, Resources for Adjusters from Adjusters
Proper Claim File Techniques | Archive Index |

The Adjuster's Forum » General Discussion » Proper Claim File Techniques « Site Map »
Topics | Home | Current Forum | Jobs, Training and more | Adjuster Roster | Channels | Resources | Contact Us

Author Message
Jim Lakes
Posted on Sunday, November 11, 2001 - 1:00 pm:   

Clayton, Ghost, Kile and All,

I love this type conversation. I believe that we must point out our own faults and then find solutions to those faults.

Clayton, I think, again, you have nailed many of our problems. I think many of us knew what many of the problems were, but did not want to admit to them. I especially agree with you on number (11). I feel that this is the exact reason for some of the problems that we have all referenced.

I guess the “BIG QUESTION,” is how do we address these issues and correct or change the trend, in the direction that we are heading?

Ghost, you gave a very good example of how things are in this and many other businesses and life. I relate to this day. Veterans Day. I can relate to the many who gave their lives or without the slightest regard for their own lives, completed an act of heroism, and on this day, many will not even take the time to recognize that act that helped establish their existence of freedom.

Clayton, I would be interested in hearing what you feel are some of the solutions to the problems or “whys” that you have so very well set forth. I would like to hear from some of the others that are reading this thread and could also contribute to the solutions.

Jim Lakes RPA
National Catastrophe Director
RAC Adjustments, Inc.
Kile Anderson (Kileanderson)
Posted on Sunday, November 11, 2001 - 11:47 am:   

Ghost, I'm sure, old ladies being what they are (God love'em),she will tell everyone she sees about the nice man from the insurance company. Friends and family will be forever indebted to the nice insurance company who does such wonderful things for a little old lady in need. They will purchase future policies from company with this warm little story in the back of their minds and all the time think it is the wonderful company that was so nice. Meanwhile the adjuster who gave so selflessly of his own time, probably because he thought about his own grandmother and wished someone had been so nice to her, will go on without recognition, but he will sleep the sleep of the innocent, because of his wonderful act of generosity. I think this story makes a wonderful point. The majority of the people in this industry don't do this to get rich. We do it because we want to help people and I believe in a world where money didn't matter, most of us would still spend our time helping others. Don't worry, our industry will survive and we will go on helping others.
Ghostbuster (Ghostbuster)
Posted on Sunday, November 11, 2001 - 11:19 am:   

With great respect, I gotta say, Clayton, your as much of a tradionalist as I am. The only diference is your flavored with Canadian marmalade and I am soaked with Texas chili.

Yes, our Profession is not treated as a profession much less respected for the constant good deeds we DAILY perform. As an example, a TRUE STORY. Yesterday, my very good friend, a staff telephone adjuster at the Big FIG gets a call from the emergency call center. Mind you it is not part of his job description to be on call, they simply cannot get anyone else to pick up the phone. (Thank God for caller ID.)

A poor, 90 year old woman Insured has a tree on her roof and is frantic. Our hero goes out and sees that the loss is under the deductible. What does he do? Here is what he does...

At 2:30 on a Saturday afternoon, he goes back home, gets his chainsaw, some left over roofing shingles, tools, the lawn mower and heads back in his truck. He removes the tree from the roof, spot repairs the roof, then, because the grass is over a foot tall due to her not being able to afford having the lawn mowed, spends about two hours cutting the front grass, a nibble at a time.

This is the kind of selfless, Good Deed that all of us do on a regular basis. With this one act alone, he has earned a comfortable chair in Heaven, not to mention all the other heroic feats of the past 40 years in claims. But, does this one act matter in the slightest to the morons in the Home Office? How has it affected the P/L statement and
all the other contrived machinations of the upper mangement? Not one bit. And, since the 90 year old Insured, can not write a letter, no one but us will ever know.

This is what makes us the true professionals. No one else in the industry does this, only Adjusters. For our function to be denigrated by being made mere high speed check writers is a omen that the insurance industry is commiting financial suicide. Those senior members of the trade that have left the firms recognized the trend and bailed out.

But, we tradionalists stay at our posts and with our fingers plugging the holes. We are a stubborn bunch.
Clayton Carr (Clayton)
Posted on Sunday, November 11, 2001 - 1:14 am:   

This is a continuation of the previous post, which contained (14) "whys" that may be causing the decline of the claims industry.

(15) Vendors (IA firms), have and are diversifying themselves to become known as some form of "global third party claims management administrators". Whereas, the cat adjusting community has done little or nothing to meaningfully consider other niches in the claims environment.

(16) Insurer claims "personnel" have no need to be licenced and hence are not adjudicated regarding their knowledge and skills. Whereas, an independent adjuster has such requirements to judge their knowledge and skills. A "cat adjuster" - yes - needs to be licenced wherever they offer their services; but there is no definition or uniquely defined model of what special knowledge or skills a "cat adjuster" brings to a claim, nor any accreditation for what they may offer as a source of value added benefit to the claims environment they enter. Merely sitting for a day at an NFIP "course", or completing the FWUA CD, or taking quizzes from a carrier - do not give accreditation to a "cat adjuster".

(17) Insurers have enmass incorporated the concept and model of the "preferred vendor", be it a contractor, bodyshop, IA firm, retailer, etc. We as independent contractor adjusters offering our services for "cat claims" have done nothing or little to consider or create our place within this model.

(18) The "cat adjusting community" at times has exhibited the notion, that we are the only ones capable of handling "cat claims". We have failed to recognize or react to the fact that insurers have their own and newer notion of how "cat claims" are sometimes defined, and sometimes dealt with.

(19) Who are the customers of the cat community? Are they the vendors we name and then are critical of, or regularly "gut shoot" as one member has stated? A "Hall of Fame" would serve the same, but perhaps send a more professional message. Have we failed to recognize the shifting sands of where our work is coming from? Have we not failed to react to the trends of the industry and carve ourselves a newly defined niche in it?

(20) We in the cat community can ask - like the farmers of the continent do regarding why their land, seed, machinery, etc. is constantly rising in costs, while the results of their efforts - their produce - diminishes in value at the farm gate. We can ask why the value of what we do is declining, but perhaps we are in a worse peril than the farmer. people have to eat and there is very limited methods of producing grain for bread or meat for the BBQ. However, have we not failed to recognize that insurers and vendors have through their own actions developed other "ways" to deal with their claims? Is this not one principal cause of why the perception of the "traditional" value of the "cat adjuster" has declined?

People, this is all geared to make you think. It is not aimed at you but directed to our community and our industry.
Clayton Carr (Clayton)
Posted on Sunday, November 11, 2001 - 12:40 am:   

In previous posts on this thread I took a walk through history to outline some of the major "whys" this claims industry is in a downward spiral. This led to others bringing forth other "whys", both directly and indirectly. Here is a summary, as I see it. Whenever "we" or "our" is used I infer the whole industry, all within a carrier, vendor, or our cat community - but in a generic sense. I am not pointing fingers at any specific corporate entity or any individual within the industry. This summary is to capture the identified or suggested pitfalls I think exist, so they can be commented on by others; and so they can be grouped for consideration of any possible solutions.

(1) Claims are too often processed, not adjusted. There is too great an emphasis on the rate of closed files versus their adjustment content. This results in a reduction of the quality of the work product. Quality counts, and it is critical. Quality is not measured by the amount of saved claim dollars, but is measured in the proper and consistent handling of each and every claim. Alice, on Nov.10th @9.56AM, gave us a good and very typical claims scenario. Yes, it shows the pitfalls of telephone adjust versus field adjust - but reflect on it within the concept of quality.

(2) "Bedside manner", the way in which we deal with the insured public, lacks the recognition of possible trauma, and lacks the utilization and presence of empathy and emotion.

(3) We look at the tasks of the job, as the job; and fail to consistently recognize that the "job" is the appropriate professional delivery of service to an insured.

(4) We loose sight of who our customers are, and where we fit into the distribution chain; as a service provider to the insurance industry.

(5) We fail to consistently recognize the expectations of the public we deal with.

