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Last Post 02/25/2015 4:46 PM by  Marcus
Thinking about a career change into claims
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rboss32
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04/06/2014 5:51 PM

    Hi Everyone,

    I am a 26 year old that has a strong background in construction. I have years of experience in residential remodeling and repairs. I graduated from college in 2009 with a degree in Technology Education (Bachelor of Science) k-12 looking to be a Technology teacher. When I graduated college I choose not to actually become a teacher and opened a construction company due to the lack of decent paying jobs. I have ran the company since 2009, this will be my 5th year. I've grown tired of the fight to stay busy with decent project with new companies opening daily. I would say on a good year I have to struggle to make a gross paycheck of 40k. To do this I usually end up working 6 days or more a week and the business consumes 60+ hours of my week. It's daunting and I feel that it kind of is not paying off. I don't want to ride it too long to just find myself in the same position, with a dampened future in life. It's brought me to thinking about a career change before it's too late.

    I have a college friend that right out of college started with Liberty Mutual as a customer service rep, and has worked his way up the ladder quite well in 5 years. He is now in bodily injury or something down those lines. He has talked to me over the past few years telling me to apply for a job with LM. He raves about how the job is easy if you are a hard worker (which he is).

    He suggested to me to check out jobs to become a field property loss specialist. I've checked into it a few times and am now considering it. They pay and benefits are exceptional compared to what I have now.  I figured this would be a great place to ask a few questions from professionals in the industry.

    Does anyone here have real life work experience with Liberty Mutual? If so, are they a good company to start a long lasting career with? Is there a high turn over rate?

    I don't have experience with Xactimate, which seems to be the software of choice in the adjuster industry. I am considering paying for training to be a qualified applicant before I even apply to the position. If I was to do this could anyone suggest a good legitimate company to acquire training from? If so, what level of training should I have to start off on my feet with a  decent chance to succeed in property claims?

    Is there another position I should be applying for and then move up to the grade of field property loss specialist?

    I have great customer service skills (I've ran a business for 5 years). I have decent estimation skills since I have ran a profitable business this long. I have real life construction experience. I have no issue scaling roofs, since roof replacements is the bread and butter of my business currently. I meet most all of their experience requirements except working knowledge of Xactimate. I have experience back from college with AutoCAD. I figure the software must use somewhat the same basics of operation.

    Anyways, I am looking for some pro's/con's of the adjuster life along with any advice you may have to lead me to a successful career. I understand it is a heavy work load at times, and stressful but I believe the career I currently have to be heavy on the work load and extremely stressful most of the time. I thought about maybe the best way to get in with a company such as Liberty is to start as a Cat adjuster since the requirements are a bit less, but the travel might get to me over time since I feel there may be little work/life balance going down that route.

    I don't have an interest in being self employed or anything like that, it's time for me to go work for "the man".

    I appreciate any information and all the responses!

    -Nick

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    CatAdjusterX
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    04/08/2014 3:04 AM

    I am NOT going to beat around the bush,

    You claim to have great customer service skills running a business for 5 years. Well according to your own words, you have ran that business into the ground, so obviously not great skills, eh?

    Great customer service skills entail putting people at ease. Yet you have already alienated the vast majority of this site's member base.

    Your words:

    "I thought about maybe the best way to get in with a company such as Liberty is to start as a Cat adjuster since the requirements are a bit less."

    Anyway, going the route of a staff adjuster is what I push to my members who have a four year degree. The reasoning is simple, you get paid to learn.

    But again, your words below:

    I understand it is a heavy work load at times, and stressful but I believe the career I currently have to be heavy on the work load and extremely stressful most of the time.

    It is my opinion you would be jumping from the frying pan into the fire.

    Well, I don't think this is the career for you. Just my opinion. Doesn't mean you are a bad person, not at all.

    I have some experience with Liberty Mutual handling litigated and public adjuster rep'd claims. I found them to be night and day when compared to State Farm. I enjoyed my time with them. Nevertheless, that was contracting with Liberty Mutual and on the CAT side of things.

