Time Management Skills- “How to start a storm” By Lenz with Mariposaltd Claims

July 29, 2007

Thanks to VP David Swank  of Mariposa Ltd  for allowing us to share this article on our blog. This is outstanding advice for new adjusters for their first storm. We often refer to this article in our mock disaster assignment and appointment setting drill exercise in our 40 hour Fundamentals of Claims online course.

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How to Start a Storm . . .             Some gentle suggestions for adjusters just climbing their first ladders . .  from Dan & Leslie Lenz, Mariposa Insurance Adjusters                                www.Mariposaltd.com

 When a disaster hits . . . sometimes it’s the adjusterInundated with claims from a vendor and beset by people who want you there yesterday, the easiest thing to do is to call people nearby and go to see them as soon as possible.  Scoping is much faster than writing, so the inclination is to fill the day with inspections and head for the motel/office — once it’s too dark to take any more photos — to write claims until midnight.  If there’s not much drive-time between loss locations, it’s conceivable that eight to twelve losses can be scoped in a day (even more if the CAT is hail).  45 minutes for a meal, half an hour of responding to messages and setting appointments, and three hours of writing estimates rounds out a pretty full day.  But, most claims take at least an hour to work up properly with diary notes, drawings, reports, detailed estimate and final review.  So if you write three after scoping eight, you’re five behind…the first day.  Do this for a week, and you’re 35 behind; three weeks later you could be have more than 100 files waiting to be written.  Not a good deal for the adjuster or for the Insureds.  And it’ll drive the vendor/adjusting company crazy!  If the vendor has several adjusters working like this, it really hurts their performance numbers with the insurance company . . . a sure recipe for disaster.Another tendency is writing up the shortest and easiest claims first, putting off the more tedious, complicated and time-consuming ones.  If you do leave them until later, believe me, they’ll hang over your head like Damocles’ sword*.  The best way to improve your effectiveness as an adjuster is to establish an organized routine and stick to it as much as possible and keep in touch with your vendor.Once you have your claims in hand and settle in at your base of operations (motel, room suite, RV, whatever…) review your files for notes that will help you prioritize damages.  Mark claims that need to be seen immediately (color coding with red can help) and call them right away.  Find out the severity of their damage, give them your number and let them know (if you can at this time) when you’ll be out to see them.Take a whole day just for contacts, data entry and organizing your scoping schedule.  It will be worth it.Contact everyone on your list, leaving a number where you can be reached.  Spend the whole day doing this if necessary.  Have Insureds prioritize themselves regarding severity  (most will admit they know others are worse off than they are, so you can then set your schedule pretty much the way you want it.)  Asking them for input makes them more patient with your inspection schedule.  Explain that you will call back in a few days to set an appointment.  Then, do it!Enter basic data in your computer & use the locating function in SimSol to mapspot claims so you can schedule your appointments efficiently.  (If your claims were downloaded directly…lucky you!)  Your first two or three days may be a bit scattered because you’re going by damage priority, but this should settle down once the worst damages are dealt with.Call your first two or three days’ worth of people and set appointments, giving yourself at least a two-hour time frame for arrival.  (It’s a good idea at this point to ask about any protective pups that might be around, requesting they be confined if possible.  Even the gentlest dog can become a barking/biting machine when it encounters a strange person with a ladder and clipboard!  And most people with ladders and clipboards are a little strange…)Scope only three or four losses the first day or two, and make every effort to write them up that night, following the spec list of report requirements provided by your vendor.  Turn them in immediately for review so any discrepancies between your reports and the vendor’s preferences can be noted and adjusted before you’ve done a dozen or more that have to be returned for correction.  Check with your vendor for feedback on your first finished files and ask how you can make them better.Only scope as many losses as you can write up that night.  Five is a good goal.  Six is excellent.  Seven or eight . . . well, it’s either light damage or a hailstorm or you’re Super Adjuster!  Make an effort to do it right the first time.  It often takes twice as long to work up a file (labeling photos, drawing the roof or floorplan, writing reports, itemizing the estimate, reviewing the paperwork) as the time spent in the field, and a detailed and thorough finished file that passes review the first time (and, hopefully, won’t require a supplement) is your goal. Set your files up in the order you scoped your losses and write them up in that order.  It’s really not fair to your Insureds to do otherwise.  Return phone calls the day you receive them if possible; otherwise, within 24 hours.  Call to set appointments only a few days out, allowing yourself a little free time for the inevitable emergencies.  If the free time isn’t filled with a claim, head home early and write another estimate.  There’s always another estimate!

In summary:•  Prioritize your claims•  Make initial phone contact & leave a number with your Insureds  (it makes them much more comfortable knowing they can reach you)•  Establish a routine•  Call your Insureds•  Pace yourself•  Don’t over-scope•  Call your Insureds•  Keep to your routine as much as possible•  Don’t be afraid to ask for help/suggestions.  (The company you’re working for would much rather be aware of your situation so they can refrain from giving you work you feel you can’t handle than have you become so bogged down & frustrated that you dump the whole thing and head back home!)•  Did I say “Call your Insureds”?Getting so far behind that you rush through your claims or become so frustrated that you can’t complete your work makes an adjuster who is almost worse than the disaster that brought him or her to the storm. Having and following a specific and logical work pattern can keep you on track to becoming a thorough, competent and sought-after adjuster, one who works more than just the biggest catastrophes. *(If you are familiar with allusions to the “sword of Damocles,” you probably already know that to feel that the sword of Damocles is hanging over you is to have a sense of anxiety and of impending doom.)

