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Newbie Questions Experienced Guys Please Help
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Medulus
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07/31/2008 12:08 PM

    I am cutting and pasting this post by Alex which was posted on the Catastrophe Central Forums.  I moved it over here because of CADO's policy to post these types of questions only in the community forum.   

     Alex wrote: 

    OK. Here I am. Just got my Georgia license (god, what a drag that was!) and ready to make millions   I've been in construcion for a few years (roofing estimator)  and dealt a lot with claim based construction work.  So, I just wanted to hear some advise from you guys, hardened in battles veterans....

     

     

    So, here we go.

     

    1. How do I get in? What should my strategy be? Should I try to get hired by a large insurance company to gain some experience? State Farm? Allstate? Or should I just get on the rosters of as many independents as possible and wait for a lucky day?

     

    2. What are the advantages and disadvantages of being a staff adjuster vs independent?

     

    3. Is there enough work right now? I hear a lot of older guys are leaving the field. Does that mean, it would be easier for me to find work?

     

    4. How much you all guys make? Honestly, is it worth doing what you are doing?  How much a typical staff adjuster makes? Independent? In storm situation? In  a slow year?  In an average year?

     

    5. What is better residential or commercial claims? How can I get to work commercial claims?

     

    6. Flood and earthquake certifications?  Do I need them? Are they beneficial to me at this stage?

     

    7. How many licenses should I get? In which states?

     

    Well, that is all I can think of right now.  I really do appreciate your help.

     

     

    Steve Ebner CPCU AIC AMIM

    "With great power comes great responsibility." (Stanley Martin Lieber, Amazing Fantasy # 15 August 1962)
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    Tim_Johnson
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    07/31/2008 5:28 PM
    I just think getting on a public sight and asking anybody how much money they make is............just rude.
    Get a staff job and gain some time there before you plunge out into the I/A world. The last 2 years have been tough!
    Tim Johnson
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    moco
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    07/31/2008 6:09 PM

    I just think getting on a public sight and asking anybody how much money they make is............just rude.

     

    My thought as well. Now to give my .02 ! You probably should try staff first, as the opportunities are thin right now,for IA's unless you are already working for a vendor. But, unless you have a degree the staff positions are probably going to be just as difficult to land.

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    teolson
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    07/31/2008 7:12 PM

    1. How do I get in? What should my strategy be? Should I try to get hired by a large insurance company to gain some experience? State Farm? Allstate? Or should I just get on the rosters of as many independents as possible and wait for a lucky day?

    If you can get in with a company I would do that, if not try a few of the bigger IA firms that offer training.



    2. What are the advantages and disadvantages of being a staff adjuster vs independent?

    IA make your own schedule (most of the time) ability to make more than the average staffer, get paid for the work you do.
    Disadvantages, months with no pay check, no insurance, no retirement, alot of stress, gone from family, months without pay, months without pay.




    3. Is there enough work right now? I hear a lot of older guys are leaving the field. Does that mean, it would be easier for me to find work? NO, and NO



    4. How much you all guys make? Honestly, is it worth doing what you are doing? How much a typical staff adjuster makes? Independent? In storm situation? In a slow year? In an average year?

    no one answer to this one, I honestly have no idea what everyone else makes, and I know I dont make what I am worth



    5. What is better residential or commercial claims? How can I get to work commercial claims? the one that is better is the one you have more knowledge of, and can be efficient at.



    6. Flood and earthquake certifications? Do I need them? Are they beneficial to me at this stage? yes, yes



    7. How many licenses should I get? In which states? as many as you can or want



    Well, that is all I can think of right now. I really do appreciate your help. if you are singal with no kids this would be a great job otherwise I would find something else. just my opinion.

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    Olegred
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    07/31/2008 8:42 PM

    hey, thanks for the replies....  The reason, I asked about the money quite bluntly is that I really need to know what the reward is. I hear all conflicting stories about some guys making 20-30 k a month. I just want to know if it's true. Sorry, if I hurt your feelings but it is what it is.

     

    So, your advise is to get hired as a staffer.... hmmm.....

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    we2
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    07/31/2008 9:14 PM
    Okay . . . Are you willing to work 12 to 15 hours a day, seven days a week? Great, that’s a start.

