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.
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 adjuster! Inundated 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!