(6) We fail to acknowledge that we are working within an industry where "adjusting" is perceived as a profession. Too often we look at the technical tasks as a manual labor function, or the work of a tradesperson; which too often results in our demeanour, appearance, and communication styles falling below a perception of how a professional should conduct their business affairs.

(7) Too aften, we as some form of defined or undefined "adjuster", handle a claim without the appropriate knowledge, training, or experience.

(8) We do not communicate the "process" of how a "claim" will unfold, properly or thoroughly to an insured.

(9) We lack consistency as an entity or group within our niche in the industry, in the tangible delivery methods and techniques utilized to fullfil our function; creating a sense of "us and them" and resulting in a perception by the public of varying levels of service being provided.

(10) Insurers in an effort to diversify their product base and increase their client count, have embraced the economic model of a financial services provider. A major detrimental effect of this on "adjusters" is the turn from profit being derived from revenue (underwriting) to it being expressed as a "return on investment" or equity.

(11) There is no longer the depth of knowledge or experience found in "senior" or management claims personnel that existed 15 or 20 years ago. This has resulted in a serious erosion of a valuable resource base.

(12) There is no consistency in the evaluation process of "adjusters", whether it be at the time of "employment", or follwoing the execution of our services.

(13) "Claims" have evolved into "units of cost". The financial services economic model has resulted in claims being seconded to a "cost of doing business".

(14) Upper management personnel of insurers have a reduced concept or awareness of factors that contribute to loss expense - weather, geography, and the specific type / class of insured "property". With a generally prevailing belief that there is a measured cost (claims) to their revenue (underwriting), little regard or understanding is held for the proper adjudication of the appropriate claims dollar to be paid. This has been brought about by the reduction in the numbers of senior people at the "inner circle" having had a claims career path.

** continued on next post **
Posted on Saturday, November 10, 2001 - 2:06 pm:   

Chuck, excellent post that goes for professionals in ANY industry.

Keywords and phrases: Talented, hardworking , small business people who take care of business, providing quality, regularly succeeding, don't air dirty laundry, and adapt or perish.

Words to live by.
Posted on Saturday, November 10, 2001 - 9:56 am:   

Several months ago one of the Big 3 found that the overpayment rate by Preferred Vendors was around, I know this sounds excessive, but I think it was 30%. Even if were 10% that is still excessive when you add the numbers. The vendor program was immediately dumped.

They will all figure it out eventually when their bean counters start reviewing the files. Will it help us? Who knows. They might have a another ridiculous plan up their sleeves (phone handling? Sure - I had 108LF of stockade fence blown down and that bordered a street and another 96LF of stockade fence blown down that bordered an open field - fence is only 2 years old so depreciated 10% and check cut for $3422 after $250 ded applied. Reinspection shows half that on each side and both were common. Insured couldn't come up w/receipts showing fence purchase and turns out the company paid for this same fence 4 yrs ago). The only way to adjust a claim is to ADJUST a claim. That's what adjusters are for. The claims savings, by paying as Jim Lakes said "a dollar where a dollar is due", would be significant. Yes, the companies can recoup excessive claims payments through premium increases, but the public (let's look at TX and CA) will only stand for so much before screaming to the DOI who will get involved. I wonder how much adjusting experience the head of any given DOI might have.
Ghostbuster (Ghostbuster)
Posted on Friday, November 09, 2001 - 7:44 pm:   

Good post, Mr Lake. BUT!!! Like you, me, and baby makes three all know, claims expense can not be used to set rates like claims cost. Our piddle-squat fee bills comes straight out of the carrier execs bonus checks. UNTIL!!! this absurd accounting rule is changed, our little bird nests will continue to be kicked apart.

Does the concept of quality count for anything? Does it really matter how much we save on claims cost thru our sterling efforts when they are going to recoup the gross overpayment on the next rate increase? Being a traditionalist, I'd like to think so, but I think I'd be wrong.

And what adds insult to injury, our bird nests are being kicked apart by the very souls that we have valiantly strove to keep in line all these years, the contractors and body shops.
Chuck Deaton
Posted on Friday, November 09, 2001 - 4:17 pm:   

Just a comment from a workin' adjuster.

Not all of us are in trouble. I am not and neither are any of my close associates. In fact everybody I know is working. All of my close associates are better off then they have ever been. I can see 10 working adjusters from where I am sitting and there will be 20 here next week.

We are talented, hardworking folks who work for companies and vendors who are regularly gut shot on this site. We succeed because we are small business people who take care of business, reqularly succeeding at tasks that most people would judge impossible, providing quality and helping everyone who asks. We have the small problems common to all small businessmen. We do not air our dirty laundry in public.

Change is and always has been a part of this business. Either adapt or perish.

Where I come from it's, "root hawg or die."
Jim Lakes
Posted on Friday, November 09, 2001 - 10:56 am:   


I agree with Jim Flynt 100%. I think you have nailed many of the reasons that we are all in trouble.

There are a few more that I have stated and will do so again. It doesn’t seem to sink in and no one wants to step up to the plate with this one.

It is “QUALITY.” Now what do I mean by this. I mean that the quality of the product that is put out today by many “VENDORS” has forced the carriers to use other means of settling their claims. IE: Preferred Contractors, larger limits of telephone claims settlements. I know of companies that now pay up to $5,000.00 over the telephone. However, I do not think that telephone adjusters are near the threat that Preferred Contractors are. I can’t for the life of me understand why people don’t understand this.

There are clients out there that NOW use “Preferred Contractors” to handle their claims. Why? Because it does not cost them a claims expense. It may cost them in claims severity, but that can be recouped the loss by a premium increase. As you and I have both stated, they cannot recoup their claims expense through an increase. What we as vendors and adjusters do not realize is that we have no way of keeping track of the numbers of claims that are handled by them. This is lost revenue and lost claims for adjusters. Even if it is 10%, think about it. If we have about 4,000 independent adjusters, 400 of you have just lost your job because of the claims they handle. Many will say that they do not handle that many claims. I know it for a fact that they do. On smaller storms, they handle more than that for some carriers.

So, you ask yourself, what does “Quality” have to do with it? If we provided them with a product that justified the expense they would not be as inclined to use contractors to do our job. We have to be able to save them enough on the claims pay out to justify our fee bill. I am not saying we short the insured. We simply pay a dollar where a dollar is due. Example: You all know that on to many hail storms that many roofs are replaced that are worn out and simply not damaged by the hail. I am saying that we must use our experience, education, knowledge and ADJUSTER skills to obtain this goal. We must handle each and every claim like it is the only claim we have and that our pay depends upon the quality of handling that claim.

So you then say to your self, “I cannot provide the quality, because the fee schedules are so low I have to work to many claims to make a decent pay.” This also is a true statement in many cases. This is brought about by vendors willing to cut their fee schedules to the carriers to compete, make more money, and do a volume of claims. However and most importantly, if adjusters would refuse to work the unfair schedules knowing they cannot provide a quality product at those prices, we may not stop our own destruction but we could surly slow it down.

But then, many will say that many carriers do not care about the quality, they want the claims closed. This is true to some extent, however, they also want the quality because quality to them is dollars and cents, and what is this all about, DOLLARS. Just as Clayton has said.

I will add some other thoughts later because this like many topics and problems do not and cannot be answered with one solution, it has many parts and added becomes the solution.

Jim Lakes RPA
National Catastrophe Director
RAC Adjustments, Inc.
Roy Cupps (Admin)
Posted on Friday, November 09, 2001 - 1:12 am:   

I agree Clayton and I removed posts.
Clayton Carr
Posted on Friday, November 09, 2001 - 12:44 am:   

There have been 8 posts on this thread, starting with the noted time of 10.00PM on 11/8 to 12.13AM on 11/9; that I just don't understand.

I've avoided this web site a number of times in the past year for varying periods of days or weeks, because I was dismayed by the "headbashing" that went beyond what could be considered normal decency; but at least the people had something to say - albeit terse.

But these 8 posts I refer to - what is that all about? Having free time does not infer it is time to waste. Are these 8 posts not gibberish?

Somebody create a new thread for people who want to limit their input to that sort of thing.

I'll stand at the top of the hill to defend free speech for anyone, but please - why do we tolerate that sort of nothingness?