    If you decide to go for it, understand it is never going to be easy and the stress will be there. It takes a special person to be a staff adjuster.

    "A good leader leads..... ..... but a great leader is followed !!" CatAdjusterX@gmail.com
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    Jud G.
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    04/09/2014 12:13 PM
    Posted By rboss32 on 04/06/2014 5:51 PM

    ....

    I have ran the company since 2009, this will be my 5th year. I've grown tired of the fight to stay busy with decent project with new companies opening daily. I would say on a good year I have to struggle to make a gross paycheck of 40k. To do this I usually end up working 6 days or more a week and the business consumes 60+ hours of my week. It's daunting and I feel that it kind of is not paying off. I don't want to ride it too long to just find myself in the same position, with a dampened future in life. It's brought me to thinking about a career change before it's too late.

    ....

    Does anyone here have real life work experience with Liberty Mutual? If so, are they a good company to start a long lasting career with? Is there a high turn over rate?

    I don't have experience with Xactimate, which seems to be the software of choice in the adjuster industry. I am considering paying for training to be a qualified applicant before I even apply to the position. If I was to do this could anyone suggest a good legitimate company to acquire training from? If so, what level of training should I have to start off on my feet with a  decent chance to succeed in property claims?

    Is there another position I should be applying for and then move up to the grade of field property loss specialist?

    I have great customer service skills (I've ran a business for 5 years). I have decent estimation skills since I have ran a profitable business this long. I have real life construction experience. I have no issue scaling roofs, since roof replacements is the bread and butter of my business currently. I meet most all of their experience requirements except working knowledge of Xactimate. I have experience back from college with AutoCAD. I figure the software must use somewhat the same basics of operation.

    Robby: I don't see where he ran his business into the ground.  He stated that new companies are opening daily and is tired of making a gross paycheck of $40K/annum.  Later, he stated that his business is profitable.  He has a justifiable explanation for his discontent with his career direction and I think he prepared a nice post.

    Nick: Kudos to you for persevering this long and for giving this gig a decent shot.  Like your college friend, I worked in a department with Liberty Mutual handling litigated bodily injury claims.  At the time, attrition was high.  Liberty Mutual's standards are rigid, they have a distinct corporate culture, and its a tough company to work for, but can be very rewarding.  If you succeed there, I have no doubt you will succeed most anywhere.  Their training is excellent and they can get you up to speed with Xactimate and indoctrinate you into their way of doing things from an estimating standpoint.

    If you work normal daily losses in their Property department, you will encounter a variety of claim types (perils such as water, fire, settlement, vandalism, theft, etc.).  This will force you to become aware of many aspects of the insurance contract (policy) that you don't normally encounter while adjusting catastrophe losses.

    Catastrophe property losses will put you in touch with a high volume of claims, but usually just one or two perils per event (hail, tornado, ice, snow, hurricane, etc.).  This will expose you to limited aspects of the policy, but will be a good experience nonetheless.

    While handling daily losses, your investigation, analysis, and reasoning skills will be put to the test much more.  Whereas if you are adjusting catastrophe losses, you will have to manage higher levels of stress as it pertains to a large volume of claims, managing customer expectations, and time management.  Coverage analysis is still put to the test since every claim will always be a little different even though most are similar for each event.

    Good luck.

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    CatAdjusterX
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    04/13/2014 1:05 AM
    Jud G.-  Coming into the adjusting world looking for less hours and more money is a recipe for disaster
    "A good leader leads..... ..... but a great leader is followed !!" CatAdjusterX@gmail.com
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    jspek9
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    04/14/2014 3:31 PM
    My .02 cents, all major companies train there employees how they want an est written regardless of what you already know so save your money. when you send in you resume a major ins co. is going to want to see a little backround in your discipline but your related experience is going to factor into what you get paid more so than if they hire you or not. cust retention is the name of the game. really drive home your cust service experience if you want to be a staff adj.  good luck!
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    Tim_Johnson
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    04/14/2014 5:08 PM
    rboss, if you are still around shoot me an email, I might be able to hook you up, supertaz@aol.com
    Tim Johnson
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    shanemcbryde
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    04/16/2014 8:21 PM

