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Gale Hawkins (Gale)
Posted on Wednesday, August 08, 2001 - 11:07 am:   

Ghostbuster I see where you are coming from but the “poor, suffering slob adjuster” is not the source of inefficiencies in claims handling per se because admin wise the adjuster is just one link in a long chain.

It is hard to believe but on a typical claim often the insures information is being retyped 4 - 5 times and after the claim is finally back to the carrier it takes eyeballs and fingers to extract the information needed to cut the check.

With an open standard format for property claims information, 50 - 85% of losses would not have to be examined by eyeballs and more inconsistencies from the field would be caught as well and customer satisfaction would be up.

I agree voice recognition estimating software will be nice and have heard that the next version of MS Windows supports voice so it may be mainstream in a few years but again the adjuster is only one link in a long chain and currently he or she is not the “Problem”.

Ron Pylant told me last January that DDS had put a right smart of effort into voice but that they were still a year away at that point but I have not learned of MS&B’s commitment to voice. The hardware is catching up to the software demands. In fact several CADO members are using voice recognition software in different ways. Naturally as it becomes part of the operating system more will develop software using the technology.

Ghostbuster I hope it makes you feel better to know you are not the major source of inefficiencies that are driving up claims handling cost. People that know more than myself assure me that the adjuster and his software comprises only about 10% of the carriers concerns in the handling of property losses. It is the inefficiencies in getting the loss to the adjuster and then back to the carrier in a standard electronic format so they can start the admin process of settling the claim and storing the file for later research that is their overriding concern today because that is the area where the most cost can be squeezed out. After all the adjuster is producing more than every for less than ever if one can believe what he reads on CADO.:)
Ghostbuster (Ghostbuster)
Posted on Wednesday, August 08, 2001 - 9:25 am:   

One small point, Gale.

Property adjusting, by its very nature can never come close to the efficiency of auto or medical claims in terms of shear numbers. With medical claims, those file are imported into a computerized office for processing. Auto appraisal claims are likewise handled by bringing the car to a central location for handling in an automated setting.

Property claims, however, cannot be handled by bringing the house in to the claims office. (Except, of course, when tornadoes come a calling.) Some poor, suffering slob adjuster has to rise from the throne, mount the trusty steed, and go forth to slay the dragon in its own lair. That's right, we make house calls. Here is where the gross INefficiencies begin, because NOW, the human elements take center stage.

I foresee, (in my gypsy crystal ball, the same one TV's Miss Cleo uses), that one way to increase our field productivity is voice recognition for estimating directly into the laptop. Can your wizards in the dungeon pull that off, Gale?
Gale Hawkins (Gale)
Posted on Wednesday, August 08, 2001 - 1:22 am:   

Part 1

“The Price of Adjusting Software” is an issue that has been on my mind for the last 1825 days. Tonight I took the time to read though this thread (after spending 2.5 great hours of eating and playing with the family at the park) and now I see the error of this thread. Including my post there was a logical appeal to the fact that adjusting software is worth its price regardless where it is $500 or 2 – 3 times that much per year.

As I think back to the winter of 1996 – 1997 it hit me this subject has nothing to do with logic. In July of 1996 when we said “yes” to creating an estimating software package (out of ignorance by the way) what to charge for the software was our first major hurdle.

Thanks to a local adjuster I learned about the annual Claims Service Guide and paid $80 to get a copy so I could start researching what I had gotten us into. As some of you know I use the Sam Walton approach, “Ready, Fire, and Aim”.

My first major shock was that only ½ of the adjusting firms were using any of the major adjusting software vendors estimating systems in 1996. Some were using antiquated DOS systems, some of the very creative ones had created spreadsheet-based systems and many were just plain out using a “manual system” (handwriting).

At first I would ask them when they were going to get computers only to hear, “Oh we have computers”. Then came my question, “Why?” were they were running their business without using current adjusting software.

To my surprise the reply was over and over we are not going to pay no $1,000 or $2,000 per year of adjusting software. It flew it the face of logic and made no sense at all to me.

Well already with the goal to become the top player in the industry I would just ask what they would be willing to pay for an easy-to-use, fully functional estimating system per year (thank God that the annual subscription was already in place and accepted by the industry).

Over and over I would hear the figure of $500. For those of you that get excited about “Bell” shaped curves it was interesting that in my research the low figure was $200 per year and the high figure was $800 per year. As you can see both were exactly $300 on either side of the most common reply of $500.

The price we had played with before the research was in the $799 to $999 price range, which would have made us the less expensive of the top of the line packages in 1996. As a scientist I knew it did not make sense to discount the finding of valid research so we went back to the drawing board on pricing before we really even had a good focus on the actual development of PowerClaim (the name came later).

Unlike the other developers in 1996 we were being taught a very painful lesson in the hardware side of our company which we have since dropped. That was that high prices tend to drop and drop hard. We were buying components and building a premium line of computers only to see prices drop so fast that any profit was being squeezed out of our business. This was because our overhead could not be reduced as fast as our profit margins were dropping.
Gale Hawkins (Gale)
Posted on Wednesday, August 08, 2001 - 1:19 am:   

Part 2

Then it hit us that if we could create a software firm that would be profitable selling adjusting software at the sub $500 price that we would have totally removed the major objection at that time (price) to the purchasing of adjusting software by the adjusting industry.

We quickly learned from the rumor mills that Xactimate most likely had become addicted to their pricing structure because of their overhead as we had done in our computer hardware side of the business and therefore could not long-term compete against a superior estimating system that could be profitable sold at 40% of the cost of Xactimate.

