Possible Tornado in FL and MN on 9/20/07- Tropical Disturbance 93L

September 21, 2007

We received state of FL emergency alerts throughout the evening as high winds and tornado warnings went up in various FL counties as a result of the soon to be expected tropical storm passing through FL yesterday and today.

We are gathering damage assessment reports now on the storms. Thus far, Eustis, FL in Lake County FL is the area suffering the largest amount of property damage. Fox news is reporting only 50 homes damaged with 20 of those being uninhabitable. This will definitely not bring in the need for storm troopers. Many carriers such as State Farm and Liberty Mutual  have regional offices in the area in Orlando and Winterhaven,FL. The great news is there are no fatalities. Here is a link to an article coming from their local news.

There was also a possible tornado and definite storm damage in MN in many counties. Here is an article that summarizes the damage and also indicates they had large hail. Unfortunately, there has been 1 fatality with a 13 year old boy in this storm. Without reading more reports at this time, it is hard to assess what the need may be for independent adjusters but we will update this blog entry throughout the day as more becomes known.

You can continue to watch Florida tornado warnings throughout the day using this link here to state alerts for reports and of course following the NOAA storm reports for today and yesterday by using this link here to storm reports which is constantly updated.  The reports for 9/20/07 in this link do show hail in MN on 9/20 and wind damage reports from several FL counties. The FL county reports are already reporting many tropical storm alerts posted for panhandle counties for  subtropical storm depression ten. The first advisory was posted at 10am CDT.

Note that the Mineral Management Service website is reporting oil rigs and gas platforms in the Gulf are already undergoing evacuations in preparation for 93L possibly turning into a Tropical storm in the next few hours and Fox news is reporting possible tropical storm status or hurricane status later today on 93L currently being investigated. Here is a link to the top story on the Mineral Management website.

I sure hope we don’t lose power here later tonight in the panhandle! I’ll update this today if there are significant updates on damage assessment information from the 2 storms and to 93L warnings and progress today.

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Claims Magazine Claims Salary Survey is up..please participate!

August 24, 2007

We are honored that Claims Magazine, Managing Editor, Eric Gilkey has requested both ClaimSmentor participants and Dimechimes Corporation roster folks participate in the 17th annual survey on claim salaries. Feel free to pass this on to anyone participating in claims whether carrier personnel or independent adjusters. The more participants the better the results will be when we read the survey in the October 2007 issue. Please help make a difference in claim income for adjusters by taking this survey.

Here is the information from Eric:

Claims Magazine is currently conducting its 17th annual salary survey for claim professionals. The survey is meant to convey opinions and salary ranges for carrier and independent claim staff professionals, from adjusters to vice presidents. It’s meant to be a tool for industry professionals to use to compare their salaries to other professionals in the industry and get a snapshot into the industry’s current state. All salary figures will be kept confidential and are only used to tally results. Comments used in the write up will be ensured anonymity if used. To participate, go to www.claimsmag.com and look for the survey link under the breaking news section. 

Eric Gilkey

Managing Editor | Claims Magazine | Florida UnderwriterProgram Chair | Calif. Insurance Fraud SymposiumThe National Underwriter Company

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We had recently posted two different blog entries on adjuster income as found publicly on many websites and in the press here if you missed them. Here and Here

Thank you all in advance for participating in this survey.

 “Make things Happen” by participating!


Billingual Adjusters in Big Demand! Please update your resume if applicable! Translation services for others listed

August 17, 2007

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Billingual Adjusters in Big Demand

While I haven’t had time for a blog entry today, I wanted to remind adjusters that their Billingual skills are very important to carrier and adjusting firms. We have approximately 100 adjusters who have commented on it on their resume.

If you have billingual skills and that is not on your resume, please resend your resume asap to Debbie@Dimechimes.com and put Billingual in the subject field with your last name and state then make sure your resume includes your billingual information. Please make sure you have read our blog entry on adjusters resumes here before submitting information required for consideration.

You’d be amazed at how much that can increase your odds of deploying in some territories not only with our firm but with adjusting firms and carriers.We received a staffing request in 2005 that requested we deploy all licensed adjusters whether experienced or not that were billingual. The inexperienced were used in the adjusting firm and carriers offices as interpreters.