    -Nick,

    1st thing you want to keep in mind is that there are all different types of jobs in the insurance industry. What I take it you are thinking about is Cat Adjusting, which is what most of us on this forum do. Cat Adjusting ain't no joke. Is a tough slog the first few years, and it takes a particular type of personality to hang with it. You'll want to bear in mind that as an Independent Cat Adjuster YOU are responsible for ALL your business expenses. So, you've got to be prepared to spend maybe $1,500.00 right out the box. You're going to work long, hard, grueling hours for months at a time. You're likely to be gone many, many months at a time (if you're lucky.)

    It is not an easy gig by no means. And, starting out especially you're going to have spent boo coodles of money on getting started, and you're going to be sitting home on your butt for 6 months wondering what the heck is going on. And, just as you're about to accept a job offer with a stable paycheck, bam, you're going to get deployed to Minnesota in the middle of February for a couple of weeks. The turn over rate in this industry is enormous, and there's a perfectly good reason for that. 

    I hope this helps a little.

     

     

    Daniel S McBryde
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    Roy Estes
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    04/17/2014 8:13 AM

    Nick, 

    The construction market is coming back, banks are lending again. May want to try and regroup. Just my two cents. 

    "Each of us as human beings has a responsibility to reach out to help our brothers and sisters affected by disasters. One day it may be us or our loved ones needing someone to reach out and help." RC ESTES
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    Jud G.
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    04/17/2014 10:05 PM

    Posted By CatAdjusterX on 04/13/2014 1:05 AM
    Jud G.- Coming into the adjusting world looking for less hours and more money is a recipe for disaster

    Correct Robby.  Getting into any job in any industry for those reasons is a bad idea.  No manager wants to hire a goofus seeking to work less and make more money.  Nick did not state anything that gave me the impression that he is this type of person.

    My post highlights the reasons Liberty Mutual is a difficult company, but excellent to work for.  I then concluded with a few differences between catastrophe and daily claims.  I apologize if my statement implied anything of which you stated.

    The insurance claims industry is full of people with a diverse array of backgrounds (ministers, teachers, contractors, timber framers, IT specialists, chemists, engineers, nurses, etc).  It's not a one size fits all industry and there's a place for anyone who's willing to work hard and be flexible enough to grow.

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    Jud G.
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    04/17/2014 10:05 PM
    (duplicate)
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    rboss32
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    04/20/2014 12:54 PM
    Thanks for all your responses on my initial post.

    I guess this will give you all a better idea of what I am looking for in a career change:

    1. Benefits. Currently with all the hard work I put into my business (both on business side and installation side) I get my yearly salary which isn't anything too fantastic, then at the end of the year I still have no health, retirement, pension etc.

    2. A better work/life balance. Currently I have worked 7 days a week (rarely less) though most major holidays and usually 12+ hour days. I'd say I log 60+ hours any given week easily. Then when I am home I'm usually educating myself and reading about new products, installation techniques etc.

    3. I want my hard work ethic to be rewarded, and not taken advantage of. - I would put myself as a very hard worker and extremely devoted to whatever I am doing. Lately I have begun to think about a career change since my work ethic, professionalism, and craftsmanship is just being compared to any man with a hammer. Well maybe that is true since people believe my industry is not as "skilled". I guess I'm not a brain surgeon, but it's much more difficult than bleeping along at a cash register. Lately, other companies in my area are bidding projects so low, I can't reasonably see how they can be pulling in much more than $10/hr. I'm sorry personally I believe if I'm supplying all my own tools, insurances, trucks, fuel etc... I'm worth more than $10/hr.

    4. I want room to grow from my hard work and dedication. I would prefer to move up in ranks, get promotions.

    5. I don't much care for people calling me at 930PM asking about paint colors. I'm getting sick of it. If I don't answer, it's terrible customer service. Can't a guy get some sleep, or maybe enjoy dinner with their girlfriend? If I don't answer they call back 3-4 times. It's obnoxious. I'm really fed up with it because after all these potential customers do, they then will go with another company after I've planned their whole project out for them. It's tiring.