This is supposed to be a professional web site forum for professionals in the cat adjusting community. Those 8 posts do nothing to enhance our image or the perception of our professionalism.
Jim Flynt (Jimflynt)
Posted on Thursday, November 08, 2001 - 9:39 pm:   

Clayton, your 3 part answer to my question is without a doubt the most outstanding post I have ever seen or read here on CADO.

I look forward to your further comments regarding solutions and possible solutions to the problems on both the staff and IA sides.

We all would be especially well served if you will also continue with your comments regarding why you think the future of cat adjusting may be limited to only the next two years without major course changes in direction. (I don't disagree with you at all, but look forward to seeing if we share the same thinking as to why).

You have, with your answer, now posted a new subject (Will Cat Adjusting Be DEAD Within 2 Years As We Know It?) worthy of it's own thread (which I have taken the liberty of setting up elsewhere on this Forum), and one which CADO adjusters would be well advised to take seriously and to which they should pay grave attention.

I further recommend that you consider submitting your 3 part answer to Claims Magazine for their consideration for national publication.

I am absolutely beyond amazement with your on the money perceptions and on the mark accuracy in how we got to where we are today. It should result in the fullest and longest term discussion we have ever encountered or seen here on CADO for one thread or topic.
Kile Anderson (Kileanderson)
Posted on Thursday, November 08, 2001 - 6:13 pm:   


Thanks for sharing your methods with everyone. I wish I were as lucky as you are to be able to multitask. My own brain seems to work like a tunnel. I have to get from point A to point B before I can move on. I think I'm pretty organized but I still don't do so well switching from one claim to another in mid stream. I guess I'm lucky to do most of my work for a carrier that lets us settle in the field when practical. It really helps me keep things straight. I do understand, and it has been my experience, that on large claims that isn't possible.

You mentioned in your post that you often meet with contractors at the claim. I've only done this on a few occasions and it hasn't been pleasant. Most of the time, I find that the contractor has over scoped the loss and we have to go back and re-measure everything to find out that my original measurements were right and the contractor has waisted an hour of my time. I really try to keep an open mind and not treat the contractor as an adversary, but they quite often come into the situation with the assumption that I'm trying to gip the insured and many of them don't understand that I'm just there to scope the loss, I don't set the prices. I tell them that if they have proof that my prices are wrong, by all means, let me have it and I will talk to the pricing specialist. How does everyone handle contractors? In my experience, the local guys are usually pretty easy to work with, it's the fly by night guys that always seem to want to argue every detail. (Alcove, Dr. Roof) I'd say approx. 20% of the time I deal with a contractor it is a pleasant experience, 30% it is just neutral and just business, but 50% of the time it is way more hassle than is necessary. What has everyone else experienced in this area?
Posted on Thursday, November 08, 2001 - 4:57 pm:   


I do not, nor do I personally know, anyone who writes their estimates in the car and leaves them with the insured. I know some companies require that, however, I am working for one that likes much more control over the IA work product. I use digital for photos and I do not like mounting my photos without attaching my Zip Drive (CD) to save the pictures to once I have them mounted. Sure I could save them in the field and then transfer them when I get back, but that takes extra time and time is money.

The types of claims that I handle do not lend themselves to a quick estimate in the car. I can spend 2 hrs scoping a "mid" water or fire loss with a contractor. That translates into many hours of writing a detailed estimate. If there is no contractor then the "walk" takes longer as we usually team up while one measures and one writes as we agree on the scope. My scope sheets are self carboning so I can give the contrator one when "we" are through as it is his/hers as well as my work product. And I am not necessarily talking about a contractor I call to meet me at the loss. More than 50% of the time the insureds already have a contractor lined up and we meet to get an agreed scope.

ALL of this is subject to company approval. I might also have to call an asbestos testing company as well as an asbestos remediation contractor for a bid if the asbestos test is positive. If it is a fire I must have a Cause and Origin investigation to determine if subrogation is possible. Then we have ALE and content issues. I have to juggle the files for more than a few days (usually a few weeks).

I am working branch assist right now. However, on a storm the closing of the file in the field, with the understanding that the company reserves the right to approve the estimate, would certainly work out well. As I said before, I know there are companies that require it so it certainly must have its merits. And it obviously works very well for you. But I am with Mark on the pictures and paperwork. I like to get up very very early and do paperwork and stay out all day scoping. I return my calls and set new appts for new files in the evening. And I get a pretty good night's sleep, too. I can handle several things going on at one time and I can run a pending (using a diary system) that is larger than most adjusters I know. That is ONLY because I have been doing this type of work for over 25 years and I have learned a little from everyone I have talked to (sometimes it's how I will NOT handle something, but that is just as valuable)and I have very good organizational skills. This job is all about organization. The more organized one is the faster one works and the more efficiently and effectively one works and, therefore, the more money one makes (and there are less mistakes). As one "trainer" once said "I'll give you a few ideas and you work out the details of what will work for YOU on your own."

I appreciate this thread because there are all kinds of good ideas that we can pick and choose to incorporate into our working lives and perhaps make us all better adjusters.
Clayton Carr
Posted on Thursday, November 08, 2001 - 2:58 pm:   

** third post of this thread thought **

The weather, geography and class of property or pure casualty business (owner occupied vs tenant), frame / vinyl siding vs brick veneer, urban vs rural) or (plumber vs painter, roadbuilder vs landscaper, general contractor vs subcontractor) all were critical components that affected the expense of handling claims for these lines. Regardless of what the "contents" of 1000 or 10,000 claim files "said" with regards to their specific need for an IA, Engineer, cause & origin investigation, private investigators, or independent medical examinations; the results were monthly put in front of you with a 7 pound volume of computer spreadsheets where one line for each claim gave all the info the white shirts were willing to absorb. Sitting around the table of those meetings were well educated young men and women in their 30's - who knew nothing about claims. Claims were a cost of doing business and everyone else wanted to know why is this sector costing so much in expense dollars. Isn't this the time that adjuster business cards changed from "adjuster" or "claims rep" to "customer service representative" and the like? Companies were willing for their revenue (underwriting) to cost them via claims, but the proper adjudication of that claim dollar was deemed unnecessary. It is during that period of years that when you envision those around you - the people making the decisions - they may have been smarter, but they were not insurance people, they were not claims people; they are financial services people.
(* here is your 6th and 7th major "why" *)

This brings me current to my point in time, having left the company ranks in 1987; what I hear now from that medium is from 2nd and 3rd hand sources.

But as I finish with the "whys", I ask why concerning the following observations, some of which are tied to the opening statement that the "cat adjusting business must fundamently change".

Why have national IA firms diversified in the last decade? No longer just traditional "day to day" or "cat" claims service providers, but aggressively marketing their risk management units, or class action units, or health care units, etc.

Why are company claims people not required to be licensed? The lobby of this seems quiet up here now, but it went through two strong cycles in the past decade. Is it enough that companies can sell the notion they can police their own and pay their way out of their mistakes to whatever DOI they are accountable to? Again, brokers are licensed but underwriters are not.

Why do companies want to police the ranks of the IA's so much?

Why will Worlwide - likely be successful in generating a profit for his one day Messiah? Elements of this are so wrong, but the concept has great merit.

I'll sit back and listen now, as I formulate my thoughts on the more difficult task of any possible solutions; then to the fundamental change I perceive as required of the cat community.
Clayton Carr
Posted on Thursday, November 08, 2001 - 2:27 pm:   

** second post of this thought thread **

As the service office I was in quickly grew, and that is only accomplished with increased direct written premium, it became a somewhat autonomous branch in a few years; I was priveleged to be allowed to sit in on many discussions about planning. One of interest to this thread was staff planning. Then, in the mid 70's, claims staff needs were predicated on loss ratios. The math that follows is generic, but the concept lies within it. If the branch DWP was $40M and the all lines pure loss ratio was estimated / forecasted for next year at 70%, that meant you had to staff for $28M in claims. The figuring / planning is more detailed based on the percentage of each line of business - as you all know auto/$M premium will generate a lot more claims than CP/$M premium. However, lets say that the figuring from anticipated claims dollar losses resulted in requiring 14 claims people - that then resulted in you knowing whether you were to add 1 or 2 people. In those years, there was the invention of the "claims actuary"; underwriting had that animal on board for years to develop rate levels. The claims actuary in their early years focused management on their thinking of "units", not loss dollars per line of business. By the late 70's our modelling concepts for staff planning had fundamently changed incorporating "units of claims" per $M of a specific line of business. By the 80's loss dollars were no longer a component of planning, just statistical units. Think back when you first heard of insurance or claims as part of a financial services company. Try to recall when you first heard insurers change their expression of profit - from underwriting profit to the current "return on investment" (ROI). (* here is your 4th and 5th major "why" *) Claims evolved into "units of cost", while insurers became financial service providers with their results measured by their ROI; a very fundamental turn from focused underwriting and claims handling to develop a profit - to underwriting being a source of revenue for investment and claims being seconded to a "cost of doing business".