As a “newbie” it was easy to see that Xactimate was the number one player and the market to focus on because of their number of users but since it was 1998 before we got on the market and DDS was starting to create a “buzz” (when Xactimate had a positive buzz it was before our time) in the industry it seemed more advantageous to market into the DDS “buzz” since our advertising budget was almost non-existent and we needed all of the leverage we could get. It was just easier to get the staff exited about competing against DDS than Xactimate because of the claims that DDS were making and the way they were spending money like it was no tomorrow. We do miss them.

Life has not been easy of the past 5 years but our plan is working. It was a hard sell to investors when you are trying to convenience them by giving twice as much for only 40% of the going price is the road to success.

When you ask “Why?” is the property claims industry light years behind the medical claims industry and years behind the auto claims industry it is much easier to accept the fact that “The Price of Adjusting Software” is the largest reason for artificially high claims handling cost in our industry. It is indirect in nature because the true cause is not the price of adjusting software but that the “perceived” high price kept many from using estimating software for years which lead to low productivity in handling property claims.

Open standards are coming which has already begun to change the landscape of adjusting software vendors as we all have recently witnessed. Even if the “buy-in” price of estimating software stays about the same the “cost” of estimating software will continue to drop because of its increasing efficiency due to a trend toward “Open Standards”.

Some of you may disagree with our research and/or our interpretation of it and I will be glad to read your replies. Remember I have physically sold the farm and have all my eggs in one basket based on our 1996 market research or in other words “total commitment”. One day I will have another farm and tractor(s).
Russ Doe
Posted on Tuesday, August 07, 2001 - 8:24 am:   

Anyone that can't make money, no matter what Software they use, should stay on the porch!!!
Glad to have you back,Gale.
David P Bennett (Whitey)
Posted on Monday, August 06, 2001 - 8:31 pm:   

Well, lets see. I am somewhat perplexed. Didn't think the fee schedule I was working off was that different than most. I based the fee off an average claim involving the following: Roof damage (of course northeast roofing runs 125.00 to 175.00 a square) debris removal, gutters and downspouts (4.00 to 5.60 a lf), ice guard if required by code (most carriers have agreed to pay for) screens, trim to paint (if exposed) Siding (Well this can be a big ticket item. All of the carriers in this area, are paying to wrap houses complete when the siding color, grain and size are not matchable and if size is matchable and grain close, they are paying to refinish the house, when color not matchable but grain is a close match) and of course at least here in the northeast midatlantic area they are including overhead & profit if two or more trades (not all carriers ). Then if permits are necessary and debris for siding, electrical to disconnect and reconnect AC juncture and or meter, Dryer vents, ladder jacks for two story and any aluminum wrappings on facia or windows) Well you end up with a claim in the $8,000 to $15,000 range on average.

Now I know that alot of the items being included in this area have not and are not included in other areas and the pricing well (aluminum 2.65 to 3.25 a square) is higher here.

The trick to looking at and writing 8 claims a day is, well set by your inspection, diagraming and measuring ability. The ability to set a macro on your estimating system and the closeness of the losses. I know some adjusters that in one area have worked 10 a day and still had time for happy hour. However getting a little older and 7 to 8 a day is adequate for me.

Well enough on the fee schedule, here's an average on just a couple of areas

3,000 to 5,000 loss Wind & Hail $390.00 Base (plus photos and mileage) $455.00 other perils.

It goes up and down from there. Generally $10,000 and over is T&E although some carriers have set schedules up to $20,000.00. Depends on the carrier and the deal cut by the vendor your working for.

I like the major players myself. No problem getting paid, E&O coverage and worman's comp. Well enough said.

Oh one thing I forgot, I don't just do storm related losses. Makes it so going out on storm is well not really a necessity.

Besides, with my committment to SIMSOL, can't spend all my time in the field. Gotta keep the database's current on pricing, new construction material and technigues.

Oh you could work on a daily basis of say $700.00 where you get 60% or $420.00 a day and only required to work 5 losses a day. Of course there are better deals for those qualified.

Besides, Jim, you know the fee schedules in the field and it really does depend on the area hit and type of claims involved and damage associated with each.

Simple question, aluminum siding, dented on two sides: Double 3 3/4" alum. Still available? Yes by special order, NAPSCO, color match, probably not, refinish yes .81 to .90C a square foot. Vinyl, with fading and grain pattern changes, probably not available to match. Do You OWE TO REPLACE ALL SIDES? Used to be this was a consequential loss. Seems the powers to be have now decided that matching is a necessity. (Couple of cases in upper midwest).
Gale Hawkins (Gale)
Posted on Sunday, August 05, 2001 - 5:54 pm:   

Jim only to let another know that my lack of being actively involved in the current discussion was not due to my lack of interest. As those that have read three or more of my postings over the years realize I am more non-linear in my thought patterns than those like yourself. I follow more of a converational pattern also as if in a face to face discussion as well. Sorry I lead you to post off of the subject. You are forgiven. :)
Gale Hawkins (Gale)
Posted on Sunday, August 05, 2001 - 5:42 pm:   

Back to the subject of this tread, I agree with David and the others that say that DOS software is a dead issue because the carriers are demanding features that will NEVER be included in a DOS program if for no other reason other than the fact that there is no DOS platforms being pushed by Microsoft.

We can live in the past but we all get paid for producing in the present and our future lies in the future, not the past. The question as I see it is how can we today best meet the needs and wants of the carriers with Windows based adjusting software tools?

Again I think one should look at cost and not price. As pointed out in this tread the price differences between the better know estimating systems is about $500 - $700 per year so the purchase price is a non issue for that semi-aggressive CAT adjuster because if you will run 500 – 700 claims per year we are only talking an addition $1 per claim for the most expensive choice. Some buyers perceive price a major issue for example if they purchase 1000 copies a year because they see the $500K to $700K difference in upfront cost.

