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Last Post 01/30/2012 11:23 PM by  JohnnyB
Need a mentor
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virgo39
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09/29/2009 12:06 PM

    I am about to embark on becoming a CAT property adjuster.  I am a NC resident and am looking for a mentor to help me in this process.  I need someone who is not bothered by seemingly unimportant questions.  I want someone who is experienced and can help me stay on track.  There is an insurmountable amount of info out there and a lot of contridictions.  I check postings several times a day to see if there is any new info I can gleen newbie info from.  I am a female and would appreciate any responses.

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    Tom Toll
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    09/29/2009 12:39 PM

    Good luck with your new endeavor. Just stay tuned on CADO.

    Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.
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    Ray Hall
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    09/29/2009 2:40 PM

    I will help you, but I will expect you to do a lot of work on your own. To start with try to read some text books of fire & casualty insurance. 2nd go on line and

    try to download the book Framing by Wagner or go to a local Lowes and purchase it for about $18,00. Then measure the room size of ever room in your house, draw a diagram(not to scale). Purchase a 30-35 foot wide blade tape. Take some photos of all the rooms in your house and describe what the photo represents. Front elevation looking S. Living room looking N into entry hall etc. Get out the Homeowners Policy and read it. Make notes if the questions you have. Take photos of all 4 sides off your house, send me your email address to my email (look up at this site) and by xmas you will know 1000% more than you do today. Also contact PowerClaim and Simsol in a few weeks to see if they still give you a free 30 day trial on an estimation system, but don,t waste the 30 days until we do a lot of work. It,s a five year program you are imbarking on to become a top notch catastrophe adjuster with a lot of help and hundreds of hour,s of study that you can do in your spare time. I will not waste much of my time if you are lazy and not willing to read and work. I have made this offer several times and no one has finished the course. I would like to help new people, but I will not if they can,t read and comprehend t . It took me about 3 years to get my first big promotion from a very large insurance carrier, that paid me to go to schools and work 50 hours per week in the field and office.  All work must be in PDF. I am writing a book. You can do it, just work hard.

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    virgo39
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    09/29/2009 4:46 PM

    Mr. Hall, although I appreciate the info you posted, I am really more in a beginning stage.  I am registered to take the State Farm cert in mid November. I also need someone from NC to help me figure out how to take the NC exam.  The website is not helpful for beginners.  I may, in the future take you up on the framing help, but I need to get the basics established first.  Thank you and I hope  I can contact you in the future.

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    Aaron McFadden
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    09/30/2009 2:26 PM
    I'm located in Lubbock, Tx and I recieved my Adjusters license a year ago. I'm having a hard time getting my foot in the door, I knew when I began this process it would be difficult, especially without a major catastrophe. I have recieved my State Farm certification and have also attending other training oppurtunites. I'm looking for some one in this area or near this area that may be willing to provide a mentorship or offer the help to get some claims under my belt. I'm willing to work with a mentor for free and also i'm willing to pay a mentor if neccasary. Do you know of anyone in this area.

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    Mike Smith
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    09/30/2009 3:42 PM
    Virgo39, that is an interesting view. What Mr. Hall is talking about is the beginning. Why try to get licenses and certifications for a job you can't do yet? Learn how to scope a house and have at least a general understanding of writing an estimate before trying to be a CAT adjuster.

    If you want to start in a job that will train you, that would be a daily claims adjuster.

    When I first started as a daily claims adjuster, I was told that after several years doing daily claims, I might get the chance to be sent out on a CAT. That seemed to be the understanding at the time, you needed to have a claims background or a construction background at least, and you might make it as a CAT adjuster. More and more people seem to want to just walk right into CAT adjusting and it's giving all of us a bad name.

    When you see carriers pull all of their work in-house, it is because of too many mistakes made on their files by independents, so the cost/benefit ratio goes to hell and they decide they'll save money by training their own staff to do it right the first time.
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    Leland
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    09/30/2009 5:31 PM
    Mr. Hall is offering basic help.