Now we are into the late 80's and the last decade. The "claims function" as a whole is now a cost on the business and the most visible component within that is the "claims expense factor". This led to the major mergers and acquisitions we witnessed within the FS marketplace of the past 10 years. Claims as a cost of doing business was under the microscope. Bodies were needed to handle units, policies were simplified with "plain language" - not only for the benefit of the consumers. Underwriting expense had for generations been clearly defined, "X" percentage commission for "Y" line of business etc, plus a couple of points for this and that. However, the "claims expense factor" had many variables and components. Simple lines like auto were clear and understandable - "X" amount of physical damage appraisals for "Y" average cost per 1000 claims, etc. However, property and pure casualty "CEF" were subject to the vagaries beyond predicting "X" kitchen fires per 100 units of policies etc.

** continued on third post **
Posted on Thursday, November 08, 2001 - 2:12 pm:   

Jim, and the rest,
my little input as to the "why's" is maybe simple.

We have to many masters to answer to. We have the cat site supervisor, individual supervisor, carrier supervisor and up and up and up. also we have our peers, who are turning in 'correct' claims also.

the staff have a direct supervisor who has 6 and upwards to supervise, they also are 'friends' on the job, and if you have ever seen a carrier evaluation, it only covers a few areas, and you give a rating of 1 to 5 and most all fit in the 2 4 range with a few 5's for communication, report writing,etc.

with almost 'everyone' looking over our shoulders, we 'have' to make sure we have dotted the t's and crossed the xxx's.

one other thing, 'THIS' thread has been one of the best in a long,long,long,time, Even,me, I and ours have learned some 'good' information.
thanks J.F. we may be doing this a while if something does not break.
Clayton Carr
Posted on Thursday, November 08, 2001 - 1:53 pm:   

As I have said earlier - "the claims industry has gone to hell in the past 10 to 15 years; there is no longer a prevailing depth of experience on either side of the fence".

Jim F. offered the carrot by suggesting that issue is worthy of discussion as to the "whys" and possible solutions, and with Jim L. offering to give his thoughts after this was initiated - here I go with my hardhat on.

In my opinion it is a dusty dirty trail going away back that leads to the painful "whys", and a fog laden steep slope to climb regarding the possible solutions.

I think, the "Cat adjusting business", the source of income for independent contractor (cat) adjusters; must fundamently change in style, perception, type of work sought, and operational technique. I believe this change must occur in 2002 with early momentum; or the cat industry as you know it will no longer exist in two years. Due to post space, my propensity to explain things often with too much detail, and any rebuttals I may choose to offer; this may take several posts.

I can only go back in history to 1969, those among us that predate that, I urge you to offer any insight of yet prior times. I feel it is important for all to realize how things have changed. This is not a gender issue, but where needed I will stick to "he/him". When I started as a rookie in a small service office for a multiline company, that "SO" only had $2000 claims authority - I had none for the 1st 3 months, then $500 for the next 3 months; the claims department was only two of us during that time. I went to the Ivory Tower in Toronto a couple of days a month for training. It was there that my awe and respect for the people in the business at that time grew. Of 20 or so claims people in the branch office they were all industry vets, all had white hair, and all seemed over 40 or 50 years old (that seemed real real old at the time). These people in their place and time had forgotten more about claims than most company senior people today actually know. (*here is your 1st major "why"*)

Listening to those people expound about claims - policy interpretations, how to investigate, dealing effectively with the public, settlement techniques - in great detail; built the foundation of my endearing love for claims handling. It wasn't a job, but something I really wanted to do and enjoyed doing - a career. Today, I sense such is not the case with people entering the "financial services" marketplace for a job in claims. (*here is your 2nd major "why"*) Insurance is now a financial services industry and too large of a segment of those who pass through a claims department have their sights set on a different sector of the FS marketplace - to establish their careers.

** Continued on next post **
Jim Lakes
Posted on Thursday, November 08, 2001 - 10:47 am:   


Thanks for your response. I do agree with what you have said. You can believe it or not but while I was making the post I was going to put a line in stating that I was referring to IA’s that handled daily claims, not just one peril adjusters, but I didn’t want to offend anyone or go down that road.

I was really referring to the IA’s that handle daily claims on a regular basis. Moreover, I really didn’t mean “all” IA’s were better than staff, just in general because of the reasons I expressed. Thanks for bringing that up.

I would be interested in hearing an answer from some, on the “why’s,” that Jim referred to and the solutions to the problem. I personally have my opinions as to the “why’s” but will hold it until some respond. But of course that’s my opinion and I could be wrong.

Jim Lakes RPA
National Catastrophe Director
RAC Adjustments, Inc
Jim Flynt (Jimflynt)
Posted on Thursday, November 08, 2001 - 7:31 am:   

Clayton, I realize your post was directed to Jim Lakes, but I wanted to add that I agree with your comments about the trends toward a lowering of the levels of knowledge and experience on both the staff and IA sides. The industry does in fact seem at times to have gone to hell, and there are certainly days when I think it only survives despite itself. By the way, this is a good dialogue worthy of a much deeper discussion as to the 'whys' and the possible solutions.
Clayton Carr
Posted on Thursday, November 08, 2001 - 12:44 am:   

Hi Jim, your two posts on this thread today, caught my eye; the second one triggering me to respond albeit with some trepidation from others who may not clearly understand my opinion.

I too have worked both sides of the fence, my first 18 years through the company ranks. I agree and disagree, a number of times with your thoughts today.

First, everyone clearly understand, this is no effort to defend the "inside company adjuster" staff type or otherwise, conversely I am not knocking the ranks of the "independent adjuster" but my IA remarks are solely centered on the "day to day" claims handling IA's, not cat independent contractor adjusters.

Yes, I certainly agree "legal expense" is looked at with some chagrin by the crisp white shirts in the Ivory Tower, while "claims expense" (adjuster fees) are chastised worse than an old pair of dirty socks. The common refrain was "why do you have to give out so many claims, and why do they charge so much"? The answers are not relevant to this, but the bean counters could deal with LE much better.

I do not know beyond a doubt that an IA is "far more" knowledgeable than a SA. That is too broad of a paint brush for me. I have seen the dark hollow side of too many IA's, and I'll venture to say you have as well in your years. Yes, regardless of geography, there are pockets in every region of IA's that are invaluable assets to every company - bring those pockets together and you do have a strong asset base of knowledge and experience. I can only speak from the pure casualty and property side, as I have said before all I know about auto is that that is how my name is spelled. But in an IA's thirst or his proprietors thirst for files and billings, or for other reasons - if the wrong file ends up in the wrong IA case load it is a disaster. Wrong as in a complex property file being assigned to a knowledgeable and seasoned auto adjuster who has done some property, or wrong as in an unusual products liability loss going to the best property adjuster. I don't think there is the depth of bodies now who are truly experienced multiline adjusters, I think there was that entity moreso 20 or 30 years ago. But, yes going to your first post, the example you gave of the 26 out of 28 company types is sadly widespread today in my part of the world as well.

I had endured many instances years ago when inside adjusters within my control would give improper direction to an IA, in fact I found it embarrassing. I only utilized two handfuls of firms over 3 provinces, and specifically directed the work to a handful of specific adjusters (to avoid the problems noted above). This created strong 2 way working relationships, and this issue evolved into having the adjuster call me after getting what they though were impoper handling directions; I used this as a constructive training tool for the inside types.