    Are you proficient in your estimating program, and can you write a report with correct grammar, mechanics & syntax? (I know there’s a spell-check, but it’s not all-encompassing, nor will it correct all your errors. The better & more correct your wording, the more professional you sound. It’s important, believe me.)

    Finding & working with a mentor/seasoned adjuster will give you more information/experience than all the classes you take (though the classes do have value, too.)
    Often, a mentor can/will indicate to an IA that you are ready (i.e., experienced enough) to take files, and you’re on your way.

    Just as graduating w/a Bachelor’s degree doesn’t guarantee you a job, passing a test & receiving an adjustor’s license doesn’t guarantee you work. Effort & experience are a large part of the requirement. And the willingness to work, work, WORK!
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    BobH
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    07/31/2008 10:16 PM
    Posted By Olegred 
    ...some guys making 20-30 k a month. I just want to know if it's true.

    If you go into a new field you are going to be slow until you gain familiarity with all the little wrinkles and learn the trade.

    Some mechanics make a lot of money, but the new guy will get a car he hasn't done before and not know the sequence of parts to remove to get to the timing chain or whatever - and he has to read the manual.  He will make less than "clock hours" on that car.  Every field has it's learning curve to get proficient at it. 

    The advice to get a staff job is so you can become proficient at it. 

    Bob H
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    Olegred
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    07/31/2008 10:36 PM

    Posted By we2 on 07/31/2008 9:14 PM
    Okay . . . Are you willing to work 12 to 15 hours a day, seven days a week? Great, that’s a start.

    Are you proficient in your estimating program, and can you write a report with correct grammar, mechanics & syntax? (I know there’s a spell-check, but it’s not all-encompassing, nor will it correct all your errors. The better & more correct your wording, the more professional you sound. It’s important, believe me.)

    Finding & working with a mentor/seasoned adjuster will give you more information/experience than all the classes you take (though the classes do have value, too.)
    Often, a mentor can/will indicate to an IA that you are ready (i.e., experienced enough) to take files, and you’re on your way.

    Just as graduating w/a Bachelor’s degree doesn’t guarantee you a job, passing a test & receiving an adjustor’s license doesn’t guarantee you work. Effort & experience are a large part of the requirement. And the willingness to work, work, WORK!

    I can work that's not a problem. I can learn faster than most of the guys, I know Xactimate and MSB, I know how to measure roofs, I can climb almost any roof, I am well organized and great in dealing with customers, and, yes, how I could forget this, I am a literate person. 

     

    Experienced adjusters to ride along with are hard to find...  I got Pilot # couple of weeks ago, but it looks like "newbies" are being held in reserve for a hurricane.

     

    I know State Farm is hiring for their CAT team, I might apply.

     

    I am a single guy, so travelling does not bother me.

     

    But still, come on..... what does an everage experienced adjuster makes in a storm situation? I am asking IN GENERAL...

     

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    Olegred
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    07/31/2008 10:37 PM
    Posted By BobH on 07/31/2008 10:16 PM
    Posted By Olegred 
    ...some guys making 20-30 k a month. I just want to know if it's true.

    If you go into a new field you are going to be slow until you gain familiarity with all the little wrinkles and learn the trade.

    Some mechanics make a lot of money, but the new guy will get a car he hasn't done before and not know the sequence of parts to remove to get to the timing chain or whatever - and he has to read the manual.  He will make less than "clock hours" on that car.  Every field has it's learning curve to get proficient at it. 

    The advice to get a staff job is so you can become proficient at it. 


    Well.... I guess I was just asking.... if you were me right now ..... looking back.... How would you go about getting into the business?

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    HuskerCat
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    07/31/2008 11:25 PM

    If you really want to know, and it is going to be wide range for IA's........during the hurricanes of '04 and "05, the IA's made (billed out prior to expenses) between $50-300K, but that was "billed out" and doesn't count their cut of 50-70% of that billable amount (vendor takes the first cut) less their travel and living expenses, plus the self-employment tax burden.  

    You really need to look at this profession as if you are a farmer, and I grew up as one.  Plan the program, plant the necessary seeds, fertilize as necessary, hope for rain & no hail as long as you have an irrigation system (in the event of no rain), and know when to harvest before the hard frost hits.