Training and transition cost typically will out weight the price of the software itself but is often overlooked I fear. This industry is just starting to understand what technology can do to increase its profits and who can best help them reduce cost. As John pointed out open standards will make software more valuable to both the adjusters and the carriers. An open standard has recently happened in the auto world of adjusting and cannot be far behind in the world of property adjusting because the carriers will demand it.

I predict 18 months from now there will be enough vendors working around a developing open standard for property claims to make “Open Standard” the buzz word in this industry and that the technology will be looked upon by all players as a positive development. We only have to look at the medical and auto world of claims handling to realize what will happen in the world of property claims so my prediction is really not a prediction at all but only a simple deduction.
Jim Flynt (Jimflynt)
Posted on Sunday, August 05, 2001 - 5:10 pm:   

Gale, with all due respects, what in the heck does meth production, false arrests and backwoods law enforcement in the wilderness of Kentucky have to do with this topic?

According to my dictionary, germane does not apply to your post.
Gale Hawkins (Gale)
Posted on Sunday, August 05, 2001 - 4:58 pm:   

Kyle I think most of us do not have to worry about getting arrested but it can happen. There is always two sides to every story but just the same a person can suffer greatly because of the false word of another.

The person that got caught red handed had helped out some it her father’s business and was aware that they had things like plastic tubing, ether starting fluid, carburetor clean, table salt, coffee filters around the place as well as syringes which she used to draw blood for the vet at the bimonthly horse sale locally. On top of that a stranger would swear she was on “speed” by the way she runs wide open all of the time but she has been doing that for the past 25+ years.

Combined with the fact that she talked about meth production with the guy that called that was in the process of being booked for meth production with a detective listening on the phone there were grounds to get a warrant although the taped conversation did not seem to indicate she was serious. Later she was told if she would give $2K to the sheriff’s slush fund that she could get a deal. This only made her mad because she felt like is was a shake-down since she did not break the law in the first place.

In the name of doing good many of our former freedoms have been taken. Until you reach a trial by jury you are now guilty until proven innocent. I do not like the trend I see because of the power it gives some poorly trained officers of the law.
Kile Anderson (Kileanderson)
Posted on Sunday, August 05, 2001 - 4:22 pm:   

Wow! David, who are you working for. Let me see. On a hail storm the average claim will have roof and guter damage, that's a base fee, maybe some siding damage if you're lucky, an outbuilding, and if you're really lucky some patio furniture out back. So that billing from my experience would be $365.00 and my cut would be $237.25 and with 7 claims a day which would be a good day because I like to be thorough that would be $1660.75. That, to me, would be a really good day. Now maybe there are some studs out there that can do 8 a day and can do this everyday. I feel very good if I can get 7 inspected and closed in a day. Usually it's 6. So, what company are you working for? Maybe you're fee schedule is a little more generous than the one I've been working under.

Let me get back to the point of this forum, the cost of software. I personally don't pay for my own software right now so it doesn't matter to me. But I do understand that these software packages are targeted for a very specialized market. It isn't like we're talking about Quicken or Microsoft Word. The market for this product is limited, but we, the target market, expect this software to work just as seemlessly and be supported just as well as Quicken or Word or any other mass marketed software out there. The costs to create and maintain this level of quality in a product don't change based on the number of units sold. If they sell a million copies or just 1 the cost is the same. (Now I'm beginning to understand my Cost Accounting classes, maybe my 10 yrs spent at LSU weren't a total waste.) Hopefully you can see where these companies are coming from. They have to cover their fixed costs before they can even think about making a profit.

Before I got into this crazy business I worked in retail for a local store. We needed a new Point of Sale and inventory management program. We were shocked to discover that to purchase just the software for 3 stores would be between $10,000 and 50,000 depending on which program we chose and of course the one we liked best was on the higher end of that range. Specialized software in any industry is expensive. I really don't think that adjusting software is all that expensive. Just my oppinion.
Jim Flynt (Jimflynt)
Posted on Sunday, August 05, 2001 - 1:28 pm:   

David, please tell me where I can find a schedule which will allow me to bill an average of $400.00 per file on a hail storm. We must have been working in two different countries for the past few years.

I'll give up my day job and start tomorrow for a schedule like that.
David P Bennett (Whitey)
Posted on Sunday, August 05, 2001 - 10:19 am:   

I've been way too busy lately and haven't kept up with the forum. Seems an interesting topic on software with a twist towards Met Labs. Lot of excellent input. I agree the some of the Dos programs were and appear simpler to use for estimating. However are industry has and is changing. More and more companies are requireing that loss reports and photos be emailed to them. Some refuse to accept any forms of paper. This reuqires the ability to prepare reports, estimates statement of losses, building valuations, digital photos, scan any necessary documents and compile them into one file and then have the proper software or email service that allows for attachments without zipping the file, so that the carrier can open the attachments.

Not sure this can be accomplised under the DOS programs. Anyway, as for speed, well running any of the programs on a PC with expanded capacities of RAM and speed of at least 128+ ram and 500 MHZ will get you a smooth running program, that completes a full package in short order.

We always have a learning curve and going from DOS to Windows is no exception. I believe those that run DOS programs will live and die by them and those that run Window programs will live and die by them. You have to work with what you are comfortable and confident with. As long as you have the product the customer wants and have the ability to forsee what the customers wants will change to and can respond, your set.