Overall, I think the claims industry has gone to hell in the last 10 to 15 years, there is no longer a prevailing depth of experience on either sides of the fence. Frankly, I think it would be scary today to manage a claims department with "kids", and be accountable for the results.
Posted on Wednesday, November 07, 2001 - 11:24 pm:   

Heck Todd, why Ol' Claude is handling the claim for the loss up in New York City for the Pace Picante Sauce processing plant. Or didn't you know? You don't really believe they make that stuff down on the banks of the Rio Grande do you?
Posted on Wednesday, November 07, 2001 - 11:15 pm:   

Claude , yes you did teach me a lot of these tricks and I thank you. Now you know I wasn't talking about you, after all, one who taught these things would never put a big tape measure in their pocket full of chalk. BTW I wasn't smiling... I was rolling on the floor !Hehehe.Hey .. my truck doesn't have any fancy air scoops !!! ????? Only a few accessories appreciated mostly by Texans and Californians. Maybe you've been in New York City too long. Get yourself some Pace picante sauce... that'll take care of it.

Hope you were smilin when you said my ladder was ugly.

Denver 's great. Hope you are wearing your mask.
Claude Wilson
Posted on Wednesday, November 07, 2001 - 9:49 pm:   

Todd, You better be smiling when you say things about chalk and heavy tape measures in pockets. You know who is the one who taught you some of those other adjusting tricks. Besides, who are you to talk, that ladder of yours is so uggggly, no one would want to steal it except another adjuster who knows just how light and handy it is. By the way, do you still have that white truck with the fancy air scoops? Gotcha

I am still in New York City. How's Denver?
Jim Lakes
Posted on Wednesday, November 07, 2001 - 5:52 pm:   

That is because we all know that carriers can recoup the atty's expense by raising the premium but they cannot recoup our expense.
I have worked on both sides of the fence and I know beyond any doubt that an independent adjuster is far more knowledgeable than a staff adjuster because of dealing with many different carriers, their policies and procedures. There is nothing more aggravating than to have an inside adjuster on a claim trying to instruct you how to do the job when you know they are wrong.
mark (Olderthendirt)
Posted on Wednesday, November 07, 2001 - 4:17 pm:   

Jim maybe there is a business opportunity for the vendors in your comments. Bring in a team of Cat adjusters for 2 to 3 months and clean up the messes and teach the staff how to deal with people by having them ride along. Trouble with the idea is that the benefits would show up over a period of years while the expences would be up front. You don't have to spend as much time on a file referred to a lawyer, and legal fees are more tolerated then adjusters fees.
Jim Lakes
Posted on Wednesday, November 07, 2001 - 4:07 pm:   


I won’t try to bore you with details, but answer the question with a question.

Who is the carrier? I want to make sure that I don’t have any stock in that company. Don’t answer this question. This is why there are Good Adjusters like “Bill Cook” out there.

As you know and has been reported many times in the recent past, good claims people are becoming harder and harder to find. There is a carrier here in the Chicago area that has 28 inside claims people and 26 of the 28 have less than 8 months experience. Then, we have to wonder why good adjusters like you have to ask these kinds of questions and attempt to straighten out these messes. Of course, these are good questions for those with little or no experience.

Jim Lakes RPA
National Catastrophe Director
RAC Adjustments, Inc.
Tom Joyce (Tomj)
Posted on Wednesday, November 07, 2001 - 1:43 pm:   

Todd, always keep in mind your expenses will eat you up, and unless you maintain records the IRS will.
Alan, thanks for your response. Maybe you or others would care to take the time to inform some of the members of the difference between estopel and waiver??
This is a subject that is very important and although is at times considered a fine line, is extremely signifant.
Posted on Wednesday, November 07, 2001 - 12:51 pm:   

Apparently, I have the great honor of being the first "newbie" to post to this thread.(If working 2 cats and 1 branch assist assignment for 3 different vendors and 3 different major carriers is still considered "newbie" status.) I just want to stress to the new adjuster that is getting in to the field and making some major purchases, that having the best tools are VERY important and will pay for themselves quickly. So don't try to pinch pennies when buying your money making tools. I have a lightweight ladder that folds once from 6' to 12' and I can carry it to and from eave with one hand. I love it because it lays flat in the bed of my truck and so far hasn't been stolen, I believe because it isn't visible.I also use the new Olympus D-100 digital camera which is at 2- 1/2 inches by 4 inches is very compact and lightweight and fits easily in my tool bag pouch. I do wear a velcro tool bag, fast and ez to put on and take off unlike the buckle type. And it carries everything I need... 100' tape with golf ball screwed onto end for not only steep roofs but for all roofs as there is no need to bend all the way over to roof edge to hang your tape. extra wide 25 ' tape which extends 10' w/o breaking comes in VERY handy for making many , many types of measurements.chalk and my camera. This set up allows me to have to carry only my clip board (equipped with the acculine drawing system so my drawings are always straight and with perfect right angles.) in my hand. Not like those of us that have heavy tape measures and chalk in your pockets, getting chalk all over your clothes and with a big bulky camera swinging from your neck. And maybe carrying both your clipboard AND a 100' tape,tying up both of your hands.Hehehe, you know who you are. THE MOST IMPORTANT TOOL, as far as I am concerned is your printer. After trying several Canon and HP printers I invested in an HP 1215 Photosmart and a power inverter (so I can print while on the road)and MAN I'm telling you , this thing prints so FAST that it shakes my truck as its driving down the road. I have gotten faster , but I am not fast enough to have to wait on this printer. Speaking of mobile officing, fot those who choose to use an assistant or more specifically a trainee, I have a helper who is licensed and learning Xactimate. My plan for our next cat is to have a handsfree base unit for him in the truck and a good set of handsfree voice activated headset walkie-talkie radio for me on the roof and in and out of risk. I will call out scope to him and he will instantaneously enter it into estimate. While I talk to Mr or Mrs insured he is printing photos and paperwork and estimate is left with insured and we are putting file together as we drive to next claim. This also provides him with excellent training on Xactimate, he sees the photos and the damage and hears the conversation with the Insured without ever getting out of the truck and stepping onto the property. Not to mention the numbers we should be able to crank out and the percentage of first contact closes.("One and Done" for all you Farmers devotees.)
I'd almost do it for free....Almost
alan jackson (Ajackson)
Posted on Wednesday, November 07, 2001 - 12:47 pm:   

If the insured relied upon the repersentation from the adjuster that the contents where covered and authorized removal / cleaning etc.. based upon those repersentations then estopel whould apply. Estopel and Waiver would surely act as a defense to any attempt for denial.
Tom Joyce (Tomj)
Posted on Wednesday, November 07, 2001 - 12:17 pm:   

Got a challange for you all!
I known it's gonna come back and kick me,but a friend in need...
I'm 99% sure I'm correct, but your learned advice would be welcome.
It is the time of year when bucks(deer variety) get moving around.
Employees of a landscaping co., see a deer and follow?, chase it. The deer dives into a home, spreads blood on furinture, walls, personal contents. Also glass from windows and contents is scattered in carpets and associated damage to walls and other building items,and tears up a bathroom where the police herded him into. (4 point and about 130lbs according to animal control)
Insured has an all risk HOB(Texas), about the same as a HO3, and an 101 endorsed.
The claim is reported within a few hours, insured requested advise on how to proceed. Adjuster sets an Appt for five days later!!!!!!
The adjuster refers him to a perfered contactor and advises him to remove the contents as necessary for cleaning and list other items damaged. Also approves ALE as neccessary with a limit.
Keep in mind, there is a 16mo and 5yr in house.
Policyholder has limited ALE expences to the point of trying to paint walls and ceilings and secure a room for the children.
The insured requests an advance on extra expense asap. Company tells him that it might be a week to get a check, then, (now think), tells him that the contents are not covered.
There are several issues involved here.
First is for Jim F to get an answering machine.
Second is delay in issueing an advance once approved.
Third is authorization and commitment on removal and repairs to Personal Property, even though this is a named peril section, then denying coverage.
Fourth is there estopel involved????? Once the door opens???
Fifth, is see why there is a reason for PA's
Sixth, I could go on but I think the learned responses will cover the other points.
This is a real situation, so be serious please.
And the answer will suprise some, but not all.
Thank you all for your time.
mark (Olderthendirt)
Posted on Wednesday, November 07, 2001 - 12:00 pm:   