    6. Job hazards- Obviously construction offers it's hazards. It's something I would like to remove myself from at a young age if they pay is not going to be there for a successful lifestyle. If I was to stay around all the hazards, health insurance would be key. It is un-obtainable with the rates we can charge.

    7. If I could, I would like to not have to travel as much. Today on Easter, I spent from 6am-11am on the road doing this and that. I don't get holidays off.

    -------

    Why do I want to leave construction?

    1. Bad pay for performance- We finish a job faster than someone else because we are more skilled and more equip we have been running into customers denying final payments, haggling with final amounts.

    2. Getting stiffed on projects.

    3. Not enough steady profiting projects.

    4. Insurance costs per thousand.

    5. Local government taking too long to do inspections, killing my scheduling.

    6. Area with low income... = low prices.

    7. Working 7 days a week.

    8. Working in dangerous areas/situations.

    9. Constant Sun exposure (worries me with cancer).

    10. Lack of basic luxuries on job sites such as water, electric, toilet, parking.

    I mean people can't even clean up their dog's droppings before we come for a new roof installation. Nothing more do I love than walking up a dog crap filled ladder all day.

    Honestly, people treat contractors like they are sub-human. Every contractor in their mind seems to be out to "take em for all their worth". Not all are alike, and this stereotype is driving me nuts. The internet allows people to become more educated and researched on costs, but that research is all "google said". Not from a book, manual, etc.

    I guess at the end of the day, I can't see myself doing this for the rest of my life and enjoying myself. It's time for me to get a job. Most any job pays better than I am making this year (YTD: $2400 GROSS). Last years Gross was $27,800 (Not really anything to write home about). We can't land a single job lately, and the ones we do haven't paid their bills. They don't pay, I don't get paid. I still had to take on the expense of doing the project.


    I guess what I am asking from people here.... What job tile is the correct beginning place for someone with my experience? Would it be Field claims specialist? Or Customer Service Rep?

    Also, I never said CAT adjusting was easy. I said it looked to be a easier "in" compared to some other. Probably due to high demand or high turn over.

    Thanks,

    Nick

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    AcceleratedAdjuster
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    04/21/2014 9:20 AM
    Posted By rboss32 on 04/20/2014 12:54 PM
    Thanks for all your responses on my initial post.


    -------

    Why do I want to leave construction?

    1. Bad pay for performance- We finish a job faster than someone else because we are more skilled and more equip we have been running into customers denying final payments, haggling with final amounts.

    2. Getting stiffed on projects.

    3. Not enough steady profiting projects.

    4. Insurance costs per thousand.

    5. Local government taking too long to do inspections, killing my scheduling.

    6. Area with low income... = low prices.

    7. Working 7 days a week.

    8. Working in dangerous areas/situations.

    9. Constant Sun exposure (worries me with cancer).

    10. Lack of basic luxuries on job sites such as water, electric, toilet, parking.

    I mean people can't even clean up their dog's droppings before we come for a new roof installation. Nothing more do I love than walking up a dog crap filled ladder all day.

    Honestly, people treat contractors like they are sub-human. Every contractor in their mind seems to be out to "take em for all their worth". Not all are alike, and this stereotype is driving me nuts. The internet allows people to become more educated and researched on costs, but that research is all "google said". Not from a book, manual, etc.

    I guess at the end of the day, I can't see myself doing this for the rest of my life and enjoying myself. It's time for me to get a job. Most any job pays better than I am making this year (YTD: $2400 GROSS). Last years Gross was $27,800 (Not really anything to write home about). We can't land a single job lately, and the ones we do haven't paid their bills. They don't pay, I don't get paid. I still had to take on the expense of doing the project.


    I guess what I am asking from people here.... What job tile is the correct beginning place for someone with my experience? Would it be Field claims specialist? Or Customer Service Rep?

    Also, I never said CAT adjusting was easy. I said it looked to be a easier "in" compared to some other. Probably due to high demand or high turn over.