Should you not have billingual skills, you might find some of these services helpful if your adjusting firm does not have services available when communicating with an insured that does not speak English .Many experienced adjusters also advise they will hire local temps to travel with them to appointments to act as interpreters. Trainee adjusters- this may be the perfect opportunity for you to train with an experienced field adjuster by offering your billingual translation services as you ride along with them for training.

http://babelfish.altavista.com/

Translate text to spanish /other languages

Translate entire web page to other languages

*This was most interesting- try entering a web address in and watch it turn the site into another language!

Adjusting firms can add a link to Babel Fish that a customer can click on to interpret their website in many languages

http://www.wordreference.com/es/translation.asp?tranword=transfer+desk

English to Spanish translation dictionary

http://www.courtreportersnet.com/transcription.html

To transcribe a recorded statement spanish/english/others

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/10/18/tech/main2100781.shtml

Dial an Interpreter Service through AT and T

*I’ve used this before on claims

http://www.claimspages.com/documents/

Claimspages.com has many commonly used forms  and pattern letters in Spanish

http://www.languageline.com/page/welcome/

If you look on the Products and Services tab- this can be used by individuals who have infrequent needs (listed as personal service) and also another plan for businesses such as independent adjusting firms under the business plan.

We’ll add others next week. We hope everyone has a great weekend! See you Monday!

Please add comments in reply if you have other advice or contacts for billingual services to share..thanks!


Splish Splash don’t go takin’ a bath- Understanding independent firm contracts

August 12, 2007

 I love the way music so aptly expresses so many things going on in life and love to use songs that help express issues much better than words ever can.  It’s a light hearted way to remember a principle we’re trying to drive home for  adjusters. Last week, our claim song of the week was Peter, Paul, and Mary’s song “Where have all the flowers gone” as our theme song for adjusters on “where have all the claim files gone ” here in this blog. This week we’ll talk about splishin’ and a splashin’ out on your new assignments and delving through the terms in many independent contracts. Here’s the link to the Splishin’ and a Splashin’ lyrics so you can follow along!

Every storm season brings out some of the best and the worst of adjusting firms and  contracts. We hear of adjusters “takin’ a bath” on their fee payments over some of the contract issues and non payment issues going on with hopefully a small number of unscrupulous firms.

Here are links to two very good commentaries on contracts. The first  here  comes from a blog entry over on CADO made by a senior adjuster and this article  by Donny Greer of Gulf States Training at the University of North Texas who shared this article with us over at ClaimSmentor with permission to post it in our blog :

Selection of a CAT Firm or CAT Claims Company

by:  Donny Greer of GulfStates Insurance Training at University of North Texas

http://www.adjustereducation.org

CAT Firms or CAT Claims Companies come in all shapes, sizes and flavors.   Not to mention their expertise levels and experience in running a real business.  
This type of business model structure brings out the best of  people and unfortunately the worst.  

Here’s what I am saying:  

These types of firms are generally started and run by professionals who are truly educated and experienced in both business and the insurance field with an emphasis on claims processing.  By and large, these firms are honest, forth-coming, and are personally chartered to “do-the-right-thing”.   But as you know, each and every field has its wolves!

Firms that process claims for insurance carriers earn their keep by accepting under agreement a claims assignment report containing many claims, from ten to five hundred, maybe even into the thousands as is the case during a major storm.   These claims could be auto, home, business and even in some cases casualty claims.  These homeowner types of claims are then farmed out (contracted) to Independent Adjusters whom are then sent out on the adjustment path to glory.  At least that is how it starts out.   

When I/As (independent adjusters) take on these claims, they likewise do so under the control of a contract offered to them by the CAT Firm (firm).   This is where things can first start to erode.   First, you receive a call from some firm with whom you have earlier registered with.  Next they ask you to go to the distant site.   With all your excitement, you’re off and running.  Now all seems well.   

Soon on the site, you are usually required to attend a Storm Meeting held by the firm with the goal of orientating new adjusters.  This meeting is quite beneficial as this is the place where all information is conveyed to the adjusters now on-site.   Miss this meeting and you miss the boat on policies, procedures, introduction to storm support personnel and so on.  Sometimes unscrupulous CAT firms purposely wait until you are at the storm site, and have incurred expenses before they present you with a contract to sign.  Don’t sign, and you must go home.   Could this be a contract signed under duress?  

