has developed.  Stay positive.
    0
    ChuckDeaton
    Life Member
    Senior Member
    Senior Member
    Posts:1110


    --
    08/14/2010 12:07 AM
    When Katrina hit we rolled in in the motor home, pulling the diesel, set up the cell phone tower and went to work. That was in September of 2005, yesterday I was assigned 10 more Katrina claims and I have to be in Federal Court in NOLA next week.
    "Prattling on and on about being an ass with experience doesn't make someone experienced. It just makes you an ass." Rod Buvens, Pilot grunt
    0
    RMartin
    Guest
    Guest
    Posts:4


    --
    08/14/2010 6:30 AM
    One other essential must-have: get a tire repair kit and small air compressor. Nails and trash all over the place are going to give you flat after flat for the initial couple weeks. I promise you, you won't find a tire shop open. Harbor Freight Tools and Walmart carry plug kits, they're not expensive, and they're easy to use.
    0
    ddreisbach
    Member
    Member
    Posts:172


    --
    08/14/2010 9:39 AM
    I was rushing to the orientation meeting in Orlando after Charley in 2004 and rolled into town with a half tank of gas, thinking Orlando would be OK.  It wasn't.  Had to backtrack 50 miles and wait in line to fill my tank.  Found a room in Orlando with soggy wet carpeting and was glad to get it.  Discount Tire was open to fix my flat, but I now carry (as RMartin suggests) a plug kit, compressor, and a can of inflator/sealer.
     
    When Katrina hit I was stuck in Mobile for three weeks, staying with friends.  Another adjuster and I rented a motorhome from a friend of a friend and parked it in another friend's backyard on the west bank.  He even put in a 30 amp RV outlet for us. It was crowded but it worked.  Every two weeks on Sunday morning we'd pack up the MH and roll it out to the nearest sewer (not a storm drain) and dump the holding tanks.  We had the permission of the local sewer chief to do this.
     
    After 3 months we had to give the MH back, so we found a damaged, unfurnished duplex and moved in with inflatable beds and desks that we picked up from trash piles along the road.  You improvise and make do.  Met a guy in Chalmette that would drive in from Pensacola (230 miles?) and scope for two days, sleeping in his truck, then drive back and write them up. 
    0
    Ray Hall
    Posts:2443


    --
    08/14/2010 10:24 AM
    State Farm staff adjusters would be flown from Houston to Baton Rouge and back for weeks, no place to live.
    0
    Ray Hall
    Posts:2443


    --
    08/14/2010 10:50 AM
    In some of the smaller storms, I have know adjusters who rented a bedroom and shared a bath in a private residence.

    This is a very old adjusters joke or urban ledgend. This was the days of large hail in the TX pan handle. It seems 4 younger staff adjusters who worked for their respective carriers found the only place in Guymon to get a room was the old 3 story hotel over the Western Auto Store. The only place to get meals was at one resturant. Some time all 4 would just happen to meet at the same time and swap a few stories. After about 3 weeks they saw a new auto show up at lunch time and an older guy get out of the company car, who appeared to be an adjuster. One of the adjusters met him and ask if he was an adjuster, and the answer was yes and he had been with Western Adjustment now named GAB for 36 years . they invited him to pull up a chair and eat with them.

    The question was ask of the older adjuster were most of his losses were and he said around the town of Guymon, the next question was , where are you staying(living) the answer was I have a motel room down in Perryton, Tx. One of the racehorses of the 4 adjusters chirped up and said. Goodness thats a waste of time and gas, they still have some rooms over at the hotel in Guyman. the older adjuster terse replay was "I know, but I can,t climb 3 flights of stairs"
    0
    ChuckDeaton
    Life Member
    Senior Member
    Senior Member
    Posts:1110


    --
    08/14/2010 5:37 PM
    Anytime you are not working after a large Katrina style event you are not making money. Need I say more.
    "Prattling on and on about being an ass with experience doesn't make someone experienced. It just makes you an ass." Rod Buvens, Pilot grunt
    0
    Atfulldraw
    Member
    Member
    Posts:88


    --
    08/15/2010 4:40 AM
    Just reminds me how much i enjoy sleeping in my own bed..... :)

    I'm sleeping in it right now, even though I'm 600 miles from home.

    In my opinion a travel trailer/fifth wheel/motorhome is the only way to go if you want to make a career out of this work.
    It will pay for itself quickly.
    Rod
    0
    CatAdjusterX
    Senior Member
    Senior Member
    Posts:964


    --
    08/16/2010 12:26 AM
    Whilst this may only be my opine
     
    To the new folks who are wanting to get in the CAT Industry, BE PREPARED
     
    If it's a big enough storm , even having money available don't mean anything if the impact area is severe, there isn't anywhere to buy anything, whattya gonna do , no cell reception cause everything is down and no internet connection so Xactimate is impossible, yet the carrier doesn't care what your problems are, it still has to get done.
     
    I know the brand new folks coming in may even have Xactimate down pretty good, but how many know how to measure a roof with a pad a paper a pen and a tape and calculator ?
     
    We worked three days scoping claims , then on the fourth day, went to a truck stop got an internet connection, completed those files and went back for more.
     
    I just want our new folks to remember technology is nice but if we get hit bad by anything, hurricane , terrorist attack , whatever it may be , as a professional , we have to get it done no matter what, with or without technology
     
    So with that in mind , if you don't already know , learn how to measure a roof by hand
     
    IT IS ALWAYS BETTER TO HAVE SOMETHING AND NOT NEED IT THEN TO NEED IT AND NOT HAVE IT, knowledge equipment , supplies, etc....
    "A good leader leads..... ..... but a great leader is followed !!" CatAdjusterX@gmail.com
    0
    You are not authorized to post a reply.


    These Forums are dedicated to discussion of Claims Adjusting.

    For the benefit of the community and to protect the integrity of the ecosystem, please observe the following posting guidelines: 
    • No Advertising. 
    • No vendor trolling / poaching. If someone posts about a vendor issue, allow the vendor or others to respond. Any post that looks like trolling / poaching will be removed.
    • No Flaming or Trolling.
    • No Profanity, Racism, or Prejudice.
    • Terms of Use Apply

      Site Moderators have the final word on approving / removing a thread or post or comment.