As for pricing, well lets see if a program costs $1,000 a year and without going through all of the reductions of time previously outlined. An average cat adjuster on say a simple hail storm should be able to bill at least $3,000 to 5,000 a day after the first couple of days at the storm. Now using an avg of say 60% retention that would equate to $1,800 to $3,000 a day less say 40% for taxes leaves you $1,080 to $1,800.00 a day net. Seems to me that one day on a storm will pay for the software for that year. Not to mention that this is also a business expense to each of us. (By the way this average was based on 8 claims with an average billing of $400.00, based on most fee schedules running throughout the land). If your on a day rate as some carriers are paying well it will take you longer.

Now expenses on a storm should run maximum $1,000 a week (meals, lodging, gas etc) So now on a storm where your working say 5 1/2 days a week for say 4 weeks. Well you have spent 1 day for the software, 4 days on expenses, that leaves you 17 days for income or somewhere between $18,360 to $30,600 net. Seems that if you are able to land say 16 weeks worth of work you can make enough to live comfortably and enjoy a comfortable living.

Now I know that some storms the expenses run higher and some they run lower and that in some cases you will look at 8 no claims in one day which will generally net a billing of $800.00 to $1,200.00 so we may have to work 32 weeks a year and only take 20 weeks off.

Just food for thought, you can work as little or as much as you want, make as little as you need or as much as you want to build or buy that house or set up your retirement. The choice is yours and the software is yours to choose as well.

Just remember to think about where the electronic industry going in the insurance industry. A lot of carriers are going completely paperless or at least 50% paperless.
Gale Hawkins (Gale)
Posted on Friday, August 03, 2001 - 11:45 am:   

Guys I have had my eyes opened. Four years ago KY removed the requirement that you had to commit a crime involving drugs to be found guilty just the same. I really have a problem with the “Turn three and Walk free” referral program, especially when one of the three is not guilty. I must run but will get back over the weekend.
Ghostbuster (Ghostbuster)
Posted on Thursday, August 02, 2001 - 10:27 pm:   

Yeah...what's all this INTENT stuff? Is it now against some law to buy a can of beans because I might INTEND to break wind & accelerate global warming? Every stinkng one of us has a panoply of household chemicals and hardware that can be configured to create a potentially hazardous or illegal device. For an example, remember Timothy McVeigh? All the ingrediants of that nasty cocktail were bought over the counter. I think it is well nigh for our government to get a grip on its self and recognize it is its own worst enemy.

(The above is editorial commentery and does not necessarily represent the views of this website. Thank you for your indulgence. This entry has absolutely nothing to do with the topic at hand or the Insurance industry. But sometimes ya just gotta rear up on your hind legs and roar a little.)
Kile Anderson (Kileanderson)
Posted on Thursday, August 02, 2001 - 9:36 pm:   

Gale, I just have to ask, how does one go about getting charged with intent to create a meth lab? I'm only asking because I wouldn't want it to happen to me. Just curious.
Gale Hawkins (Gale)
Posted on Thursday, August 02, 2001 - 9:23 pm:   

Well I can see while I was spending my web time and more helping my next door neighbor beat a false “intent to create a Meth lab” charge (she was acquitted yesterday afternoon) I see some have been charged with “creation of crappy adjusting software”. I will be back when I get a month to read all of the charges. :)
Jest lookn
Posted on Tuesday, July 31, 2001 - 10:57 pm:   

Now this is what I call an interesting forum.
Posted on Tuesday, July 31, 2001 - 10:43 pm:   

Oh Ghostbuster!!! You have SUCH a way with words!!!! And such insight into a wee bit o' subtlety.

Consider us "kissed" and "made up"
Ghostbuster (Ghostbuster)
Posted on Tuesday, July 31, 2001 - 5:30 pm:   

Oh, ye fair and genteele flowers of femininity,

Please forgive this most humble servant for the crass overlooking of yon equally special needs. For truly, what's good for the goose is good for the gander. (No, I am not implying you resemble over-size water fowl with sqawking voices and a proclivity to defecate on the windshield of my truck!)

I do sincerely apologize and acknowledge when and if I ever get a lovely assistant, I will ensure you get one of your choice, too. There, let's kiss and make up now...
mark (Olderthendirt)
Posted on Tuesday, July 31, 2001 - 12:11 pm:   

Ghost, you start the company with those benefits, i'll come work for you (but i prefer a 65 impala). There is a bottom line, if you know what your doing, work your butt off, know which vendors are good to work for (an extra 5% adds up) you can make a good buck without holding several degree's. congrats to the guys back in the company fold all the more work for the rest of us. I'm able to feed the family and get a trip or two in each year (vacation that is). I prefer the windows programs to dos, but i've fallen on my head a few times! This is still the best job there is!! at least this year. Now let the winds blow!
Chuck Deaton
Posted on Tuesday, July 31, 2001 - 10:38 am:   

End product, how fast can you produce a complete, acceptable end product? I want to write a fast estimate. I also want a complete finished product.

I understand, result of a brief foray in to programing, that the DDS's and Simsol's of the world have to be paid.

My advise is to learn all, and I mean all, of the features of the software you are using.

Oh by the way, no one has emailed me regarding my offer to "loan" a Disto.

How many of you are using a laser print and a ink jet on the same computer? How many have more than one printer?
Posted on Tuesday, July 31, 2001 - 10:36 am:   


I think that I (and perhaps Linda Asberry and some of our other female adjusters out there?) might prefer the Chippendale dancer type to pull out our ladders. First of all, they wouldn't fall off their 5" heels and we know they'd be able to get that ladder up. And we could enjoy those muscles rippling while they do!!! Keep your cocktail dressed assistant and 5" heels. We female adjusters look to the PRACTICAL side of "adjusting with an assistant"!!!!!

