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Last Post 02/06/2008 10:03 AM by  dorothys
CAt Adjusters Under Scrutiny Again
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cowboy26995
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02/03/2008 5:28 PM

Ray Although this is a site devoted to CAT adjusting a lot of folks do daily claims as well which involve more than looking at a roof. Agreed Cat claims are easier to handle with no causation issues and coverage being fairly straightforward. However if you are dealing with a manuscript policy where causation is not clear you would expect that the carrier would want to benefit from experienced policy savvy experts. In regards to liability covers and the proper investigative techniques experience is the only teacher. You don't get good by reading a book. You can follow statement taking guidelines but knowing what to ask when doesn't come easily. I've read enough reports as an examiner to pre qualify a small handful of folks as "Experts" . There simply aren't that many. Also one needs to take into consideration the disservice done to the insured by poorly qualified folks. The prejudice suffered, the anguish and despair created by poorly trained individuals needs to come into play somewhere. These are people's lives we're playing with. They paid for protection and they get some "bumpkin" going "duh" when asked about coverage issues. We who pride ourselves on keeping current, getting more info are fed up with the prevailing attitude from carriers and vendors alike.

Marc Dubois
Executive General Adjuster
M.G.D. Claim Services Inc.
"Your Commercial Claims Solution"
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Ray Hall
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02/03/2008 6:03 PM

Marc I agree with you 100%. The top of the line adjusters who do catastrophe losses on large commercial losses or few and far between. I would guess only about  5% of all the "travelers" fall into that catagory. The re-insurors look at these losses very carefully and the leader is very wary of roster adjusters.

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cowboy26995
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02/04/2008 2:32 PM
Another problem was different state licensing requirements for adjusters, creating discrepancies about adjusters' qualifications, according to the GAO, "Prior to the 2005 hurricane season, some coastal states had few or no requirements, while others had requirements for most types of adjusters. Further, states can waive their normal oversight requirements after a catastrophic event to help address demand, as they did after Hurricane Katrina. As a result, significant variations can exist in the qualifications of claims adjusters available after a catastrophic event," the report said.

The GAO said more uniformity in state requirements for adjusters could enhance the qualifications of the adjuster force in future catastrophes and improve consistency.


Source: GAO
www.gao.gov

With varied and sometimes lax standards for licensing the "warm bodies" philosophy prevails. Although there are not enough "qualified" adjusters to address demand during Katrina like events according to some on this site does this mean that "three day wonders" are the solution? Surely we can be more creative than that!
Marc Dubois
Executive General Adjuster
M.G.D. Claim Services Inc.
"Your Commercial Claims Solution"
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ddreisbach
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02/04/2008 5:48 PM

Interesting discussion with a lot of good points made.  But it's time for a reality check.  Tom Toll said, "The dilemma we face is the carriers want feet on the ground to adjust their losses. They want their insured's contacted within a certain period of time, they want inspections within a  certain period of time, and to be honest, there are not enough qualified adjusters to handle thousands of claims."

There are two ways to accomplish this when there's a flood of claims like in 2004 and 2005:

  1. Bring inexperienced adjusters on board. Give them more training, you say? Can't, because the storm has come and gone and the insureds want to see their adjuster - any adjuster.  The more experienced guys go to the areas with the worst damage, and they hope most of the newbies will muddle through in the less damaged areas.  
  2. Pay thousands of adjusters to sit on their butts for possibly years at a time (2006 & 2007) so they'll be available when the storms hit. This just ain't gonna happen! They could hire a few thousand in the spring and put them through, say, a 3-week training course with the understanding that they'll be ready to go on a moments notice.

I don't believe there's enough downside to the carriers to make them change the way they're doing things.  A bunch of claims get botched and they're fixed (with profuse apologies) during clean-up. NBD!  I spent months after the '04 storms fixing claims botched by newbies.  Some were botched with amazing creativity!  (Or incompetence - take your pick)  With few exceptions the insureds accepted the problems as a result of the carriers getting slammed with claims.  I don't see anything changing anytime soon.

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cowboy26995
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02/04/2008 7:43 PM

I think that the previous post misses the obvious which is to make obtaining a license a tad more difficult. A three day course where you get the exam answers does't prepare anyone to do adjusting. Make the course more extensive and qualify people more adequately. Obviously the situation seems easy if you weren't on the receiving end of some incompetent adjusters recommendations. The grief caused those poor folks should not be shrugged off so easily.

Marc Dubois
Executive General Adjuster
M.G.D. Claim Services Inc.
"Your Commercial Claims Solution"
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Tim_Johnson
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02/05/2008 8:44 AM
The state of Arkansas is attempting to get a law passed that will require you to have 1100 hours of instruction in order to be licensed to weave hair. But you can get an adjusters license in 3 days? What's wrong with this picture?
Tim Johnson
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ddreisbach
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02/05/2008 9:32 AM
Posted By Marc Dubois on 02/04/2008 7:43 PM

I think that the previous post misses the obvious which is to make obtaining a license a tad more difficult. A three day course where you get the exam answers does't prepare anyone to do adjusting. Make the course more extensive and qualify people more adequately. Obviously the situation seems easy if you weren't on the receiving end of some incompetent adjusters recommendations. The grief caused those poor folks should not be shrugged off so easily.