    Every good successful farmer, though, doesn't plant just one crop.  Diversification is the key, corn/beans/livestock,;;; or in the claims business, be able to to property/casualty-liability/heatth-life. 

    What you can make??? No one is going to divulge that here.

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    Medulus
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    08/01/2008 11:12 AM

    1. How do I get in? What should my strategy be? Should I try to get hired by a large insurance company to gain some experience? State Farm? Allstate? Or should I just get on the rosters of as many independents as possible and wait for a lucky day?

    I spent seven years working for carriers who showed me the ropes before I went independent. That training made me much more marketable than if I had simply shown up on the scene with my newly minted license in hand. I recommend it.

    2. What are the advantages and disadvantages of being a staff adjuster vs independent?

    The answers to this are individual. If you like some sense of security and knowing where the next paycheck is coming from, go with staff. If you're in it for the adventure and don't mind starving from time to time, go independent. Ask whether comfort or adventure motivates you.

    3. Is there enough work right now? I hear a lot of older guys are leaving the field. Does that mean, it would be easier for me to find work?

    A lot of older guys are leaving because there is not enough work to go around. Even the "older" guys are not getting enough work.  I had the worst year I ever had in the business last year.  I'm at least ten years from retirement age, so I didn't get out because of my age.  I got out because I worked as much as anyone I knew in the business last year(and more than most) and still couldn't get enough good work to make a living.  The newer folks are already gone, long gone.  When you're in a theater and you see everyone running for the exit, it isn't always a good idea to say, "Good, there are more seats for me. Who cares if I have to deal with a little fire?"

    4. How much you all guys make? Honestly, is it worth doing what you are doing? How much a typical staff adjuster makes? Independent? In storm situation? In a slow year? In an average year?

    Really, now, do you expect anyone to tell their income on a public website for all to see? I have recently returned to staff. Some years I netted half what I make now. Some years I grossed twice what I make now. In those years, the net was a bit more than I make now. Is it worth doing is an individual question. How much do you relish the storm? Remember that there is a big difference between gross and net. Road expenses are easily $1500 per week even if you are careful. That means that if you are lucky enough to work 40 weeks a year (a big if in the last few years) you need to overcome $60,000 in expenses at a bare minimum before you turn a profit. My best advice here is, "Don't listen to the Applebee's parking lot guy." You met him. He's the guy that told you he was making $20K to 30K a month.

    5. What is better residential or commercial claims? How can I get to work commercial claims?

    There are fewer commercial claim handlers than residential. Learn to work whatever claim they hand you and you are more valuable. I can recommend taking the AICPCU course of study to obtain an AIC designation in commercial claims. That should at least help you get your foot in the door. And let the vendor you work for know you are interested in learning commercial claims. Ask lots of questions on your first 1000 commercial claims so you don't mess it up. People like me who assign large commercial claims to independent adjusters have a low tolerance for inexperienced and inept adjusters playing around with a 6 million dollar claim. Also, on commercial claims, never assume you know what the policy says. Always get a copy of the policy and read what the coverage says. Remember that there are thousands of commercial coverage forms and endorsements. In addition, when a form or endorsement doesn't say what the underwriter wants it to say, sometimes the underwriter will write a new endorsement and add it to the policy. Some of the forms and endorsements change the coverage in radical ways. Always read the policy. (It doesn't hurt to read the homeowner's policy either.)

    6. Flood and earthquake certifications? Do I need them? Are they beneficial to me at this stage?

    Everything you do that makes you more marketable is a plus. You cannot be flood certified if you have less than five years claim handling experience. There is, however, a program that allows you to get it sooner by working with a flood certified adjuster. I don't remember the details because it didn't apply to me. If a major earthquake occurs in California and you cannot go because you did not take the one day certification class, you could be very sorry. Many adjusters worked the Northridge EQ for 1.5 years or more.

    7. How many licenses should I get? In which states? 


    You have a Georgia license.  You should also get Texas and Florida.  Oklahoma is likely to be useful.  That way you could go hang around with Larry Hardin after a storm.  Rhode Island will not let you work there without a license even if they have a catastrophe, but you are not likely to get an assignment in RI.  If you have Georgia, Texas, Florida and Oklahoma, you would have to use your own judgement for any others.  Many states issue emergency licenses when a catastrophe hits.