All kidding aside, I, too, loved Xact 5.8. My computer crashed last summer (with 2000 in it) and my back up computer had 5.8. So I got to use it the entire time I worked MN. I do so love 5.8 because you can type in all the commands. I type too quickly for 2000 (for instance when you want a new room you hit add then append. The drop down box comes and you have to wait for the blue "choose" line to land on the one you want either by typing in the command at the top and waiting or by arrowing down - too much time. I can type it in and hit enter faster than the program can run and I run it on a Toshiba Tecra 8100 less than 6 mo old).

But the times they are a changin' and if we don't change with them we can find something else that we like to do. I am very happy with my fee schedule and feel no need to up an estimate. Besides, I am the one they'd follow with a reinspector who would report that I am totalling roofs that are not totals. No one else would get caught, but I assure you that I would. So I call 'em as I see 'em and I find that honesty is the best policy for ME. I can sleep at night. Even the lower fee schedules, after expenses, pay better than waitressing or (sorry Ghostbuster) flipping burgers (UNLESS, like GB you OWN the place). And considering that most corporations require a college degree (I wonder what percentage of CAT adjusters have a college degrees) I would wonder what other field we could go into that would pay well enough to make the OTHER field worth our while? I am sure I'll be blasted for THAT comment, but if there IS something out there that pays well enough then those of us that are unhappy might consider checking into it.

Until then, we deal with the software requirements of the vendor.
Ghostbuster (Ghostbuster)
Posted on Tuesday, July 31, 2001 - 9:32 am:   

Let me get this straight, my Fellow Wizards.

In order to fix the world and all its problems, we need:
1) A fast laptop running a DOS estimating program, (I am an Xactimate 5.8 man, myself).
2) A lovely assistant wearing a chic cocktail dress and 5" spike heels to chauffer, pull & set up the ladder, ring the doorbell, and announce our presence. (Heeerrrre's your ADJUSTER!)
3) A 1967 Ford Fairlane, or 1967 Chevy Malibu, or 1967 Plymouth Belvedere for our trooping car. (If it don't have chrome, it ain't worth having!)
4) And last but not least, about 200 files in the basket waiting for us that won't be pulled and given to someone else.

What else?
Jim Flynt (Jimflynt)
Posted on Tuesday, July 31, 2001 - 9:11 am:   

Tom, do you think that the trend to replace wood shake roofs (or any other repairable item) which could be repaired is caused by adjusters trying to up the fee schedule billing with some of these low fee schedules in order to make a decent living?

Your thoughts please.

It seems to me that when vendors and carriers bid down the fee schedule that adjusters are just going to bid up the estimate! And proportionately at a much greater cost to the carrier; in both overpayment of the claim as well as service billing.

Oh when will the carriers and vendors ever learn?

Carriers are you listening? (It's called getting what you pay for as well as "paying" for what you "git").
Tom Toll (Tom)
Posted on Tuesday, July 31, 2001 - 8:38 am:   

I agree with the majority of commentary about the windows based software. Indeed it was somewhat faster using the DOS based software. The industry demanded that a simpler system be developed for the fledgling adjusters and lo and behold it appeared. Everyone is correct, in that a less than smart person can look good with the current software offered. I feel that windows based software will progress into something we will all like and appreciate. Most know I favor MS/B (DDS) but Simsol has an excellent system as well. I do, however, like the reporting features found in the windows based software, versus DOS software. Reports are done in less time.
After having seen what some adjusters are doing on the wood shake roofs in Denver, it appears software is not the problem. The roofers are declaring total losses to shingles because of puck marks on the shingles, with minimal splits. Wood shingles are easily repaired, versus replacement. It seems more training is needed for some adjusters who like to total roofs that in acutality do not need replacing. If a roof is marginal, I feel the doubt should be given to the insured. We are seeing a lot of shake roofs being replaced that could be repaired, and composition roofs too. Oh well, back to the drawing board.
Jim Flynt (Jimflynt)
Posted on Tuesday, July 31, 2001 - 12:26 am:   

I agree with so much of what David has said.

I will add that the Simsol DOS version and the Xactimate 5.8 DOS versions were and STILL ARE the best estimating programs ever written.

I use both every chance I get and would not trade those 2 estimating programs for all the others even if you GAVE ME ALL THE OTHERS FOR FREE.

David is especially right: Is it progress when an estimating program today takes 2 to 3 times longer to write the exact same estimate as it did 5 or 6 years ago?

Now Monsieur Ghostbuster (practicing French in case we ever have to go back to Montreal), share your thoughts s'il vous plait.

Merci beaucoup Monsieur Dye.
David G. Dye (David_Dye)
Posted on Tuesday, July 31, 2001 - 12:00 am:   

Guys and Gals,

I never want to go back to the days of hand writing estimates and running tape after tape after tape, trying to get one to come out.

There are many programs on the market. Some are trash, some are pasable, some are (ho hum, mediocre). no offence (John, Gale et al), the best are sadly lacking for a professional. You all have taken a basically simple process for a knowledgeable person and tried and succeeded into making it a process for an idiot, that with a very little knowledge can get by with. (Last week I were an...,this week I R an adjuster...)

Again, I never want to go back to the days of handwriting scopes. But there is a problem, when an estimate/scope I could have inputed (five years ago)in one hour, now takes two-three hours.

Is this progress - I Don't Think So.

Thank God, I don't have to pay for the programs we are forced to use today. You want my vote - don't mean to PO anyone, but go back to the DOS vesion of Simsol (John-love the program) haven't worked for anybody in over six (6) years that would let me choose thr program I use.