    If I was a beginner and serious I would grab the opportunity.

    Now, if you don't want to learn framing, you could get a job as an adjuster and tell your boss you only want losses where there is water damage to drywall, but no fire losses or car against wall that might have framing damage. Your boss might not appreciate your approach to the job.

    Or you could step up to the plate and learn the "bones" of the house.

    I've been doing this awhile and I've also done some framing with my own hands and I constantly wish I new more about it.

    A little bit of framing knowledge is fundamental.

    Even if the framing isn't damaged, the terminology comes up constantly:

    "we need to paint the rafter tails"

    "remove the subfloor from the joists"

    "you can measure the roof ridge from inside the attic by measuring the hip rafter"

    If you don't understand these phrases, because you don't want to learn framing, then you will mark yourself as someone not really competent at estimating and contractors will be able to easily befuddle you. Or if they are just being honest you won't be able to tell.

    If Ray Hall wants to teach you consider it a lucky blessing.

    I suggest you rethink your approach to his offer.

    I would also suggest that if you drive by a construction site, ask if you can watch, and if you are very nice, they might tell you what the names of the parts are. Then you will have a chance to become really good at estimating some day.
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    RJortberg
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    10/01/2009 12:44 AM

    Well said Leland. The general question is how do you learn enough background information to be good in this business? OJT is very hard to come by since the currently low number of CATs dictates deployments, so new people need to learn the background info some other way so that they do not wash out during the initial stress of a deployment.  I think Ray's offer is about one of the most honorable things one can offer. A veteran offering to help new people out. Ray, that's very nice of you. By the way, I did buy the framing book Ray recommends, and I have bought a few others as well. I'll list some of the best sources of info that I have come across below. Bottom line, if you don't know structural systems and the real details of construction, then you really can't do too much in this or complimentary businesses.

    Resource #1: I went to three days of construction methodologies classes last month for continuing ed, and the classes were taught by a person named Jim Canestaro. Jim is an architect from Knoxville and was a professor at the University of WI-Madison, and he has a two day seminar regarding commercial construction and a 1 day class for residential. The residential class really should be two days long as he covered very much material. Personally, I thought the commercial class was the better of the two.  Basically, Jim shows about 1,500-1,800 slides per day, running two slide projectors simultaneously- kind of old school w/ the projectors, but the pics are great.

    The slides show many different construction methodologies as well as mistakes. Jim is always out photographing job sites as he travels around to teach the seminars, and when he has seen something going wrong during construction, he takes extra photos. In some cases, he has been able to follow up over the following 10-20 years to photograph the ramifications of the initial mistakes.  His classes were the best I have attended over 25-30 years of professional education, bar none. If you can sign up for his classes, you will not be disappointed.  He generally teaches these classes for real estate appraisers, brokers and assessors, so it will take some work to figure out how to take them.  If you search the internet for his name, you will find numerous references and schedules for his classes. Top notch.  He would be a great speaker for continuing ed for adjusters, but he is very busy with his current load of seminars. 

    Resource #2: In the class, Jim strongly recommended the following book:
    http://www.amazon.com/Visual-Dictio...0471288217

    I bought it, and I think it is very informative. it is a visual dictionary of architecture / construction- much different and more detailed than many of the framing and construction books.  Even as experienced as many of the members of this forum are, I still think this book is well worth the money. Very detailed, very user friendly and pretty cheap at $33.  It is a great reference book to keep on your bookshelf, and you will learn something reading it. 

    Resource #3: Another book that is interesting is:
    http://www.amazon.com/Inspecting-Ho...amp;sr=1-1

    This book is about inspections, and it is helpful because it discusses issues which can be ongoing sources of damage. The guy writes well, and he has lots of photos of things done wrong that could be important to know when it comes time to determine different possibilities for cause of loss. This one is probably better for newer people than for more experienced folks.

    Resource #4: Another website I have just found out about is:
    http://www.contractortalk.com/?OVRA...7058584521
    This is a gold mine of info - it is basically contractors discussing different possible scope issues for the jobs they are working on.