    Steve Ebner CPCU AIC AMIM

    "With great power comes great responsibility." (Stanley Martin Lieber, Amazing Fantasy # 15 August 1962)
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    LarryW
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    08/01/2008 8:59 PM
    Alex,

    My response to your post is that of an independent catastrophe adjuster.

    While having been a staff adjuster for twelve years, that ended in 1985 becoming an independent adjuster. Independent is not synanomous with catastrophe adjuster.

    You ask if it is true that some folks make 20-30K/ mo? Obviously you are out for the $. Some heart surgeons make three or four times that fugure.
    You ask how many licenses you should get? I would suggest just one, get a medical license in the state within which you live.

    We are in a supply and demand----free market system here.
    What do you have to sell? Adjusting knowledge? Adjusting skills? Adjusting experience? Heart surgery?

    I, as you, have heard that some adjusters make 20-30K/month. Having been an adjuster for 35+ years. I can tell you that if those claims are accurate, they are the extreem exception, not the rule. If that kind of $ is earned, it is because of specialized skill and knowledge developed over many years of hands on experience. Oh, there may be instances where that income level has been claimed by a few rookie adjusters (but I would seriously question such claims) during extreme catastrophe events. However, you will find those months were few and far between. Heart surgeons, on the other hand have a steady supply of customers, month in and month out.

    I would venture a guess that the average person who worked as an independent catastrophe adjuster during the last five years has realized a net adjusting income of less than 15,000/yr. Probably much less.

    I strongly suggest the staff route.
    No one is absolutely worthless, at the very least you can serve as a bad example.
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    Olegred
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    08/02/2008 3:49 PM

    Nice comparison to farming, I like that :)  Diversificating is smart, I agree, but it looks like my hopes for fast and easy money are disappearing fast.  Is it's so hard and uncertain WHY are you still doing it?

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    Olegred
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    08/02/2008 3:52 PM
    Posted By Medulus on 08/01/2008 11:12 AM

    1. How do I get in? What should my strategy be? Should I try to get hired by a large insurance company to gain some experience? State Farm? Allstate? Or should I just get on the rosters of as many independents as possible and wait for a lucky day?

    I spent seven years working for carriers who showed me the ropes before I went independent. That training made me much more marketable than if I had simply shown up on the scene with my newly minted license in hand. I recommend it.

    2. What are the advantages and disadvantages of being a staff adjuster vs independent?

    The answers to this are individual. If you like some sense of security and knowing where the next paycheck is coming from, go with staff. If you're in it for the adventure and don't mind starving from time to time, go independent. Ask whether comfort or adventure motivates you.

    3. Is there enough work right now? I hear a lot of older guys are leaving the field. Does that mean, it would be easier for me to find work?

    A lot of older guys are leaving because there is not enough work to go around. Even the "older" guys are not getting enough work.  I had the worst year I ever had in the business last year.  I'm at least ten years from retirement age, so I didn't get out because of my age.  I got out because I worked as much as anyone I knew in the business last year(and more than most) and still couldn't get enough good work to make a living.  The newer folks are already gone, long gone.  When you're in a theater and you see everyone running for the exit, it isn't always a good idea to say, "Good, there are more seats for me. Who cares if I have to deal with a little fire?"

    4. How much you all guys make? Honestly, is it worth doing what you are doing? How much a typical staff adjuster makes? Independent? In storm situation? In a slow year? In an average year?

    Really, now, do you expect anyone to tell their income on a public website for all to see? I have recently returned to staff. Some years I netted half what I make now. Some years I grossed twice what I make now. In those years, the net was a bit more than I make now. Is it worth doing is an individual question. How much do you relish the storm? Remember that there is a big difference between gross and net. Road expenses are easily $1500 per week even if you are careful. That means that if you are lucky enough to work 40 weeks a year (a big if in the last few years) you need to overcome $60,000 in expenses at a bare minimum before you turn a profit. My best advice here is, "Don't listen to the Applebee's parking lot guy." You met him. He's the guy that told you he was making $20K to 30K a month.