    Thanks,

    Nick

    I will address each based on staff or IA:

    1. Staff: N/A (salary)   IA: Even if you are more skilled than the next guy, you will likely get paid the same (our firm pays more for better adjusters, but most don't, and if you are new, regardless of your contracting experience, you would not be the aforementioned "better adjuster" for quite some time, though you might be able to make there it faster than others).

    2. Staff: N/A (salary)  IA: It happens, be it your fault (poor performance, pulled files) or a shady vendor's (they are out there).

    3. Staff: N/A (salary)  IA: It will be that way until you get a decent client list and the weather cooperates

    4. Staff: N/A   IA: Depends on what vendor you work with, some carry insurance on your work and the ones that do not should. Some will charge you for it. 

    5. NA

    6. NA

    7. Staff: Only when you are really busy, and then you are salary, so you don't get paid more (unless you are deployed getting per diem).   IA: Still working 7 days a week

    8. You will work in dangerous areas as an adjuster

    9. You will work in the sun all day as an adjuster

    10. You will typically not have access to basic luxuries as an adjuster in the field (make sure you stop at a store or restaurant before you arrive and keep a case of water in your truck), though you will typically be able to park at the inspection sites you visit. 

    11. People do not always clean up dog droppings for adjusters, either. You could well end up running up and down a crap covered ladder if you don't watch your step!

    12. The way you describe people and their feelings toward contractors is probably intensified when it comes to adjusters. Some are truly grateful for our help while others seem to view us as adversaries. 

    13: Money: I am guessing you mean net instead of gross, and in either case, yeah, it looks like you need to move in a different direction. As a new staff adjuster, you could reasonably expect to net about what you made last year (salaried employees get taxes withheld, after all, and the starting salaries are not all that high). As an IA, you could make more (after you get established), but you would run into 10 of the 13 complaints that you listed in addition to the "acclimation period" in which you will make little to no money at all as you build your customer base. 

     

    Based on the (lengthy) list of complaints about what you currently do, I would really not recommend becoming an adjuster. The money as a newbie staff adjuster is not great, and it seems like you do not like a ,lot of the aspects of the job, anyway. As an IA, the money is what you make it, but again, based on your list of complaints, I think that you may have the wrong idea about IA's (cat or daily). It is more money, sometimes, (cat adjusters are typically in a cycle of feast or famine until they figure it out) but it is certainly not more money for less work, unless you think cruising up and down a dog crap covered ladder from dawn to dusk, praying that the contractor does not knock down your ladder after you say "no" or that the locals don't steal your ladder so that they can raid your vehicle unmolested (we don't just adjust the "nice" neighborhoods) so that you can stay up until 3am writing reports (and revising the ones that got kicked back from the day before) that are late the day you receive them so you can start the whole process again, sitting on a rooftop waiting for the sun to come up as "less work". 

    About 1 in 20 prospective IA's actually makes it as a successful IA. Of the other 19, about half are lucky enough to get sent on the occasional catastrophe once or twice a year, and they usually sling shingle or flip burgers in the interim. I am sure the ratio is higher in the staffer arena, as they will typically tell their employees what the company wants from them (eg: give them a path to upward mobility), while as an IA, nobody will hold your hand. With the list of complaints that you gave as your reasoning for seeking a new career path, I do not think that you would be that "1 out of 20", but you never know, I have been wrong before.  

     

    Best of luck. 


    www.acceleratedadjusting.com www.acceleratedadjustingisrael.com
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    rboss32
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    04/21/2014 6:17 PM
    AcceleratedAdjuster,

    The wage I spoke about was Gross before payroll taxes. We also use personal trucks, so the truck payment is on me, auto insurance is on me, and the cost of gasoline is on me. For the complaints I have, the pay is just not enough. If I was being compensated more, I would understand the issues. Also all the uncompensated fuel and time expenses for all the "free estimates" we have to give. We work in terrible areas too, being mainly a roofing contractor (about 50% of the gross work we do), even poor people need new roofs. The lack of health coverage is a big concern to me. From all the sketchy materials we handle daily, what am I suppose to do when I finally have a nice cancer bubble from the asphalt shingles? I never noticed there was anything terrible in them until I saw the warning on a IKO bundle wrapper.