To clarify: My previous post does not attempt to justify the current system of using some poorly trained adjusters in a catastrophe situation.  It simply expresses my cynical attitude that improving the system will cost the carriers money that they don't want to spend, and that they see no need to improve the system (especially if it costs them money).

And I missed the 'obvious' solution of making an adjusting license a 'tad more difficult' to obtain?  I didn't miss it - it just isn't going to help unless you make it a lot more difficult.  I'd suggest an apprenticeship program.  But even then, when the catastrophe hits what does the state government do?  That's right - they open the floodgates to get more adjusters (even unlicensed ones) on the job because the voters are clamoring for it. 

Correct me if I'm wrong (I know you will ), but California has made their license more difficult to get, haven't they?  I know my license is not reciprocal there.  When the wildfires hit did they say, "No three day wonders allowed!  You can't work here unless you've taken the exam and gotten our 'tad more difficult' license!"?   No, as I recall they dropped that requirement pretty quick and allowed out-of-state adjusters.

And, for the record, I took a 5-day course to get my license - not a 3-day.  It must have been a pretty good course because everybody passed the exam, including a few guys that would need detailed instructions and a personal trainer to fog a mirror!  Had to be a great course! 

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cowboy26995
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02/05/2008 11:29 AM
David We have a situation now where three day wonders attend to claims when the demand arises and then in periods of inactivity return to their previous employment. While doing the latter don't you think if they were forced to attend classes or seminars be it online or otherwise that the industry would not be better served? My point is although there is a high fluctuation between periods of activity and inactivity that it is not unreasonable to request that folks educate themselves. If a substantial number of people needed bypass surgery I'm sure you would not want some "newbie" performing the operation. Some have said cat adjusting is not brain surgery. I agree to a certain extent however being able to respond factually to an insured and properly settling claims is not too much to ask. The recent wave of very negative publicity is indicative of the industry's failures.
Marc Dubois
Executive General Adjuster
M.G.D. Claim Services Inc.
"Your Commercial Claims Solution"
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ddreisbach
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02/05/2008 12:26 PM

Marc, I don't disagree with anything you've said.  My point was that change is unlikely as long as the carriers and the state governments feel the present system is working to an acceptable degree.  Sure, there's some lip service and posturing going on in government, but will it result in change?

No question the adjuster's exam is a joke.  I've taken other professional license exams that lasted all day and made you sweat.  The aduster's exam should be toughened up at least to the level of the agent's exam.  Personally, I don't think you can learn to be an adjuster in a classroom.  A paid apprenticeship would not only train a person but would weed out those that can't cut it.  Off-season courses would be appropriate.  Our current system of CEU's and annual NFIP presentations, etc, are a start towards that. 

But you've got to admit; as long as the law allows the governor to declare an emergency and allow untrained, unlicensed adjusters to go to work after a storm there are going to be problems.  Look at the politics here.  If the carrier uses newbies (with the tacit blessing of the gov't) and gets into trouble, the gov't can come down on them and look like heroes.  It happened in FL in '04 and it's still going on in LA. 

On the other hand, if the gov't limits the carriers to trained (whatever that means), licensed adjusters and refuses to let the carriers bring in "temps", thousands of insureds may have to wait months to see one.  The carriers will have an excuse for the delays and there's going to be trouble in the statehouse.  There were 80,000 homes flooded in New Orleans by Katrina.  Can you imagine the uproar that would have ensued if the NFIP hadn't allowed one-day certification classes to boost the number of flood adjusters?  By doing that they took the heat off themselves and placed it squarely on the shoulders of the carriers.  They don't want it back.

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cowboy26995
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02/05/2008 3:36 PM

David Another way to deal with the number of claims that arise would be to use an onsite mentor program. Holding a measuring tape or delineating damages does not require anyone to be policy savvy just well versed in construction practices which a lot of the current crop of newbies are. A veteran adjuster accompanied by five "damage assesors" could easily handle a larger case load and provide the insured with a valid assesment of their policy entitlements. If the adjuster visits the scene walks thru the premises with the "assesor" then the latter is capable of doing the scope and xactimate or similar report. The adjuster answers policy queries and then on to the next one. This works I've used the system both on residential and commercial where I've had up to twenty"damage assesors" working condo association losses. This works a whole lot better than other systems because the insured is serviced rapidly and effectively by an experienced adjuster.Ray Hall has proposed a variation of this called the Ficus Tree and I think his idea is a valid one.

Marc Dubois
Executive General Adjuster
M.G.D. Claim Services Inc.
"Your Commercial Claims Solution"
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dorothys
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02/06/2008 10:03 AM

New "adjusters" were crawling out of the woodwork after 2004-20005 storms. Evans was training "adjusters" in one or two classes to pass the TX exam, and voila! adjuster! I was in there for Xactimate training, and one girl asked...."how do I know what's damaged?"  No wonder Wilma claims are still being reopened.

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