 

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Cyber bullying, Abusive emails…Stay safe in the forums and with emails

July 29, 2007

Anyone who runs a site such as adjuster forums, blogs or other businesses such as adjusting firms as well as participants at such sites may at times experience harassing emails, cyber stalking, cyber harassment,etc. It never fails to amaze me the fake email names and folks posting in a fake alias. Our site at ClaimSmentor requires verification of id and participation in the adjusting community so we haven’t had that issue there thank goodness.

 I have read some recent emails from adjusting firm managers about receipt of such emails from adjusters that were  not called for as the result of an email they sent out on a conference or other details an adjuster may have disagreed with,etc.  We have also been advised by adjusters that they may have made the mistake of providing a personal email  address on a claim to get documents from a policyholder who may later have been upset with a settlement or denial.  Don’t feel that you have to sit back and do nothing about the poster or sender. There is MUCH info available by searching the cyber bullying term on sites such as google.

We hear of trainees abused on forums  so this information may be of interest to you also if you have experienced a problem. Most sites make use of forum moderators who quickly deal with problems and professional sites would not allow cyberbullying antics to begin with. I’m happy to find that my favorite forums for catastrophe adjusters has been very pro active in the past year or two in preventing such abuses(visit www.catadjuster.org today if you aren’t familiar with this excellent site. The archives are full of important cat adjusting information- just overlook some of the negative postings to find a wealth of information).

Adjusting firms and carriers will help you with these issues if you are an adjuster. Make sure you follow your adjusting firm’s email instructions as many do NOT want you using your email on claims for these very reasons. Find out what email address your adjusting firm is using for you in their electronic CMS system as many do use your email in assignment notifications to carriers and policyholders. You may want to create a seperate email address for all claim communications if you are required to use a personal one with your assignments so policyholders do not have your personal email account.

Another interesting fact learned during the course of this research indicates that cyberbullying does not even have to be direct emails sent to you but damaging emails sent about you by offenders.

Heck- it applies to all of us and our children whether in our personal or our professional lives. Many adjusters are gone from home months at a time serving on catastrophe duty and need to know how to keep our children safe when we cannot be available.

I’ve learned that the term cyberbullying is the name that applies to harassment on forums, blogs, emails, private messages, and other forms of electronic communication. Just enter the term “cyberbullying”  in your google search.  It is very interesting info to read about the developments in cyberbullying legislation. Alot of it pertains to kids. It was very sad to read that bullying with children has lead to suicides too. The good thing arising from this legislation is that law enforcement now does instruct cyberbullying educational seminars at schools today which will hopefully end this sad practice.

I’m posting this in the event anyone needs help tracking an email or reporting an abuser. First of all you can simply forward the abusive email to the senders ip service such as abuse@earthlink.net but here is some other good research found through some assistance we got from the IT firm we use with my business to locate such an email harasser  should you need to take it a step further:

Cyber bullying-Definition
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyber-bullying
 
US Computer Emergency Readiness Team
http://www.us-cert.gov/cas/tips/ST06-005.html 

Bully on line- Good article on the profile of a cyber bully. This article makes you realize how pathetic they are. Good instructions are also provided on how to respond if attacked by a cyber bully online or by email:

http://www.bullyonline.org/related/cyber.htm


Email tracker pro
http://www.emailtrackerpro.com/support/v6/headerstutorial.html


We tried the email tracker pro software.You can copy and paste the email properties in the abuser’s email  and it directs you right to the IP address on their computer. The one we tried directed us through the dynamic IP right to their REAL IP provider vs the one he/she sent the email through as well as to their city/state. It was very easy to narrow it down from there! You can get a free trial at http://www.emailtrackerpro.com to try it out! 


Here is the page where you can trace an email- it let me try it free copying the header from an abusive email received:
http://emailtrackerpro.visualware.com/
  What does this have to do with adjusters? Everything for the many of us who enjoy the many blogs, forums, and networking in these communities but are often witness to or victims of abuse to harassing private messages, emails, or forum posts. Don’t sit back but be proactive in putting a stop to cyberbullying. It’s the law. We cannot avoid the use of the internet or email with our jobs but we do need to learn to be safe in our ever growing electronic claim community which grows stronger every day with the growing use of electronic CMS (Claim management) programs. If you would like more information on this important topic for you, your firm, or your families, here are some great links:http://www.cyberbullying.us/links.php************

Postscript 8/3/07-Hilarious look at insulting remarks on this blog: You may find other things on this blog objectionable so view at your own risk. This “When insults had class” article is very funny and worth sharing though! What great comebacks for those insulting emails, forum post bashers, a blog harassment or nahhhhhhhhh going back to the profile of a cyberbully…they aren’t worth it!

 http://angryaussie.wordpress.com/2007/08/04/when-insults-had-class/