    I also worry about the demolition work, with asbestos that is not caught on testing prior to jobs. How much does it take to have health effects from it? When you're stuck with no health insurance, it makes that a bit more worrisome as well.

    I'm thinking as a staff adjuster the starting salary is not $28,000 gross. Most likely they come with a benefit package as well, unless I am horribly mistaken?

    When I mean pay for performance, I mean chances for promotion though further education and excellent service.
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    ruddy
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    12/22/2014 1:03 AM
    IA---hard work, long hours starting and beyond...12-14 hr days, I ant even spell benny fits! learn xactimate..wait till a hurricane...save 3-4 months staying power cash. it took me 3-4 yrs to get deployed regularly. SF changed things last yr and I hung it up. "findings" my leg!
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    marknix
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    02/05/2015 3:43 PM

    Well Rboss, what did you decide? I will tell you, working as a CAT adjuster for an I/A is 7 days a week, 12/18 hours per day. Money is pretty good, if you get called out on a good storm. Some storms aren't as good. I recommend that you try to get on as an adjuster with an insurance company as it appears as if you a are looking for a 9-5 job. 

     

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    Tim Wieneke
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    02/12/2015 11:23 PM
    Nick,

    I was in a similar situation where I had effectively run and had to opportunity to take over and own a construction company but just knew that the market was tightening and the business model just wasn't going to make money and took the jump into claims. I went for an entry-level staff job to get experience in the business of handling claims. I had several offers and based off advice I got here, took a job with Farmers. They have a rigorous training program and first year and you will learn FAST whether or not you can handle this business. Following that I did almost 10 years as an independent and loved it. I had an advantage with having a carrier background getting daily claims when there weren't storms and my knowledge of policy and other elements of claims handling (i.e. subrogation) got me the best assignments during CATs. I just recently took a commercial examining job to give myself some stability and after hours time to study further and go to a more specialized level of claims handling. What I'm getting at is if you really want to do this, get a job at a company with a hard training program and you'll have a solid chance to show you can hack it. If you can, you'll be years ahead of the competition should you decide to go independent. Good luck with it.


    Tim
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    rboss32
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    02/25/2015 1:29 PM

    Hey Everyone,

    I just noticed that there were some new posts here. I spent another year running my construction company. This year had shown more growth and success. I hit my personal goal, but just barely. I actually in the last month have been applying for positions for field property adjustment, along with CAT adjustment.

    Previously it seems like a lot of people here believed I was looking for a easy job that I didn't have to actually work at. I am the opposite as a person. The business success I have currently is due to my hard work. I have no idea what a 8 hour work day is. My usual work day is from 7-7/9pm.

    I am looking for a career where I am using my brains more than my back. This year I was faced with more workplace injuries which I know if I keep doing this line of work will haunt me later on down the road. Sales in my current career are becoming more and more difficult due to completion in the industry. There are new companies every week that open and close in a few months time. This continues to hurt since they all take a little piece of the pie.

    I am hoping to obtain a long term career that offers great training. Benefits are important to me currently as I lack them being a small business owner. I am not looking for a easy gig, or a free ride. I honestly would like a job that challenges me, and culls out the weak. I enjoy devoting myself to work, and often feel that I am frequently a overachiever, and uncompensated for it.

    Currently I have submitted a few applications and resumes. I am in the middle of the interview process for a few large companies. I hope it works out, the work load seems demanding but the compensation seems generous.

    I'm not a person who thinks there is a free ride in life, and for the record I did not drive my construction company into the ground. It is still very much alive, and growing. I just want to take my life in a different direction.

    I do appreciate all the constructive responses I have received, and I hope more come.

    Are there any large insurance companies to stay clear of? I understand State Farm has a great training program, what other companies offer top of the line training? Training is important, if I am poorly trained there simply is not a great chance of long term success.

     

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    Marcus
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    02/25/2015 4:46 PM
    I hear Liberty Mutual is a good place to start and stay with.
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