Organization Chart for the Claims Handling Blame Game- A Humorous Graph -A Serious Look at Claim Bad Faith IssuesMarch 6, 2009
Adjusters are reporting receipt of numerous standby emails from adjusting firms nationwide with the impending arrival of TS Fay early this week. Many are headed to Citizens of FL duty already in preparation for the arrival of TS Fay.
Here is the latest of hurricane advisories based on the 5am advisory. The storm is moving more east than originally expected and this link shows the projected path:
We will continue to update the blog later today as our staffing firm also receives standby requests for adjusters on our rosters. Watch for updates late today.
Please send your resumes to Dimechimes Claims Staffing and Claim Training should you need to update your resume or wish consideration for opportunities to deploy as they become available. All contact information is found on the About page here on the blog.
We have received a supplemental request (original was 4/11/08-click here for all details on prior blog post on the opportunity) for TX licensed (resident or non resident) adjusters who do HAVE their Nationwide Insurance carrier certification exam. Please see the prior link for all necessary information for consideration. We do need the approximate date of your Nationwide passing exam as well as the name of the vendor you took the exam through as the adjusting firm we are staffing firm must verify with Nationwide that you have completed their certification. No exceptions can be made. Last week we received resumes from some outstanding experienced adjusters but they did NOT have the Nationwide certification thus we were not able to submit their information for this particular opportunity.
We do welcome all applicants for future opportunities but for this particular one- the Nationwide certification AND the experience requirements must be met for consideration. All others- please just specify in the subject area of your email that you are requesting roster placement.
Note that a 5.4 Earthquake has hit today in Illinois, we’ll have more information up on that soon as well as posting information throughout the week on any additional staffing requests so check back often.
We have an immediate need for TX licensed (resident or non resident) EXPERIENCED adjusters who have prior assignment experience working field HAIL claims AND are NATIONWIDE certified ALREADY to handle claims immediately for the TX storms. I can’t make any exceptions to the prior HAIL experience requirement nor the Nationwide certifications.
If you wish consideration, send your resume to Debbie@Dimechimes.com . This request is currently for 5 experienced adjusters and may expand to more very shortly. We are getting a mass distribution email out to our Dimechimes Corporation roster folks as well as posting this to experienced adjusters who are members of ClaimSmentor so please submit the information immediately should you wish consideration.
Due to the number of storms, we are expecting additional requests so feel free to also submit your resume if you wish consideration for other requests we may receive. We are requiring current 2008 resumes for all seeking consideration. You can find a complete listing of information we require on your resume here:
***Update 4/18/08- We have received a supplemental request for additional adjusters to go on standby for the Dallas, Tx area due to additional storms. We must have information in your cover email that specifies approximately when you took and successfully passed your Nationwide Insurance certification exam and through which vendor in addition to your 2008 resume with 2 current references. The vendor we are staffing for must verify with Nationwide that you did successfully certify before they can deploy you.
Adjuster Safety- Another warning- March 08- Nationwide Adjuster Shot in Vehicle in TN while on Storm DutyApril 10, 2008
In September 2007, I’d blogged to alert adjusters about safety concerns with a reminder about a Tampa, FL adjuster murdered in the line of work. Here is a link to that prior blog:
Today with the news all around us of storms in TX, AR, OK and other states as the storm is moving, it’s time to unfortunately remind everyone again but this time by a news story which happened in March 2008 in Jackson,TN when a Nationwide adjuster was shot in his vehicle and his laptop stolen. I have no additional details other than that as listed in this news article. A forum post on another site last month reported the adjuster died. I do not know if that is fact or rumor but the story alone is another warning to all adjusters to watch your surroundings and stay extremely concerned about your safety. I pray the adjuster involved did recover. Let us know if you know the actual outcome of this horrible story.
Here is a link to the story that ran in the Jackson Sun on March 27, 2008:
Our thoughts and prayers are with this adjuster and/or his family as he recovers.
Communication issues for adjusters are major during the initial stages of a catastrophe when insureds need us the most. There are some interesting articles and both good and poor advice on dealing with both issues.
Here’s a great article on phoning home during an emergency and the problems with cellphone coverage when there is widespread usage such as during the MN bridge collapse.We are all aware of the major problems adjusters faced during the first few weeks dealing with Katrina claims. This article mentions the number of people having to revert to phone booth usage which prompts us to remind you to purchase a long distance phone usage card prior to leaving home in the event you too will have to be using them. During the aftermath of hurricanes Ivan and Dennis, it was impossible to find them at Walmart and Sam’s so don’t leave home without one if your heading to a major catastrophe. Read the card information terms before purchasing it as many of the cards you find at the local gas stations charge unreasonable usage fees even if you do not connect with the call. My favorite are the cards from Sam’s Club and Walmart as the rates are most reasonable and you can refill them as necessary. Here’s a link to the Sam’s cards you can purchase on line.
Catastrophe adjusters are familiar with the many communication problems experienced while dealing with cellphone coverage outages and finding available temporary housing at hotels with rooms left with high speed internet services needed to upload large file documents to close out your files. During Katrina, we had adjusters sitting in their cars in parking lots where they could pick up “hot spots” or in internet cafes with large numbers of adjusters trying to log in to download CMS (claim management system) new file assignments, upload inspection documents, and to check their email for important instructions from their adjusting firms and carriers. It is quite challenging to meet deadlines for first contact calls and file closure quotas given the communication problems during the the initial stages of a storm.