    And finally - Resource #5); Old posts on the CADO website. This website is probably the best gold mine of info. I only wish it were easier to cull the wheat from the chaff, though I have grown fond of reading some of Larry's older quips and jokes.  For example, Roy, it would be great to put some of the most memorable posts into some kind of sticky notes for future reference. For example, Bob Harvey's excellent post about scoping fire damage / and moisture meters were excellent as are many others of his, and it is a shame that it is not easier to find them on the website. Chuck D's 102 handout is something that is also great info, and it might be nice to add that in as a download like the forms and scope note sheets. Finally, Steve E's case studies are great ways to learn policy nuances - great reading and very thought provoking.

    So, if a person like Ray offers a person a road map on how to get good, as well as enough hand holding to carry one through much of the process, and if someone choses to go a different direction, it is worth pointing out that there is a pretty high risk of failure unless one is really fortunate to find or develop a better system. You don't need to reinvent the wheel, but you do need to be willing to drive and to dig in to figure out this business, and Ray's plan is a great place to start.



     

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    ChuckDeaton
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    10/01/2009 7:54 AM
    My Cat 102 remains free for the asking just email me and this board remains open for any question.
    "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
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    Leland
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    10/01/2009 9:09 AM
    You can also find great videos on the internet to learn framing. I watched one that was at least 20 minutes long showing US Navy Seabees framing a building from the the foundation up. 1950's movie, and it was interesting to see the older framing style in process, and of course some of the buildings I adjust are from that time. Diagonal floor sheathing vs. plywood, for example.

    All you have to do is go to google and click on the video tab and type in words like "framing" or "foundation". The other day I found a huge set of very detailed videos on slate roofs.

    The information is out there.

    And if you want to get a job in this business on your interview you can say:

    "I want to be succesfull in a career as an adjuster so I have been reading books on construction, watching videos on construction, and I also went out on a couple of weekends with a contractor I know to watch him pour a foundation."

    That might make the difference between candidates.

    Another good thing to say: "I have been reading books on adjusting and copies of policies".

    Most people just don't want to do the homework.

    Which is exactly why anyone doing the homework will stand out compared to other job candidates.
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    RJortberg
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    10/01/2009 10:01 AM

    One other good book is by Habitat for Humanity... kind of a layman's book on how to build a house.

    www.amazon.com/Habitat-Humanity-How...1561585327

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    Leland
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    10/01/2009 11:09 AM
    Which brings up another good point- anyone can volunteer to help Habitat to build a house and you will learn a lot.

    1) You can learn construction to strengthen your adjusting skills (if you need it...)
    2) you can learn construction for your own property investments that you will make after earning the big money in a major CAT

    I went a few times to Mexico and built some houses with my Church, it was a great experience and i learned quite a bit from the general contractors that were running the jobs.

    And one of the best ways to get your mind of your troubles is to help someone else with worse troubles.

    I'm sure if two nice, inexperienced people both applied for an adjusting job and one could say that they helped build a house to learn about estimating I bet the Habitat volunteer would get the job.

    It's amazing how much further ahead somebody could get with just 8 hours of homework, 40 hrs would make you the star applicant, at least compared to others with no experience.

    It was either Thomas Edison or Henry Ford who said most people don't recognize opportunity when it shows up, because he's wearing overalls.

    On a related subject do you guys think there is a shortage of qualified adjusters?

    Is there a pool of wanna be adjusters that are struggling to get into the industry at the same time there is a shortage of qualified people?

    If so, where are the job ads?

    Is there a shortage of the right kind of training/school in this industry? Is the available schooling the wrong kind of schooling?

    Are we having a shortage of qualified people due to older experienced people leaving the business?

    Are there a lot of older folks with small indepenent adjusting firms that they would like to sell? Yes/no?

    Are the small independents going away, or thriving? Bigger vendors getting bigger?