There are many ways of doing this job, and for the newer of us, read all the excellent ideas in here and find which work best for you. Some of us work best with computer mapping, others work best of a paper map. Both ways can work. Kile unless I'm working for a company that let's us write checks, I like to sit down in my room with my photos and write my estimates. I also like to do my paper work in the morning and evening, and scope inbetween. (this doesn't work in the 100+ heat of texas when you do not want to be outside in the afternoon) I have seen some ideas in the thread that I will try next storm, let's keep the ideas coming.
Kile Anderson (Kileanderson)
Posted on Wednesday, November 07, 2001 - 10:51 am:   

OK, now I'm a little confused. Cecelia, you say you always carry your computer, in case you have some down time. Don't you write all of your estimates on site? I thought everyone did. I write all of my estimates right at the claim, that way if I realize I forgot a measurement or didn't get a photo, I'm still there and can just hop out of the truck and get it. Then I settle the claim on the spot, unless the insured isn't home, then I just leave a copy of the estimate on the door in a hanger bag. That way I can call later, go over the estimate on the phone and issue the payment through the mail. This isn't always possible, especially on big flood claims. (Every single one of my flood claims in West Virginia this year had to go to reformation before we could pay them.)

After writing the check and settling the claim, if I have time, I staple the photos right there in the drive way, label them and write my notes if I have time. That way, at the end of the day most of my paperwork is done. All I have to do is cross the T's and dot the I's and I'm done.

I have a very linear thought process. I drive myself nuts if I have several open and inspected files so I try to inspect, settle and close before I move on to the next house. This method may keep me in the field longer than those who just inspect until 2:00p.m. and do paperwork all night, but I get a good nights sleep. When I'm back at my hotel, I spend about an hour tieing up the loose ends on my files, I return any calls that have come in and then I make phone calls to confirm or make appointments or to make first contacts. I try not to call anyone after 8:30 or 9:00 unless they have told me to call later. Using this method, I can usually inspect, close and turn in 5 or 6 a day unless there is a geographic reason or if the claims are very involved.

I'd like to hear how others organize their day and close files. I've only actually ridden around with a couple of other adjusters and we all do it pretty much the same way. I'm interested in how others do things.
Posted on Wednesday, November 07, 2001 - 8:24 am:   

Tom, your last idea also helps to improve your chances of your messages being taken correctly or your phone calls routed properly to you by the hotel front desk folks. The occasional fruit basket or box of candy (especially around holidays) for the staff can result in better rental rates, room upgrades and an overall attitude of cooperation.

You're right Tom that these rooms become our 'homes' for weeks if not months so we need to be nice to the 'neighbors.'

Russ Lott does the best job of anyone I have ever met in 'schmoozing' the front desk folks, and has even been known to invite them along to our sometimes group dinners or for one of our 'cocktail hours.'
Posted on Wednesday, November 07, 2001 - 7:10 am:   

A couple other 'quirks' I have and do !
I always when checking in find my room cleaning person. I give them a ten spot,up front,for yes doing nothing. I then tell them it is in their best interest to 'take' care of this room (mine) extremely well, just look out for it, no one to go in, you clean it early and often, change the towels, etc when you are not scheduled to do.
I have found that my room is cleaned almost daily, my 'stuff' is never bothered, my 'home' is secure. I have yet, knock on wood, to have things come up missing. I even have left my change jug out, big bucks in there, and nothing gone.
I also spend a lot of time at the front desk, jawing and carrying on, ordering pizza at night, for them too. I try to keep a good rapport with all that works at my place of staying. It helps, I started here with a $ 59.00 per night rate and now it is a flat $ 30.00 and has been for 2to3 months. a great deal if you have ever stayed at a place as nice as this. I won't reveal the name, due to some clerk getting into trouble for the rate.
All this has helped me, and made my stay a good time and safe and secure. It may work for you
Posted on Wednesday, November 07, 2001 - 2:31 am:   

I have only hired an assistant while out of town on 2 storms. One was a family friend who wanted to see if she would enjoy pursuing an adjusting career.

The other was the waitress at the coffee shop in the hotel. She was one of the best assitants I have ever had. She was young, about 19, and a full time college student. She was very comfortable talking to people and she loved the freedom of coming in while I was out and getting everything done. She took my messages and returned what calls she could. I was going to have her drive me to my appts while I put estimates into the computer (I was working an area where I was driving way too much, but it couldn't be helped). However, my cigarette lighter died and the battery in the computer wasn't strong enough so that never happened.

Locally, I have hired several assitants. One was really nice, but she never could learn the cardinal points and that made map reading and APPLICATION of the info on the map impossible. Another seemed to think I had some sort of interest in her personal life. VERY personal life. I had another that every single document had to have at least one change. The one where I had to correct the spelling of my first AND last name put me over the edge. I haven't had one since. The good ones went on to become adjusters.

Regarding the appts - I do what Kile does. I divide the losses up by zip codes. But then I do what Tom does and get a map book. I put them all in order (I can do this with 50 and could probably do it with more if I pushed it REALLY hard) and divide them up into a certain number per day depending on the storm. The first one gets a definite time. The rest get a 2 hr window. Most people have voicemail of some sort and I tell them who I am, my phone number and the day and time frame I am coming by(Thurs between 12-2). I tell them I need them to call and confirm if they will be able to be there(on Thurs between 12-2). I tell them if I don't hear back from them that I will assume they did not get the message and that they won't be there and so I won't be there either. So if they can meet me on Thurs between 12-2 to please call and confirm. I DO repeat the day and time (and date if the appt is a week away) THREE times. It has been brought out that people don't always hear you the first and 2nd time. I always say almost exactly the same thing with every call. That way I know what I say whether I can remember specifically or not. After a couple hundred claims it all becomes a blur.

And, as Ghost does, I use my cell phone if I need to. I always carry my computer so that, as Tom mentioned downtime, if I have no shows or some that don't take as long as expected I can boot it up and put in an estimate or two. Or I can call my voice mail, pick up messages and then return calls while driving to my next appt.

I won't even get into my colored markers and pens and sticky notes. That's a whole 'nother organizational system.

Sorry for running on. I just realized that this forum is on east coast time. I am NOT up at 2:30am!!
Tom Joyce (Tomj)
Posted on Tuesday, November 06, 2001 - 12:20 pm:   

Just an idea, who has more contact with the daily flow of life in a city/town?
Taxi drivers and cooks and waitreses in diners.
They will help you find a room, a location, and also will help with some of mapping, scheduling, and clerical needs at a reasonalble fee.
As was said before by a member, we are in a town helping people, but also making a living. Share the earnings, after all it is a deducation on taxes and saves a lot of headaches.
Chuck Deaton
Posted on Tuesday, November 06, 2001 - 11:27 am:   

I carry my own chair. How many times have I seen adjusters sitting in motel chairs on pillows.;jsessionid=5TNIMKKC4CGD2CXEAIHCHPQK2QBBAIV0?_requestid=1531

I also use Pilot pens.

An electric stapler and a heavy duty stapler are good ideas along with a couple of small folding printer tables and a folding work table.

Clear legal size tie closure envelopes make short work of setting up files.
mike stephenson (Photoadjuster)
Posted on Tuesday, November 06, 2001 - 10:45 am:   

I have never found the perfect way to select a motel/hotel's location in relation to the storm office or the claim location. I have tried all types of motels in all locations, but it was never completely right. A cheap motel close to the storm could be unsafe. A better motel was too full of adjusters to depend on getting an outside phone line. Well, you know what I mean.

For the 2nd half of this year's storm season I tried something new. I purchased a micro motorhome. This Starflyte is only 21ft long and can easily cruise thru residential neighborhoods or park in the insured's driveway. It sleeps two and is completely self-contained with it's own generator, bathroom, shower, refrig and stove.