Cellphone expenses for independent adjusters are major. You can reduce your long distance expenses through the use of internet phone services by using internet based phone services sponsored by such firms as Packet8 or Vonage. We couldn’t live without ours! They charge a monthly flat rate for long distance charges without regard to time of day in the US and Canada. Packet8 allows us to take our wireless box and Packet8 box with us and use it with any high speed cable box nationwide while out of town for meetings. Folks calling you don’t have to keep up with ever changing phone numbers and don’t even realize your not at your home/business location. It allows us to stay in communication constantly with customers. A great function of these services is receipt of your voice mail messages via email to maintain records of calls received and to listen to the messages right over your computer. These services generally run less than $40.00 per month for unlimited 24/7 phone coverage with some plans for residential service as low as $14.99 per month.
While viewing these sites, be sure to look at the virtual number options which also allow you to set up a virtual number in your hometown so your family members can reach you on storm by calling a local number saving on their cellphone minutes and long distance charges as well. They also allow you to set up a virtual number in the city where you are assigned on a catastrophe so your insureds are not incurring long distance charges to your out of state cellphone if your coming in from another area. The calls forward directly to your primary number so you aren’t giving out a phone number that won’t be in service once you depart from duty.
These programs are outstanding for adjusting firms such as the Packet8 Business plan allowing you to continue to add phones to your virtual office numbers as your staff increases during peak storm periods. They allow you to transfer calls between office members as if you were still working in the same office even though members may be spread apart nationwide at different storm locations. We just can’t say enough good things about considering these services to reduce your phone expenses.
This interesting article about “My First Storm” should help prepare new adjusters for what to expect as far as call volume during phase one of storm duty and is very realistic. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) reports in this study that delays are the top reason for Department of Insurance Complaints. As a former claims manager, I can assure you that delays and failure to return phone calls, failure to promptly call insureds within the first 48 hours of assignment receipt, and failure to call insureds and keep them up to date on their file status leads to poor performance evaluations, Department of Insurance complaints, and often involve your claim manager and executives in the home office. Complaints such as these should be avoided by disaster preparedness plans that include planning for these expected communication problems. If the article linked to above is news to you as a new adjuster about phone call volume, we highly recommend our 40 hour Fundamentals of Claims class at ClaimSmentor where we hold a mock disaster zoning and assignment session teaching you how to deal with a large influx of claims and managing them wisely to meet customer services deadlines, carrier goals, and to plan for carrier quotas for inspections and closings based on severity while at the same time dealing with the realities that hamper your efforts such as communication issues. This article by Mariposa LTD also provides excellent time management advice regarding appointments and calls.
Postings on many adjuster forum websites tell other adjusters to use disposable phones such as a Tracphone while out on cat then dispose of it when they depart the cat. First of all, the minutes for those disposable phones are too costly. More importantly,we strongly discourage such use. It’s important you check with your carrier to see if they allow this. I cannot imagine one carrier who would agree with this proposal just as they do not want you having mail sent to your hotel room. The insured needs contact information that is valid for the adjusting firm and/or carrier long after you have finished your assignment. Most carriers expect you to have calls come through their 1-800 service. This avoids communication complaints when adjusters depart the cat site and the insured is getting a disconnected number because you gave out a temporary number. Many of these 1-800 services will produce electronic phone messages that will be delivered to your email service or dropped in your basket each day along with other carrier or adjusting firm messages, files assignments and the like.
Carrier managers are alerted to complaint messages regarding adjusters not returning phone calls. That is considered unacceptable and you won’t find a claims manager able to support you for a volume of these types of complaints. Over the years, we’ve witnessed adjusters great at estimating but with poor customer service skills sent home.
You can also check with your adjusting firm as many firms are becoming much more proactive setting up adjuster voice mail services. In either case, be sure you are checking in regularly for your messages so important calls are handled promptly. All carriers expect that calls will be returned within 24 hours. You can just imagine a bad faith attorney deposing you on a claim to find out you’ve been using a temporary “throw away” phone number…..definitely not a good idea.
While the forums are fun and informative, there is often information dispensed that would not meet the most basic of carrier guidelines. It’s most important you get your instructions straight from your adjusting firm manager and the carrier, not from your field associates or forum buddies. Find out directly from your managers what phone number you should be giving out and not only the number but the mailing address you should be using on all communication such as estimate headers.
Carriers prefer you not give out your business cards from home which many adjusters do because they have their cellphone number on them. We’ve had adjusters give out contruction company and other private business cards from home as it was the only card they had with their cellphone number. The carriers have temporary business cards for your use (fill in the correct contact info on these temporary cards) to provide information if you just check upon arrival at your assignment. You should not be providing your personal business cards but carrier professional business cards only.
Safety is a very important reason for using your firms phone contact information. Adjusters should never be giving out their hotel number with their room as the extension to insureds or contractors. Stories abound of angry insureds showing up at adjusters hotel rooms late in the evening as they could easily locate them when the hotel phone service identifies the name of the hotel when the customer calls back for you unless your room has direct incoming phone service.
We’ll address additional NAIC complaint issues mentioned in the article above in the next few weeks to help you understand how to avoid such complaints. Managers understand you work in a complex field where complaints are going to happen as you have to handle claims on coverage issues, policy limits and other contract settlement terms and policy conditions.They will support you when dealing with calls they get from policyholders as long as you are properly doing your job. They cannot support you when they are valid consumer complaints caused by failure to return calls, delays in contacts and inspecteds, and delays in calling insureds on other customer service issues.
Be safe out there and reduce your phone expenses this storm season by disaster planning for options available to reach insureds when the cell phone may not be the best option.