Cest la vie - my two cents worth. Ideas and opnions like as.holes....everyone has one.
Ghostbuster (Ghostbuster)
Posted on Monday, July 30, 2001 - 5:23 pm:   

Good point there, Massa Flynt.

Many of us 'dinosuars' out here would indeed have a hard time explaining the rationale for those little things we have done automatically for lo these many eons.

However, of those warm bodies shaken out of the tree from the last years drought, such as our pal, John Mc Mennamee, who hopped on the Big FIG train, do you think many have climbed back into the branches of storm trooping? I would be interested to get some idea of a percentage that are not coming back. Whether they can afford the cost of the software and stuff or not.
Jim Flynt (Jimflynt)
Posted on Monday, July 30, 2001 - 4:23 pm:   

Actually my good friend Ghostbuster, it is the software which is not only not weeding them out but bringing them in.

No, I do not long for the "good old days" (except that the money was better relatively speaking) but I do know that if many of the so called adjusters out there today had to write an estimate by hand, they wouldn't know where to begin. God forbid the day if the Chinese ever launch a virus which wipes out all computers for a month or so. I have no idea what the majority of cat adjusters and carriers would ever do.

When we have software where any "warm body" can just point the mouse at a photo of a wall to write an estimate, we are all in deeper trouble than anyone realizes.

And the problem out there today is that there are too many warm bodies and not enough qualified knowledgeable experienced cat adjusters.
Ghostbuster (Ghostbuster)
Posted on Monday, July 30, 2001 - 3:48 pm:   

Or, howza 'bout from this angle...The cost of the software, and hardware, and cell phones, and etc, etc, etc, are all part and parcel of being in this crazy game. This is a brave new world with no place in it for the old days when school teachers and shoe salesmen and bag boys could duck in and out to make a years salary during summer vacation.

Life is damned expensive these days and so is the cost of our REQUIRED kit & kaboodle. Do we like it? Do we long for the old days when a clip board, a pocket calculator, and a wooden stapleton ladder in the trunk of a Ford Fairlane was all we needed? Well, to be rather crass, that was then and this is now. On the positive side, it is a way to weed out the part-timers.
Linda Asberry (Linda)
Posted on Monday, July 30, 2001 - 6:46 am:   

While everyone has very valid points, consider that estimating software is not sold by the millions as some of the programs are. You can travel to different locales and obtain the appropriate price list for any particular area This is not at a small production price for the software vendor and not a feature of most of the ware we purchase generally.

We demand very specific features in small quantities in comparison. I have no idea at what point, i.e., quanity sold, that the vendor begins of even thinking of profits but I suspect their profit margin is much less than that of others due to the simple math of units sold compared to the cost of production.

Anyone ever consider we are fortunate to have the number of choices of software vendors we do have and the easy access we have to them. We can pick up the phone and call any of them and in all probability speak with someone we have met personally and get instant answers to our questions. We are a very select group of users and I feel we more than get our money's worth for the time and effort saved. We all wish for the best of all worlds but in the business world we operate in, it is just simply not possible.
Jim Flynt (Jimflynt)
Posted on Sunday, July 29, 2001 - 11:45 pm:   

I appreciate the technology of today's modern estimating programs as much as anyone and the resulting efficiency they allow in handling claims.

But I do agree with some of the posters that the costs seem exorbitant. I guess I am bothered that I can buy most other software as a one time cost and then upgrade at my option when a newer version comes out.

The argument that estimating software can easily be paid for by working one or two or three days is one which is seductive but doesn't follow to a more rational nor accurate conclusion. Perhaps there is another way to look at this more accurately to measure the "real cost." Let me explain:

The national press informs us that National Tax Freedom day is now May 3 of each year. That happens to be the 123rd day of each year. What that means is this: until May 3 of each year, any income earned by the average American goes to pay Federal, State, Local and Municipal taxes. After May 3, your earnings can then be applied to your other living costs and disposable needs.

That now leaves us with 365-123=242 days left to earn enough to pay our other obligations and then have some left over for savings or disposable income for our families.

Now suppose that someone does not want to work on the Sabbath day (and I for one, don't and won't), that would then reduce our effective earning days down to 190 days.

Now I know there will be some macho adjusters who really don't mind not ever taking a day off or spending any time with their loved ones, so for them my example and conclusion may not work.

Suppose that the average adjuster wants two weeks of vacation per year plus an additional 5 days allowance for sick days and another 7 days for what I will call "family days" and we are now down to 178 days.

Now assuming hotel expenses of $1,500.00 per month and that it takes two days per month to pay the hotel bill. Perhaps we should add one more day per month for food and another for gas, film, extras, for time on the road. Calculations obviously require whatever assumption one makes about how many months per year they can/will work.

Now that could more or less cover our "road expenses" but hey, we haven't included earning power days for computer hardware upgrades, printer purchases, camera upgrades, other software, health and life and disability insurance.

Nor does it include any allowances for all those classes and certifications that vendors and carriers can't seem to demand enough of us attending (and at our own not inexpensive costs).

When we complete that calculation, we could then move on to calculating how many working days we would have to work in order to earn enough to pay our fixed expenses back at home: mortgages, property taxes, property insurance, family food bill, depreciation on furniture and appliances, maintenance, as well as vehicle costs such as highway tolls, upgrades and tires, oil, batteries, auto payments, vehicle taxes and of course depreciation.

Finally when we have now adjusted the earning power days left, we can now move on to consideration of incidentals such as dental and medical reguar checkups, children's school and education needs, and family clothing allowance.