    5. What is better residential or commercial claims? How can I get to work commercial claims?

    There are fewer commercial claim handlers than residential. Learn to work whatever claim they hand you and you are more valuable. I can recommend taking the AICPCU course of study to obtain an AIC designation in commercial claims. That should at least help you get your foot in the door. And let the vendor you work for know you are interested in learning commercial claims. Ask lots of questions on your first 1000 commercial claims so you don't mess it up. People like me who assign large commercial claims to independent adjusters have a low tolerance for inexperienced and inept adjusters playing around with a 6 million dollar claim. Also, on commercial claims, never assume you know what the policy says. Always get a copy of the policy and read what the coverage says. Remember that there are thousands of commercial coverage forms and endorsements. In addition, when a form or endorsement doesn't say what the underwriter wants it to say, sometimes the underwriter will write a new endorsement and add it to the policy. Some of the forms and endorsements change the coverage in radical ways. Always read the policy. (It doesn't hurt to read the homeowner's policy either.)

    6. Flood and earthquake certifications? Do I need them? Are they beneficial to me at this stage?

    Everything you do that makes you more marketable is a plus. You cannot be flood certified if you have less than five years claim handling experience. There is, however, a program that allows you to get it sooner by working with a flood certified adjuster. I don't remember the details because it didn't apply to me. If a major earthquake occurs in California and you cannot go because you did not take the one day certification class, you could be very sorry. Many adjusters worked the Northridge EQ for 1.5 years or more.

    7. How many licenses should I get? In which states? 


    You have a Georgia license.  You should also get Texas and Florida.  Oklahoma is likely to be useful.  That way you could go hang around with Larry Hardin after a storm.  Rhode Island will not let you work there without a license even if they have a catastrophe, but you are not likely to get an assignment in RI.  If you have Georgia, Texas, Florida and Oklahoma, you would have to use your own judgement for any others.  Many states issue emergency licenses when a catastrophe hits.

     

     

    I hear, that this year is one of the busiest for insurance companies (tornadoes, flood, hail) and still you are saying there's NOT ENOUGH work?

     

     

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    Olegred
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    08/02/2008 3:58 PM
    Posted By LarryW on 08/01/2008 8:59 PM
    Alex,

    My response to your post is that of an independent catastrophe adjuster.

    While having been a staff adjuster for twelve years, that ended in 1985 becoming an independent adjuster. Independent is not synanomous with catastrophe adjuster.

    You ask if it is true that some folks make 20-30K/ mo? Obviously you are out for the $. Some heart surgeons make three or four times that fugure.
    You ask how many licenses you should get? I would suggest just one, get a medical license in the state within which you live.

    We are in a supply and demand----free market system here.
    What do you have to sell? Adjusting knowledge? Adjusting skills? Adjusting experience? Heart surgery?

    I, as you, have heard that some adjusters make 20-30K/month. Having been an adjuster for 35+ years. I can tell you that if those claims are accurate, they are the extreem exception, not the rule. If that kind of $ is earned, it is because of specialized skill and knowledge developed over many years of hands on experience. Oh, there may be instances where that income level has been claimed by a few rookie adjusters (but I would seriously question such claims) during extreme catastrophe events. However, you will find those months were few and far between. Heart surgeons, on the other hand have a steady supply of customers, month in and month out.

    I would venture a guess that the average person who worked as an independent catastrophe adjuster during the last five years has realized a net adjusting income of less than 15,000/yr. Probably much less.

    I strongly suggest the staff route.

     

     

    Well, I don't know how to say it without sounding rude but are you not ALL in it for more money?  Come on, let's not be hyprcrites  and pretend otherwise.

     

    I based my questions on the info that I got from a few adjusters I worked with... They were telling me that their goal was pretty much about a grand a day ....  One lady (IA Crawford) told me that if she was not making 20k a month she would not even consider the deployment.

     

    Other guy (IA Reinfro I think he was) told me that he was making about 100k a year... Are they bragging or lying or what?

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    BobH
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    08/02/2008 4:12 PM
    Posted By Olegred 
    ...it looks like my hopes for fast and easy money are disappearing fast.  Is it's so hard and uncertain WHY are you still doing it?