What? you Say! 

Any contract is necessary for you and the firm you are working for, as it is the sole document that list out your agreement to provide services and spells out expectations of both parties.   This is a good thing as Martha Stewart has Said a few times.   The problem is not all firms are looking out for the adjuster’s best interest.  Read on… 

Most of the better firms out there are good, honest and looking out for the adjuster, and ask the adjuster to sign the agreement prior to deployment and before you the IA incur expense, but some, want you to bring in money for them, and under a very strict agreement written with mainly their interest in mind.  These firms however, are only concerned with a fast buck, and a BIG BUCK at that.   

Be aware of any contract wording BEFORE you leave your home for a storm.   Do yourself a favor and read the contract they are asking you to sign, before you invest in doing business with a firm you don’t really know.   Never wait until you have arrived in Ft. Lauderdale, entrenched in a hotel, in debt. for a new laptop computer, and then review a contract!  Know before you GO! 

In reading the contract, look for clauses where you are waiving your right to sue in court.  Read carefully the section that covers the adjuster’s hold back portion (portion normally held back by the CAT firm until all claims have been paid and settled).   Know this percentage BEFORE you travel and begin working.  Holdback is normal and there is nothing wrong with this type of arrangement.   Just be aware of how a contract might address such an issue.    

Again:  KNOW WHAT YOU ARE SIGNING  AS BEST YOU CAN. 

CAT firms bill the carrier based on the gross amount of say one of your claims.   They publish to you a fee schedule showing how you earn a percent of the billing amount.   The billing figure being an arbitrary figure listed on the fee schedule.  Shown as a split, in some cases 40/60 with 40% for the firm and 60% for the adjuster.   One question that comes to mind is what is this percent actually a percent of?  It is a percent of what the firm says they are billing the carrier for the claim.  Fact is, you don’t really know the true amount of the billing from the CAT company to the carrier, only what you are shown on the fee schedule. Your fee schedule only reflects your percentage of some listed amount published for the sake of the fee schedule’s completeness.  You are only allowed to see and know what some limited number of these firms want you to see.   

Keep this in mind when shopping for a firm to work for.  A 40/60 split sounds good, but your 60% is 60% of what?  You should know this answer  before you get engaged with a firm and way before you travel on your dime to a storm site.  You just might be working for pennies, not knowing it, and lining the pockets of some unworthy CAT Firm.   Be wise to Check-It-Out.  And beware of ads that solicit adjusters with talk of 70/30 and 80-20 etc., etc., etc.   Without you knowing what this percentage works against, you might be actually working for less that other adjusters with splits of 40/60. 

Speak with other adjusters on adjuster web sites that post experiences from other more experienced adjusters.   Join some web site forums and ask other adjusters who the good companies are.   Check with the Secretary of State’s office in the state the CAT firm resides to see if they are in good standing as a corporation.    

The best way to check out a CAT firm is to ask seasoned adjusters on portal website forums.   Trust what they tell you,  its better information than no information at all. 

Watch out for CAT firms!  Most are good, but try not to get so absorbed in deployment, that you forget to tend to the basics of being a good business professional.   

Any truly good company would have no problem at all allowing you time to review a contract prior to deployment, and any truly good company would invite any questions you may have about their structure, their officers, and how long they have been in business.  

One more time:  MOST ARE GOOD AND HONEST. 

Donny Greer
Donny Greer of GulfStates Insurance Training at University of North Texas 

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Our Blog continued below:

Don’t go out their “reelin’ with the feelin’ and a movin’ and a groovin’ with your excitement at obtaining placement on a roster or receiving new assignments without getting this most important document finalized.

Already this year we are hearing from adjusters receiving independent contracts faxed or emailed to them that contain “blanks” in the contract forms for important things such as fee splits, holdbacks, etc.  We have reports from one group of adjusters attending recent seminars for carrier certifications that could not find one person in the adjusting firm office or at the conference that even knew who signed contracts for their firm nor could the adjusters get copies back signed by an AUTHORIZED person with the adjusting firm. The firm had no idea where they were filed and they were not with the adjuster’s personnel records they sent in.  We have other adjusters being told ” that’s ok on the blanks- we’ll fill those in later”.    Now what does that tell you? Hello????????