Anything left after this of course is yours to blow, invest, spend or otherwise do with as you please.

Perhaps if everyone would sit down and plug in their own set of expenses, then offest that with their "average" daily income for the past three years, they might have a different point of view of how very expensive estimating software is to cat adjusters,

Just some food for thought. But you better add things up before you run out of time, and hence money!

When the average adjuster adds up the realistic number of days required just to make ends meet with fixed expenses both on the road and back at home, all of a sudden having to set aside two or three days of earning power just to pay for estimating software leases or purchases at today's costs, it seems, to me at least, is way out of line.
Tom Toll (Tom)
Posted on Sunday, July 29, 2001 - 10:44 pm:   

If you cannot pay for an estimating program in three working days, then you probably need to start hand writing your estimates to save the software expense. Obviously you have few claims to handle or you do not know how to handle claims. These sofware packages are one of a kind and are well worth the money invested. The disto tool pays for itself in short order, and is a very useful tool, not a play pretty. Seems none of us are satisfied with the tools we use that make us money. I for one, nor my wife, will gripe about products that help earn our living in shorter order.
Posted on Sunday, July 29, 2001 - 10:37 pm:   

I don't think you can put them all in the same basket. Last year I didn't mind paying DDS their fee but then turned around and NCA was charging adjusters $100 a month for the old DOS Boeckh software, even if you only worked one claim that month, They said they had to pay it to Boeckh but when I asked Boeckh about it they said they didn't know anything about it. Yea, honest vendors, sure, right. we pay them 40% of what we earn for them to broker us and then they want to steal from us on top of it by charging us for an old DOS program that the software company doesn't even support anymore. So, some is worth it and some ain't. Know before ya go!
John McMennamy
Posted on Sunday, July 29, 2001 - 8:46 pm:   

I agree with most of what has been stated. All have brought up some really good points the best being good tools. If you you but a lazer measurer for what ever price and it saves time scoping a claim, it's money well spent. If hand write a claim that is not legable and it takes you 2 hours to write and another 2 hours to rewriite it. Money spent on a program that takes 30 to 60 minutes to write the claim and someone can read it, thats money well spent.
If you work your tail off on a storm and have no bennifits( insurance, vacation, retirement or mileage for those claims that are 70 to 80 miles one way) and can't get a vender to call you back when you need something, while paying them 40% so they can pay a core team while you set home. Whats wrong with this picture? Something that saves you time and makes you money by helping you close more claims that cost a thousand dollars or something that cost you thousands of dollars that you have no say in.
I'm not slamming venders. NCA, Ebrels, Pilot and Renfro are great companies and have some great people that I have met. What I am saying is a part time employee should not have to pay to keep a full time employee working, they should have to pay their own way.
Every estimating program I used when cat adjusting saved me hours upon hours of work. One thousand dollars is cheap for the time it saved and the money it made me. Now that I'm a staff adjuster, the company pays for the program and it's still saving me time. Is this a great world or what. Thanks for the grograms and keep up the good work guys.
This is just my oppinion and thoughts.
Work safe and have a great day.
Johnny Mac
Gale Hawkins (Gale)
Posted on Saturday, July 28, 2001 - 3:19 pm:   

Like John I am learning from this thread about what you think but have not been able to post due to a non work related issue that has eaten my lunch this week and will eat part of next week. I do agree it is all about value and not price by the way.

In talking with a few of you this week I have learned that my neighbor’s problem with the law and legal system is not all that uncommon. Since I have been hovering over the PowerClaim project for 60 – 80 hours a week and more of the later for the past 5 years I have just kind of let changes in the laws and law enforcement go unnoticed.

In Kentucky if you joke (not smart but it does happen) about meth production to someone that has just been busted in their own meth lab and the detective is taping it you will be raided. If they find certain items on your property even if they are in different buildings a mile apart you can be charged with meth production. A wooden spoon in the kitchen and carburetor cleaner in the shop means you are looking a 20 years of low-income employment at the place appointed by the state if you can not prove you were not THINKING about starting up a meth lab.

Folks I have no time for drugs or the ones that create them, especially next door but it gets scarily at the power of the law to take the word of a man in cuffs to make life hell for hard working tax payers that are not guilty as charged.

Well after Wednesday I will take the time to join this discussion on software cost. In the mean time try to find out all you can about the people your friends and family members know from work because they can affect YOUR life as well as those of your friends and family members when those individuals go down committing crimes and are looking a bone to throw the law.
Posted on Friday, July 27, 2001 - 8:04 am:   

I am enjoying listening to all replies on this thread. More and more, many of our carriers large and small are asking us to come up with ways to warehouse and data mine their claim and estimate information. As the developers of these systems put in-place data storage and mining websites, many carriers will demand that all adjusters and contractors use whatever program or programs link to that storage facility. Xactware has been doing it for years and we go on-line in less than 30 days.

As Gale and I have spoken about in the past, an "open" standard for estimate data transmission would be nice because then adjusters could use any program they wanted so long as its data could be captured by the carrier so they can do their "number crunching" from the data warehouse. Maybe all the developers of these systems (there are only really 4 or 5 and we all know who they are) can get together and develop a set of standards - I don't know (although I am willing to sit down and talk).

No doubt adjusters of the future will be fluent in all estimating systems, large and small. The more programs you know, the more companies you can work for and the more work you will get to handle. Bottom Line - you make more money.

Many years ago a successful businessman told me as I was starting out, "John", he said, "it's not what something costs you that should concern you, it's how much it will make for you that's important." I've always remembered that and it has served me well in my 45 years on this planet. First, as an adjuster I always surrounded myself with the best equipment and tools to do my job. If a new device made my inspections better or saved me 10 minutes at the loss site or in front of the computer - I bought it! I was always better served by doing so. Now, as a computer geek, I still follow that advice.