    Is the "CAT" market different from the daily claims market in these ways?
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    virgo39
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    10/01/2009 11:34 AM
    I certainly appreciate all of your helpful suggestions and criticisms. I will take all advice I have received so far and proceed accordingly. Looking forward to more of the members' ideas. Thanks to all of you!
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    Ray Hall
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    10/01/2009 12:20 PM

    I seem to be a minority. I do not think the regular claims IA business has a shortage of adjusters. Most of these adjusters are insurance carrier trained for several years 5-15 possibly, before they made the change. Most were ex-managers or assistant managers of all lines claim departments

    It seems people with 3-5 years carrier experience have a very good change of promotion by a job change. This has been the way since I was a trainee.

    Large companies cross train auto-casualty adjusters to work catastrophe property claims and this is the reason most of the hail losses this season fell into this catagory or in a 50/50 IA and staff storm which is pretty normal. I  have worked in auto-casualty claims for majors in their employees desk for weeks at a time at $30.00 per hour plus overtime, while they were on a 4 week storm.

    The catastrophe adjusting industry is as differant from the regular claims as two farm animals. The differance is you can go to storm work from regular work, but it,s almost impossible to do reqular work when you are not on a storm, unless you have some company background. In recent years catastrophe companies have been getting into regular claims and people in rual or small towns have a better chance than the city dwellers.

    I do not think a shortage of quailified catastrophe or wantabee catastrophe adjusters exist for the following reason. If about 5-7 of the largest homeowner writers in the US would cross train their auto-casualty, fidelity adjusters and make the overtime work very lucritive the adjusters would line up to work a 3 week storm, a week off with pay and then another 3 weeks etc. The work they left behind could be done by the people left behind with help from the $30.00 per hour people who almost available anytime. Also the local IA's benefit from "over flow" on a big or small catastrophe event.

    Having said all this if you are in the top 10% of professional Fire & Casualty adjusters in the US none of this applys.

     

     

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    Ray Hall
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    10/01/2009 12:42 PM

    I don not think the small IA's will ever be gone. When I had a small office in Houston many years ago (4 people) most of my business was either very large losses that needed an investigation or very large losses that would take 20.30.40 hours of work. I did a lot of overflow from carriers that had a large claim department in Houston, because they did not want to tie up their people on either as they let their employee take a dast tract and and I had to take the full blown track. Many carriers do not have claim offices in ever large city. Many claim departments request a particular adjuster, one who has a record and the client trust.. Most of the sell outs of old established firms that I have seen in my years don,t seem to work that well. If a top adjuster worked for a firm for many years or at least several years it may work. The owner/founder name is not as valuable as the price tag it seems, but they do sell. I would work for one year before signing a note for $xxx and get to know the clients; and see how many new one,s you can bring in.

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    Ray Hall
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    10/03/2009 11:11 AM

    I have made a new post today for new people , go to the adjusters den on chat. I will creat a new room and we can do some interactive training several hours per week. I will invite all new people and any others to join in. This will not be a chat site as such. I will expect people who do not have as much knowledge as some off us. I  was a contributor to claims mentor for years and kinda miss the classes.

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    brighton
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    10/03/2009 5:51 PM

    Leland,

    In response to you questions about todays claims market;

    Do you guys think there is a shortage of qualified adjusters?
    Yes, many of the carriers over the last 10-15 years have gone from having field adjusters to desk adjusters and using body shops, building contractors and computer generated bodily injury programs to tell the desk adjuster what to pay. Some of the carriers have gone as far as to have claim programs on their web site so the insured can file their claim, submit invoices and get paid this way.  As a result, these folks are good at what they do but are not as familar as the previous generation of adjusters in knowing what is really needed to get the job done and keep the file closed. Since carriers do not hire as many staff as they used to and the knowledge pool is quickly shrinking.

    Is there a pool of wanna be adjusters that are struggling to get into the industry at the same time there is a shortage of qualified people?  Yes. However, this pool of wanna be's will continue to have a hard time as carriers will not be hiring like they did in the 70's and 80's. It appears that the need will be for appraisers and scopers. These folks will be doing the field work and sending the paperwork to the desk adjuster to conclude with the insured. If you look at some of the postings you will see a position for field property appraiser and one for adjuster. The adjuster position will pay more and will require more time in grade than the appraiser position.