One of the concerning contract terms in many of this year’s contracts concerns fines assessed back to the adjuster. We haven’t seen any yet that spelled out what exactly those fines were or the dollar amounts involved although I’ve heard there are some out there with specifics. The Citizens FL RFP manual for the adjusting firms does outline the many $1,000 fines to be assessed to adjusting firms yet the companion independent contracts the selected vendors have that we have viewed only indicated “any fines assessed will be passed on to the adjuster” type clauses. You need to have specifics in writing.

How about the non compete clauses? We saw one firm’s contract last year that didn’t allow adjusters to work for any other adjusting firm in the Southeast USA for 2 years! You need to check with your attorney regarding the validity of such non compete clauses in your state. I see many postings from adjusters giving advice about those “not holding up” in court. We’ll see. I’m monitoring the development of a suit file right now over in Alabama that was recently filed in June and we’ll link to it as things develop beyond the initial complaint and answers as well as searching for other cases involving adjusters and adjusting firms. We welcome any links if you are aware of any others.Don’t believe that the firms won’t enforce them! They are there for a reason and you need to abide by these contract agreements you sign.

We are looking for a good employment contract attorney willing to volunteer some time to look at a few of the examples of contracts we have to provide some general advice to adjusters if you know of anyone interested.  We’ll post their advice and links to their services both here on our blog and in the ClaimSmentor forums.  We are seeing simple contracts about 2 pages long to hearing reports of some in excess of 18 pages long. BE CAREFUL about what you are signing.

We recommend you seriously consider these terms in contracts and consider running all contracts by your attorney. I am not an advocate of “forum advice” posts being your sole venue of information on something so important as an independent contract. In my never ceasing quest to get insurance carriers and state insurance departments to help protect adjusters, I’d like to suggest if they aren’t doing so that carriers exam the independent contracts that adjusting firms give to their adjusters. It is not enough that the carrier sign a contract with the adjusting firm outlining their expectations but they should get involved in making sure that independents are not being taken advantage of in the independent contracts with the adjusters. Is it the “employee” versus “independent issue” keeping them from doing so? If so, state Insurance Departments need to establish acceptable standards for acceptable terms adjusting firms can use and have a published area on all state insurance department sites that list adjusting firms and their complaint ratios just as they do for consumers to determine what a carrier’s complaint ratio is before buying an insurance policy. I have a real problem with the fact a carrier has first hand knowledge of firms they have fired for poor claim service yet where do they publish that information for other carriers to avoid using them or for adjusters protection in accepting assignments for such a firm? They would fear being sued I’m sure but if the Department of Insurance required this they’d have to report it. I cannot stress enough we need to improve the communication gaps in the independent adjusting community for the protection and preservation of our careers.

Effective dates, Hold Harmless terms, Fee Schedules, Fee Splits, Payment terms (before or after carrier pays?), Witholding provisions(how much they withhold as well as how long), Non Compete Clauses, Venue (City/State/Court?)for where any disputes are handled, Other provisions such as Arbitration of Disputes, Fines to be assessed to you, information on who provides the Errors and Omissions Coverage, and many other important terms.. Seek your attorney’s advice BEFORE signing such provisions if you are in doubt.

We have many adjusters who sign contracts but then do not ask for a copy of the contract back after an AUTHORIZED person with the firm has signed it. We had a large group of over 30 adjusters working for one firm in 05 who could not pursue legal action for non payment on over 90 days of work as they had never gotten back a signed copy of their contracts showing any agreements between them and the adjusting firm. ASK for a copy of the Independent contract up front before you leave home as Donny points out above. If the vendor tells you they will sign them at the induction center, make sure you have two original copies with you and sign both and request they sign both and take one with you and keep it in a safe place in case you need it later. This will help you  avoid running into those situations where the “gathering” place has no facilities or staff to give you a copy on the spot.