    Jobs that are "temporary" and uncertain often pay more than a "full time" job. You can't expect qualified people to just quit their steady job and go out of state for peanuts. As you can gather from the previous posts, this is hard work and requires a "runway" of experience to be able to produce what is considered an acceptable product without rejected files that are sent back to you for constant corrections.

    Some adjusters have paid their dues and can do this work more easily than someone just starting out. Maybe they have a decade or more experience in claims, and chose to work catastrophes when possible.

    Posted By Olegred 
    ...I hear, that this year is one of the busiest for insurance companies (tornadoes, flood, hail) and still you are saying there's NOT ENOUGH work?

    The number of catastrophe adjusters needed is not as high as 2004 and 2005. Now there is an abundance of people thinking that this is a way to make "fast and easy money".

    Posted By Olegred 
    ...I based my questions on the info that I got from a few adjusters I worked with... They were telling me that their goal was pretty much about a grand a day ....  One lady (IA Crawford) told me that if she was not making 20k a month she would not even consider the deployment.

    Other guy (IA Reinfro I think he was) told me that he was making about 100k a year... Are they bragging or lying or what?

    I don't think you are listening. Maybe not hearing what you wanted to hear.  The adjusters you talk to may have adequate experience to take advantage of the occasional catastrophe and do a professional, fast paced job without scratching their head wondering how to do the multitude of things that come up in this profession (like any other profession). You don't start out going 100mph. And you will be parked most of the year, sometimes all year.
     
    UPDATE: About a month after this post, Hurricane Gustav hit, followed by Ike.  The dry spell was finally over - but most adjusters did not work more than 2 months.  Some stay longer, and typically earn that right by doing exceptional work and doing the right things consistently
    Bob H
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    Tom Toll
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    08/02/2008 10:03 PM

    Olegred, Ray Hall and myself are the oldest adjusters in this little club. I can tell you straight out that you have to love this work to survive. After my 48 1/2 years of it, I still enjoy it, but am limited to what I can do. If your in it just for the money, you will never be a good adjuster, period. Yes, I have heard some younger adjusters say they made $200,000.00 in a year, baloney. If they did, and I doubt it, they are faster than superman. There are a lot of variables, the company who has employed the vendor, the vendor, and the territory assigned to you. Schedules are bad with some companies and some are livable. You take what the vendor gives you and if your lucky and a true professional, you will make a good living, but, there are no guarantees you will work. Cat adjuster means you work when a catastrophe event occurs. Some years, they just don't happen.

    I have been fortunate all my life, never lacking for work, until 2006 and 2007. We had local claims to do and had a nice savings account. We emptied the savings account. Fortunately a hail storm hit Ft. Smith, AR. and Cunningham Lindsey put us to work.  They were on a good schedule. Several tornadoes prior to the hail event got us floating again. We have our own claim service in Arkansas and when an event hits, we take off and all our companies understand that. My darling wife and I met almost 20 years ago and will be married 18 years this November. I trained Janice along with two other GA's. She loves it, not for the money, but for the adventure and the ability to help others, as do I. Janice and I have sense enough to know that work=money.  You say we are hyprcites if we are not in it for the money, of course we are. We all must make a living, but if you think you are going to become a millionare in this business, leave it now, it ain't gonna happen. What you have to remember is this, you work 16 to 19 hours per day, 7 days per week, so you are putting in twice an many hours as a Wal Mart employee or any other hourly employee. So if you make $120,000.00 in one year, in actuality, you only made $60,000.00 by normal working standards.  Then you have Uncle Sam breathing down your neck for his part of your hard work. I can assure you that if you don't put in those hours, you will not work long for any vendor, they expect it, as do the companies. There is so much you have to know in this profession that you should go to every school that you can, every seminar, and every claims event that you can.  You should offer help to a known qualtiy adjuster for in field training, as that is the best training.  I have a music degree, w ith a minor in psychology and a JD in law, as do some other adjusters I know. That has helped me so much all these years and was time well spent in college.

    Vale Tech, Farm Bureau Tech, Kennedy's School of Arson Investigation are among a few schools I attended, as should you. Vale Tech is almost a necessity in this current society. Knowledge gained is income you gain. I became a member of the International Society of Air Safey Investigators through hard work and knowldege of air craft. It is a hard society to get into, but, when I had my own company and investigated aviation accidents, I felt I needed to put in that extra effort to become a member. My friend, extra effort is required to succeed in anything we endeavor, especially in this business. Insurance gets more complex every year and if you don't know what your doing, you could get yourself in trouble, real quick.