At the end of the day I park & sleep where ever I am. In a rented RV space,the office parking lot,K-mart or Walmart's parking lot. (since it adds to their parking lot's security, they actually encourage RV's to overnite)

In the past I had tried larger motherhomes, but you still need to tow a vehicle to run claims. With the 24 hour reporting to the storm office that some of the vendors require, the large motherhome was just not quick enought.

This micro has a V-10 engine and is almost too quick. Oklahoma sure has a lot of highway patrol troopers :)

So far it has worked extremely well.

Mike Stephenson
Posted on Tuesday, November 06, 2001 - 6:53 am:   

May I suggest a requirement for your grand overnight stays on liesure at any fine establishment.
I for one have enjoyed the Candlewood suites, super staff,super everything.
but be that as it may, try and find a place, even while pinching pennies, to enjoy yourself while working your tail off.
these tips are 'IF AT ALL POSSIBLE" a good view, a window to open, plenty of hookups for phone, yes a good cable or sattalite system, ask to see a room, look at it all. this is your home for the next month maybe as in my case 7 months in st.louis.a hail storm mind you. but at any case bring the things to make you comfortable and when you are 'not' working, you don't see the files,the computer,the mess. i personally don't mind paying an extra buck or two for adjoing rooms, in order to get up, go to 'my' office and then to my bed.
i know sometimes it doesn't work and we have to endure, but lets face it, most of the time 2-3 files per day will more than pay your room expenses for the week and sometimes more.
I try to set up just like an office and then take it down the same way, never unpacking. If I am comfortable where I stay,my work seems to be more productive and fewer 'mistakes' and problems.
rambling but hopefully made a point or three.
Clayton Carr
Posted on Monday, November 05, 2001 - 11:48 pm:   

Yes Kile, this is a great first day to a good thread. Another item here I would like to hear about is "teams". I've done it up here in the frosty north (we had our 1st cann't see out the window snow last Saturday) on "standard" work and it has worked well. I use the term "goffer" with endearing respect, because once it works it just gets like a machine with fresh oil. I'm not referring to two adjusters sharing space or office equipment, but either/ or a 2nd person to handle the phone and some / most of the paper, or help onsite; I do recognize that "goffer" must be licensed before they even say hello to an insured.

However, I had real bad experience with it on cats in the south, the pressures and expectations are different, and the assistant was not accoustomed to being so far away from home for so long; perhaps that is part of it. Nothing worse than the hired help (on their own free time)in an ajoining room with a blarring TV and a Coke with some elixher in it while I am bone tired with a mind set of "I'll just do one more report"; but that is probably my own fault for my negative thoughts at that time.

At storm offices I have seen husband and wife, father and son teams; but few nonrelated assistants - for the most part the "related" teams are both seasoned adjusters with their own assigned files - perhaps that latter part (their own assigned files)is part of the reason that type of team works better with all the co-support and sharing that would bring to the room.

I still believe in the concept as being benefical and worth the increased productivity it should bring. While the adjuster with some early appointments hits the road, someone else can set up the "office", max the phone, deal with the photos, print and assemble the reports, and do some necessary running around (groceries etc etc) while the adjuster works on creating the reports. Does that not free up a lot of time to adjust files? Tell me if I'm wrong and why, or tell me how you have made it work.
Kile Anderson (Kileanderson)
Posted on Monday, November 05, 2001 - 10:48 pm:   

This is possibly the best thread that has been on this site in years. Please, everyone that has a good time saving tip, hint, idea, product, please let us know.

On the subject of where to stay. I mostly work for Big Red so I always try to stay as close to the office as possible, but they like to move the office sometimes so that isn't always as easy as it sounds. Since most storm managers I have worked for like you to begin and end your day in the office, even if it is just to check your in box, I always like to be as close to the claims office as possible. This is also a good thing if your claims are an hour away, there is less chance of running into an insured when you are treating yourself to that once weekly juicy steak and a beer. Nothing hurts the digestion more than an insured stopping by the table, even if it's to compliment you there is always that innitial fear that they are going to complain about something or even worse try to buy you a beer.
Ghostbuster (Ghostbuster)
Posted on Monday, November 05, 2001 - 10:34 pm:   

Where to stay has a lot to do with the requirements of the carrier/vendor. With carriers such as Big Red & Big Blue, they tend to require daily, if not twice a day physical check-ins. As such, it is best to find lodging close to the office. I have always preferred this way if for nothing else, convienent access to supplies and supervision.

Being close to my zone is less important than being close to the office. Since I run my files on an appointment basis predominantly, I control the time management.
Clayton Carr
Posted on Monday, November 05, 2001 - 9:57 pm:   

Kile, again you mention a point indirectly that I have struggled with in my mind - when you mentioned the claims office.

I constantly argue with myself whether I should be staying near the vendor claims office or "moteled" in the midst of my claims - without throwing too many variables into this; and I personally like to get settled in somewhere quick, often before I have my claims in hand but known generally at least what part of a county most of my claims will be in.

I know I have to attend the vendor office twice a week anyway, on the other hand I'm where the losses are the remainder of the week - other than "paper time".

Mentally, if I'm a hour from the vendor office; I see that as at least 4 "lost travel hours" a week. Or conversely, if I am daily an hour away from the bulk of the losses, that's 2 hours a day "lost".

Don't tell me the answer is as simple as being a 1/2 hour each way, there is never the proper place to stay to make that answer the right one.

I'd appreciate hearing from those that have this situation clear in their minds. Not a big thing but it tends to frustrate me, there are too few hours in a day to be productive; and ya hate to burn daylight as the Duke used to say.
Posted on Monday, November 05, 2001 - 7:45 pm:   

A good tip for the computer people who don't like the mapping.
Take a 'map book' (to have with you in truck) and also buy the $2.95 or whatever large map.Tape or Pin this one on the wall beside your bed because thats the biggest wall available.also buy some magic markers (different colors) and when mapping by zip or street or area, highlight on the 'BIG' map and 'truck' map the streets that you are going to be on the next trip out. As the storm progresses , you will find that Maple street is 'real' familiar and you allready know the way to get there etc. It also helps when you are asked about a 'street',claim or whatever, you say , hey, I was on Maple, and can ring a bell about a claim.
Also if the policyholder "IS" not home at time of inspection, while on the roof, with marker of some kind, or business card, identify something with your 'mark', leave your card under a shingle next to a chimney or at edge of roof line (2-3 shingles up, so it won't blow off for a while), and then when questioned by insured or anyone about 'INSPECTING' roof, as in, 'my neighbor says you never climbed the roof", then ask him to go up and look where the card or mark you left is to prove you were there, and thats why the roof has "no" damage based on your professional opinion 'AFTER' your thorough roof inspection.
Hope some of this helps.
Kile Anderson (Kileanderson)
Posted on Monday, November 05, 2001 - 6:28 pm:   

Clayton and Mark,

Thanks for the insight. I like to sit down the moment I get the files and order them by zip code and street (if I have multiple claims on the same street). Then I plot them all out on my laptop maping software. Sometimes this gives me a better idea of where they are as opposed to just looking at the addresses. Sometimes I have two houses that are listed on different streets but are in reality neighbors because one is on a corner. This also gives me a better idea about how my claims are grouped and if you zoom out you can actually see the path of the hail if you are working for a carrier with a large share of the market.

I also try to cross reference claims with the same last names. Many times, in a small town, these are relatives and making contact with just one can knock out 3 or 4 contacts in just one call and you can plan an entire afternoon with just that family. I once had an entire family(Grandmother, Son, Daughter, Granddaughter) all in the same block. Grandmother was home all day and she just took me from one house to the next and I did all 4 claims in the same morning.