Don’t assume because it is a large well established adjusting firm that you are safe signing their contracts. We have reports from several adjusters that contracts they assigned with a large vendor signed for Katrina duty contained 60% fee split agreements yet the payments received were 40% and they were then told that the 60% only applied to experienced adjusters. I’m curious if this would hold up in court since the fill in the blank could be twisted on the 60/40..is that 60 to you or 60 to the adjusting firm….we don’t know if it’s not specified in the contract right? Folks, that is not what their contract said. Make sure the fee split does apply to YOU and not termed “in general fee splits are….”.

Go movin’ and a groovin’ this storm season with the comfort of knowing you are protected if you encounter one of the tough situations with a non paying adjusting firm. Splishin’ and a Splashin’ just isn’t the way to handle business contracts professionally! Put those “dancin’ shoes on” AFTER you have properly prepared for accepting new assignments! We hope you will pass the word on to other new adjusters so they don’t go “takin’ a bath” this season!


Are Adjusters Fungible Units? Are Independent adjusters a dying breed?

August 2, 2007

Hmmmmmmmmm an interesting concept!

First, let’s define fungible and fungibility for those who aren’t familiar with these words which have become quite  amusing  for some lawyers as shown by the tee shirts and mugs available here regarding their own affectionate term for themselves as Fungible Billing Units. Adjusters also often bill on time and expense billing keeping up with their billable hours on a claim file so this could apply to us too….or does it?

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Fungibility is the property of a good or a commodity, that its individual units are capable of mutual substitution: different instances / units of the same type of good, make no difference

http://www.thefreedictionary.com/fungible

Fungible, Fungibles fun·gi·ble play_w(“F0364400”)adj.

1. Law Returnable or negotiable in kind or by substitution, as a quantity of grain for an equal amount of the same kind of grain.

2. Interchangeable.

n.

Something that is exchangeable or substitutable. Often used in the plural.


[Medieval Latin fungibilis, from Latin fung (vice), to perform (in place of).]

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Rumsfeld referred to our American troops as being fungible units while discussing an extension of their deployments to Iraq. You can view an  interesting article here referring to that comment. I particularly refer you to  comments made in this 2004 article:

“His vocabulary seems to reveal the mindset of a corporate efficiency expert, focused in an era of “downsizing” on reducing the “head counts” of “full-time equivalents” and their pesky benefit packages.”

Does this properly describe the way staff adjusters are feeling in a world of corporate downsizing of field operations with movement to claim central operations? How about independent adjusters who are sorely missing personal relationships with some adjusting firms and carriers as they are replaced by the in office fungibles with little to no training by comparison to the months and years of  training experienced adjusters were formerly given?

More importantly, how is our most important commodity- the insured- feeling about the team adjuster concept as insurers require a homeowner discuss various components of their claims (building damage, personal property damage, additional living expenses, and more) with a multitude of adjusters versus the  experience of face to face personal field inspection by adjusters fully competent to handle ALL aspects of their claim? You say this is nothing new “we’ve been doing this for years on the auto side of claims”. This is NOT the same as the practice in auto claims where the property damage to the car was handled by a property adjuster and the bodily injury claims for the person they hit were handled by the BI unit. In those cases there were 2 entirely different parties involved in the claim-not just the insured as far as the “damages” were concerned.

Is 24/7/365 service really better serving our customers when the quality of the service is reduced? Ahhhhhhhh….. customer service that never sleeps but when will we wake up to the fact that  more is not always better and that 24/7/365 is harming  our independents and employees and the families who deal with poor health issues of their loved one as they suffer the many  negative implications of shift work. This article explains the aftermath of shift schedules on one’s health in the long run. Imagine if shift work can cause  such health issues what the consequences  must be for adjusters working 7 days a week for a minimum of 12 hours per day as required on storm assignments and the damage done to the quality of life for the members of our community. All adjusters  in this industry have shared the experience of a carrier requiring they work  Thanksgiving and Christmas and most major holidays with no time for rest or time with family during catastrophe operations although relationships and health suffer as a result. We have also experienced the cycles of change as we move back and forth between phone service and field service to our customers. We know your customer service findings may show satisfaction with this service but that is NOT what we hear in the field as the face of the insurance company.