    You have to be a fireman, mechanic, lawyer, plumber, electrician, accountant, carpenter, roofer, decorator, cabinet maker. flooring specialist, time manager, window installer, know concrete, psychology, doctor, and an indian chief,  and others to become a true adjuster. Think before you leap and use your cognitive ability to decide if you want to be away from home in an unknown town, with unknown people for months on end. If you feel your qualified and will put that extra effort into it, in seven years, you may just become an adjuster.

     

    Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.
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    Medulus
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    08/02/2008 10:07 PM

    In your response to my comments I guess you missed that I am not doing it anymore. I took an exceptional staff position in February and have been drawing a regular salary working for a carrier since then. My wife and I travelled together and were reluctant to give up the adventure, but the first half of 2005 was bad and all of 2007 was far worse.  The amount of catastrophe work out there is not the issue.  The issue is how much of it do they call you personally to do.  The carriers deploy their own staff first.  That would include their cat teams.  Then they go to the vendors who deploy their regular staff first.  Then, when they are getting very thin on the staff side, they call in the adjusters they have worked with and had good experience in the past.  Then they call in the ones on their B list.  Then, when the event is a Katrina or a Wilma, they call in those who are untried.  That would be just before they fire up the pick up truck and start rounding up people waiting for day work in the seven eleven parking lot. 

    I am now one of the guys who assigns the losses to independents. Bob Harvey is on my short list of who to assign to a claim if it occurs near San Luis Obispo. Mike Kunze (the artist formerly known as Racko) is on my short list for a claim in Nebraska. Tom and Janice Toll are on my short list for Arkansas.  These people know what they are talking about and know how to adjust a claim.

    So someone told you they shoot for a thousand dollars a day. For a couple months after a Katrina or an Andrew that may be possible for those who are able and willing to work a one hundred plus hour week. I will grant that. Of course, we're talking gross. Like any business you will need to deduct the expenses. Then comes the day when they decide the bulk of the initial work is done and they can send some folks home. The new people and those who have shown themselves to be incompetent go home first. A wise man who used to haunt this forum used to tell me that it is always easier to stay on the road and get a new assignment while you are already on the road. Once you go home, well, then you spend 40 to 100 hours a week trying to locate the next assignment, possibly for monthsw on end. And you don't get paid for that. And more and more companies want their own special training. You have to travel to that and take the courses and you don't get paid for that. And when you average it all out you get paid about the same per hour or less (some years far less) than a staff adjuster.

    I entered the independent side a decade ago when the market was very different. There had been no 9/11, no Katrina, no Wilma, no 4 in 04. I would not want to be starting out in this market.

    As for motivation -- I'm on the record as to my motivations. I wrote an article called View from the Slough: The Bonnum and the Summum Bonnum here on CADO. (Which looks like it got lost.  I will have to post it again.) I wrote it when I had been an independent for about three years.  I did catastrophe work, and may someday do it again, because the work was important and meaningful.  The rest - the adventure, my love of the storm, and the money included - is gravy.

    Steve Ebner CPCU AIC AMIM

    "With great power comes great responsibility." (Stanley Martin Lieber, Amazing Fantasy # 15 August 1962)
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    stormcrow
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    08/02/2008 10:35 PM

    "I am the job" A line from Ms. Congineality that I relate to. If you are Cat Adjuster then you are the job.  04 and 05 saw an influx of people who didn't have cat work in their blood, just $$$ in their eyes. Some of then turned in piles of crap and billed $200,000. Some even managed to get paid before they were found out. I love this business, the travel, the hardship, the new experiences places and people. I know I'll never be rich but I am having fun.

    I want to die peacefully in my sleep like my grandfather, not screaming in terror like his passengers.
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    HuskerCat
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    08/02/2008 11:18 PM

    I appreciate your vote of confidence, Steve, but doubt your carrier has any work remotely near my home base.  But Omaha, KC, Sioux Falls SD, isnt' all that far  If your carrier is writing anything in Nebraska or the Iowa or South Dakota area.  That would be strange....but maybe they should???

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