If you haven't yet gotten into computer mapping, you really need to. If you already have a laptop the GPS antennae and software only cost about $189.00, even cheaper on some of the web sites. It is the best money you will ever spend. When I get an assignment I put the claims office address into my computer and it shows me exactly where it is and all the hotels in the vicinity, most of the hotel listings have direct phone numbers listed right on the screen. Once you get to the location, you don't have to drive to all the bookstores and gas stations looking for maps of the area and you don't have to spend time squinting at the street lists and trying to find AA19 and then hunt for the street. You can search for the address and in most cases it will even show you where that address is located on that street which really comes in handy when you have a street that is 30 miles long, like in the Houston area. The hardest part about having the software is explaining to people on the phone that you can find their house without directions. Oh, and it's just another cool gadget you can show the insured when they follow you out to the truck.
Clayton Carr
Posted on Monday, November 05, 2001 - 5:32 pm:   

Kile, some good points; for the most part I do as you do. The "box of claims" is a tough one, I like to think I'm not alone in stating that as hard as I may try to contact eveyone in the first 24 hours (i.e. actually speak to them) it is a dilema most times. I do a form letter once I get settled in somewhere to every insured - telling them who I am, whom representing, for what purpose, the numbers they can reach me at and my fax number - telling them I have tried to contact them or I may have contacted them by the time they get this note, but put this in your pocket - I have your claim and will be in touch with you or you contact me. I get this in the mail the next morning after I have got my claims. Even if they are out of their home or business, they and their mail will quickly unite.

I always take a few extra files in the area I'm headed that day, if not all current files with me in the truck when I head out on appointments. Learned quickly after some no shows or some taking less time than originally thought from the phone discussion, that wasted daylight in a neighbourhood I have claims in is wasted dollars.

I haven't progressed in my old mind to computer mapping, but when I make my file lists and such on a speadsheet format, I print the list in several formats, so depending where I am calling, or who calls me, or where I am going; the one list I made is printed in alpha or numeric formats of insured, vendor claim number, insurer claim number, insured telephone number, zip code - seems to make the administrative part of it go smoother.
mark (Olderthendirt)
Posted on Monday, November 05, 2001 - 5:04 pm:   

I almost never inspect a property without the insured being present and always book a time to meet, allowing for leeway in arrival time. Maybe this takes a little more work, but reduces call-backs, misunderstandings and complaints. If the schedule gets disrupted, we all have cell phones. Works for me.
Kile Anderson (Kileanderson)
Posted on Monday, November 05, 2001 - 4:31 pm:   

OK, here's one. How do you plan out your inspections. I personally attempt to make contact with every claim the same day I get them. At the beginning of a storm when you get 80 claims or more in one day that isn't always possible but I do my best. When I call I try to make an appointment in the next week or so. I group my claims by zip code and street if possible to avoid back tracking. I always make a set appointment if I can. Some people, especially after a hail storm when they don't have any interior damage, just say drop by whenever you can. I know some adjusters don't make set appointments they just say they will be in the neighborhood on Tuesday or this week and drop by. I personally don't like this approach but it seems to work for the people that use it. What are your oppinions and what works best for you?
Posted on Monday, November 05, 2001 - 4:20 pm:   

I was trained by an "ole" school adjuster with over 38 years experience,at that time,oh so long a go,31 years!!!!, and he said that 90 % of this business is the policy, and 10 % is knowing how to deal with individuals of all types.
1st and foremost, "look for every way under the sun and in the policy language to "PAY" the insured for their reported claim" THEN, and only THEN, advise the policyholder 'DIRECT' that you have 'SEARCHED' and 'TRIED' to figure out a way short of 'lying,stealing'or cheating' to 'PAY' his reported claim and just cannot under the terms of the policy that "HE" purchased! Hand over a copy of the policy and request they try ,and find a way, if the have doubts. I think you will find in just by making this statement alone, your denials will be much easier and sometimes, the policyholder will, in fact, write,call or notify in some fashion, the claims manager or your supervisor, that "you" did a great job even when denying a claim. Now that is a "real" hero letter and you are just doing your job.
Hope this helps "just" a little!
Posted on Monday, November 05, 2001 - 4:11 pm:   


Couldn't agree more on the "Professional" aspect of your post. I have seen some adjusters show up
to the Insureds home with their boot cut Levis and pointed cowboy boots with their their heavy- weight champ belt buckles and 4 day beards with extended bellys over their pants with their white Tshirts with cigarettes rolled in the sleeve. Tell you what, that comes to my door, they wouldn't be coming in. I would immediately contact the carrier and request another adjuster. Don't misunderstand, I have nothing against any of the things mentioned in themselves but that is not a Professional appearance and the language it sends off is not of a professional totally capable of properly handling my claim. There again ladies I don't expect you to show up in high heals and
skirts to climb on the roofs. I think alot of times we just don't think about how we look to other people we are suppose to assist. If the insureds can't get past how we look, they are NOT going to to be happy with anything we tell them.
Posted on Monday, November 05, 2001 - 4:07 pm:   


Couldn't agree more on the "Professional" aspect of your post. I have seen some adjusters show up
to the Insureds home with their boot cut Levis and pointed cowboy boots with their their heavy- weight champ belt buckles and 4 day beards with extended bellys over their pants with their white Tshirts with cigarettes rolled in the sleeve. Tell you what, that comes to my door, they wouldn't be coming in. I would immediately contact the carrier and request another adjuster. Don't misunderstand, I have nothing against any of the things mentioned in themselves but that is not a Professional appearance and the language it sends off is not of a professional totally capable of properly handling my claim. There again ladies I don't expect you to show up in high heals and
skirts to climb on the roofs. I think alot of times we just don't think about how we look to other people we are suppose to assist. If the insureds can't get past how we look, they are NOT going to to be happy with anything we tell them.
Clayton Carr
Posted on Monday, November 05, 2001 - 11:50 am:   

Good luck with this thread Jim, I hope it stays positive, thought provoking, and resourceful for more than a few days before it splits off into negative tangents.

I started in claims in 1969, all that those 32 years mean is that I clearly recognize I do not know it all, continue to be fascinated with my interaction with the policy paying public, and still wonder about and fight the public's negative perception of our industry.

Perhaps these thoughts early in this thread are a few things that if pondered and accepted within each person's personality, will benefit there claims career.

Claims are to be adjusted, not processed. Having worked for years on the company side in all roles inside and on the road, there was always pressure to deal with the numbers; but greater pressure to properly adjust a loss as oppossed to just pushing the paper (processing). When my time came to be a RCM, companies were putting heavy emphasis on the closed file and the mighty IBNR. I was in a constant struggle with technically qualified adjusters to have them stick to the basics - coverage confirmation first, then a proper investigation and gathering of the all facts - cause first then quantum. Getting the adjusters more in tune with that approach caused their "bedside manner" to suffer with the insureds. This led to discussions and training for the adjusters to recognize the trauma people underwent having suffered a loss. Claims people must recognize that policyholder's personalities likely differ from their own.

I believe, and I tried for years to instill to adjusters, that when we call an insured or knock on their door; we are there to provide a professional service. The word "professional" is important, this is not a trade. Through the 70's and early 80's we had to always wear a suit and tie, even at the dirtiest losses. That is not the case anymore, but I applaude those vendors who forbid jeans and Tshirts. Professional also extends to how we deal with people and the knowledge we expound to them or use to interpret what we see and are told.

I used to try and make adjusters think about - and still today when I hear harsh stories conveyed by adjusters - what would you expect and want to show up at your door to handle your claim? I have clear expectations of how I want to be treated by service vendors in return for my dollar, being in the industry my expectations may be higher or clearer than Joe policyholder, but why would we not try hard to service the public professionaly each time - as we would want or expect to be treated ourselves. Finally, this leads to each claim being different, we may have a box of 50 or 60 claims to deal with; but each policyholder is unique and when it comes time to deal with them - we owe them our professional expertise both tangibly and intengibly.
Jim Flynt (Jimflynt)
Posted on Monday, November 05, 2001 - 9:51 am:   

This thread is being initiated to allow adjusters to share helpful techniques which may assist newer less experienced adjusters in properly handling and closing claim files.

It is also being set up to assist new and newer adjusters with a thread for asking questions relating to how to proper report file closings.

Please share your positive ideas here as well as sharing your horror stories of 'messed up files' which you have had to rework on reassignments and clean-up.

Topics | Home | Current Forum | The Classifieds | Adjuster Roster | Channels | Resources | Contact Us