    If so, where are the job ads? As mentioned earlier, many of carriers are not needing as many staff as previous years. If you look around, it is now the small and regional companies that are taking on the property insurance. The larger carriers want the auto in personal lines and in commercial they are very picky. They really want the life insurance sales and investment ends.

    Is there a shortage of the right kind of training/school in this industry? Is the available schooling the wrong kind of schooling? Besides Vale, Tech Cor, Crawfords schools, there is nothing out there that can really purport to be a real training school. Many that claim to be "training schools" are nothing more than a source of income for firms when there is no claim work out there. They will also try to get someone to take their courses under the premise that they will then be on the call up list. While that person will be on the list, most likely it will be at the bottom and what is the difference as unless there are claims, no one will get called. Most  training came from the initial claims schools the carriers or large IA firms had for trainees. Then it was some in-service training and a whole lot of OJT and time in the job. You cannot learn this job and be proficient just by classroom and book learning. The Travelers has invested millions recently to go back to having trained staff. Some have stated it was because of the hurricanes of 04 and 05 as the reason. In reality, they found that between the former St. Paul, Aetna, USF&G and Travelers adjusters that comprised  their core who were retiring, they were quickly finding that there was a serious lack of experience outside the walls of the umbrella to replace the retirees.  

    Are we having a shortage of qualified people due to older experienced people leaving the business?
    Yes


    Are there a lot of older folks with small indepenent adjusting firms that they would like to sell? Yes


    Are the small independents going away, or thriving? Bigger vendors getting bigger? Depends where you are, Like Ray said, smaller ones do well in small towns while the larger ones do better in the cities.

    Is the "CAT" market different from the daily claims market in these ways? Again, Ray said it when he said it is night and day. You live with a claim when it is a day claim. Storm claims are hit and run and leave it to either the clean up folks or the poor staff schmuk who will have to live with it when the turn and burn people leave.

    This year has been a very poor year at least where I live for day claims. Almost every one I have known this year has had a very bad year for work. There have been some folks who got lucky and wehre in the right place at the right time and kept working cat losses but even that has been very light this year.

    The claims business is shrinking in the need for independent adjusters. The need is going to be for appraisers and scopers for storms. Carriers will be looking to pay less for these folks and demand more. This is the nature of business either in insurance or manufacturing. The company wants the most it can get for the least cost from their vendors.

    Rocke Baker
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    Ray Hall
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    10/03/2009 6:23 PM

    Rocke Baker are you tripping out on something, appraisers, roofing salesmen, and scopers replacing old fashined Texas style roof thumpers, who prefer to leave their diesel duelie idle while making the roof inspections.... it can't be done that way....... but it is. Good post.

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    RandyC
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    10/05/2009 4:21 AM
    I love adjusting claims, but I would never advise anyone without very specialized background to get into this business. As a master electrician and IBEW member, I can finish a storm and be back working in my old field within a week of closing my last claim. I can equally accept a new deployment with a phone call and my contractor employer always knows I'm subject to be gone on a moment's notice.

    Not everybody can do that!

    I have lots of adjuster friends with even more specialized backgrounds than my own, waiting to work a few months a year when called. One friend, having attended one of Ray Hall's workshops, Vale as many of us have, and scores of other training programs works almost constantly. He is the exception!

    As one new adjuster and sometimes an old one gives up this business, two more emerge from the crowd tired of their old jobs. The industry is never comfortable with the numbers. It still looks for fresh talent...even if it can't work them on a regular basis. It's okay to aspire to be an adjuster, but even before their first class they should, "know before they go!"

    RandyC

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    jdacree
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    10/11/2009 12:19 PM
    Just using this as a method to bookmark on MY Topics so that I can find the post with reading references
    Jim Acree Stupidity is the art of not trying to learn Ignorance is the lack of opportunity to learn I am ignorant
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