No one program will work for everyone. Enjoy the one you like the best and "put up" with the strenghs and weaknesses of the others.

Adjust' 'til ya' bust...

John P.
Don Mathews
Posted on Thursday, July 26, 2001 - 10:20 pm:   

John, I would like to say that I salute you and the other developers of software programs and the due dilligents that it takes to keep up with the ever changing prices for labor, materials etc. Even though I do not use your program, I still beleive that it takes all of the developers to keep a hand on these always changes for the adjusters in the field. I do not have a problem telling you I use Powerclaim and am very confortable with it. From Commercial to personal property it, as all the others have, give me what I am after. A program that I can work anything with and do it with confidence in that program. I was introduced to Powerclaim by a local Ind. Adjuster here in Odessa and have looked at others but feel like I have what I need. We all know that some companies (Adjuster) request that you use certain programs or no work, well, I see their point in one way but then again, when an Ind. Adj. is use to using one certain program and turns out top line reports then I see problems down the road. You guys just keep up the great work in providing these programs and let the chips fall in who's pocket's they may.
mike stephenson (Photoadjuster)
Posted on Thursday, July 26, 2001 - 7:38 pm:   

Let me see if I got this right. Complaining about software that costs you one or two days pay, but you use it all year. What am I missing?

Mike Stephenson
Posted on Tuesday, July 24, 2001 - 1:19 pm:   

I am kind of new to this field, but am very high on technology. I have looked at three or 4 different packages. All have been good, but none seem real different from the others. They have ranged from about 500.00 to 1000.00 a year. When you get to the 1000 packages you seem to get a little more for your money.

Here is my theory and again I am somewhat new, if you pay the money for the right tools to use in the field then it will pay for itself really fast.

It would be like a carpenter not having a hammer.

Does anyone agree with me?
Jim Lakes
Posted on Tuesday, July 24, 2001 - 9:43 am:   


Thanks for taking the time to enlighten many of us. Those who have not been in business before have no comprehension of the many outlays that businesses have to pay. One of the best ways that I could relate this issue is that for every employee I had, it cost me 23% of their salary, just to have them working for me. This amount did not include hospitalization or retirement, plus this was back in the early 80’s. It is probably closer to 32% now.

Sometimes we as Cat adjusters do not realize these facts because we are INDEPENDENT ADJUSTERS and do not have to deal with these things.

One thing that should be considered by all of us is, with the number of companies out there that are providing this software, if it were feasible to lower the price considerably to the adjusters, to get the business, I’m sure they would, just to take it away from their competitors. However, we all know you are in the business to make money and if you don’t make money, you are out of business. This is true of all software companies that provide us with our tools to, MAKE MONEY.

Jim Lakes
National Catastrophe Director
RAC Adjustments, Inc.
John A. Postava (Johnp)
Posted on Monday, July 23, 2001 - 9:44 pm:   

Recently I read a post that talked about boycotting all estimating softwares because someone felt the price of the software (about $1,000.00 a year for the top-of-the-line softwares) was too high. I've also been monitoring the "poll" of surfers who have overwhelmingly stated that estimating software costs too much. IMHO, I would like to rebutt...

For those adjusters out there that remember handwriting estimates until your hands could not hold a pen or when you wore yourselves out using a Canon PC-10 digital calculator trying to get the ACV of your loss to match the RCV column of your estimate minus the depreciation column, computer estimating is well worth its cost.

I invite anyone that finds themselves in the Central Florida area to stop by our company and see what it takes to build an insurance adjusting software that is stable (i.e. WORKS) has a full time staff of tech supports, is continually being tested in every and any new operating system Bill Gates cares to release and keeps up-to-date with current construction costs and adjusting forms, reports and techniques (not-to-mention changes is electronic technology).

I began my career as a property adjuster. Got lucky enough to find the cat adjuster profession and spend almost 20 years as a full time cat adjuster. If I thought for ONE SECOND that I could offer our firm's software for $1.00 dollar less and still provide the products and services our customers have come to expect - I WOULD. It is truly INCREDIBLE what it cost to pay programmers, tech supports, health insurance, rent. travel, phones, workman's comp, Fed-ex, blah, blah, blah...

For those of you that still believe that the cost of software is to high.....What is the wall square footage of a room 10' x 16' x 10' when you are replacing the first 4' of drywall?

If it took you more than 5 seconds to come up with 208 SF, you are definitely out of practice if you had to go back to handwriting estimates and rely on a computer to get you through the day.

Property adjusting is one of the few professions I know of that require that you only own one piece of software to handle your entire claim file(including the standard MS OFFFICE suite of products).

My gang at SIMSOL and myself work very hard to make our product what it is. I am sure the other vendors also make the same efforts to make their systems the best that they can be. It all comes down to what YOU and your companies prefer to use. Adjusters demand products that WORK, support that ANSWERS THE PHONE, and whose program and construction cost updates STAY CURRENT WITH THE INDUSTRY. All of that costs money in both brainpower and manpower.

We've been around for 15 years come this October I'm proud of that. We grew primarily by word-of-mouth - I'm proud of that. We have a user base well into the thousands of users. It takes a great deal of resources to service that many users. Maybe to some of you $1,000 a year seems on the surface to be too high a cost to pay. The next time you are in Orlando, Florida, stop by and I will give you the "nickel tour" of how-we-do-what-we-do. After that, you may think differently about the cost of software that is professionally developed, maintained and supported by some of the best folks in the world...IMHO


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