Author Jonathan Stein, JD discusses the lack of training and experience in this excellent article shared by Roy Cupps in the Articles section on his site at www.catadjuster.org. Don’t you think this says it all? This article further points out it’s a myth that adjusters are leaving the industry which we further discussed  here in our blog earlier this week while talking about the number of emergency adjuster licenses issued in FL and independent licenses in TX. With these large numbers, are we getting the experience level we need or just adding to the quality service problems by not properly training new adjusters entering our industry? How could we be needing “warm bodies” as adjusters often comment with numbers such as these? When you require 3 years of experience to send in independents during a crisis, why are you handling a large portion of your losses with  claim central adjusters new in the field driving experienced adjusters out of this business?

Experienced field adjusters know they aren’t a fungible commodity and there is no fungibility or mutual substitution of services between claim central operations and field personal services. We would just like to know when the carriers will wake up to this reality. We’ve all experienced the “measure to the inch” mentality of carrier reinspection departments for field adjusters while at the next assignment  in claim central environments we hear the in office adjusters comment  ” let me round that up an extra few feet to be sure it covers your expenses”. What are they thinking? All insureds and all claims need to be handled equally by qualified experienced adjusters while also providing for training opportunities for trainee adjusters both in the independent and staff adjusting fields. You can’t treat insureds within the same carrier differently depending on whether it is a phone settlement or a physical inspection. You can’t replenish retiring independents your firms count on when you do not allow newer adjusters to train with field  independent personnel or cross train with your personnel.

This CPCU poll shows the number one concern CPCU’s have is that the  insurance industry will soon be facing massive retirements of the baby boomer generation leaving us with a shortfall of qualified personnel. If we want to be proactive we can’t just talk about this but should join our endeavors to replenish the field through mentoring programs like ours at ClaimSmentor  for online assistance or field programs like the National Association of Catastrophe Adjusters (NACA) apprentice program. It isn’t enough just to offer mentoring within your carrier offices although it is commendable and encouraging to see some of the many programs like this mentor effort by Gail Soja of Chubb Custom Insurance in NJ.This 2007 Women to Watch article can be found at www.BusinessInsurance.com .

What else can be done to help those newly licensed adjusters outside of your offices to open opportunities and encourage their development? As adjusters, our concerns are not with your community bike rodeos, basketball tournament sponsorships, and car race sponsorship ads. Our concerns are with development and treatment of both staff and independent adjusters. Invest in us. We are a major part of your customer service program. We study your summer intern programs for college students but why not include the adult changing career fields? There are independents out here who are licensed, have Xactimate and other software classes, have taken many carrier certification exams to work your cat losses as well as other valuable training yet you continue to hire trainees with no license while these folks with an interest in beginning carrier adjusting careers can’t get their foot in the door. Why do you not advertise to appeal to them when you need entry level adjusters instead of the campus career fairs?

Adjusters are worried they will be replaced by the use of technology like aerial photography discussed in these articles here  and here. While their experience tells them it takes an adjuster to count the hail hits and an adjuster to meet face to face to handle coverage issues versus an unlicensed estimator, they see the writing on the wall that tools such as this can be used by carriers with claim central operations, estimators, and preferred contractors.

Do  studies reflect the change from field operations to claim central operations is reducing the cost per premium dollar to handle claims further reducing premiums for policyholders nationwide? Not based on any news articles we are reading about rate increases due to the storm seasons of 2004 and 2005! If so, point us in the right direction to review the current studies so we understand your position. How do your yearly average settlement figures per cause of loss compare today under these claim central operations to average settlement figures per cause of loss with your former field operations? We’d like to know and we are sure the average insurance consumer would also.

It would be great to see improvement in the independent community as well. Independent adjusters we speak with no longer feel like “core” adjusters for many firms. They are tired of the fee based conference  circuits and expenses in the yearly spring rounds to get noticed only to be herded into rooms with massive numbers of adjusters and placed on rosters without the first personal conversation with some firms before being activated. They want to gain the education and dedicate themselves as core adjusters to your firms but no one is committing to them in reverse because you cannot. The carriers haven’t committed to you and in cases where there are established relationships between carriers and vendors, there are no guarantees on file assignments or which order they stand  among the many firms the carrier is contracted with. Is there any wonder why there is such a duplication of names on adjusting firm rosters? This leaves the adjusting firms in a quandry each  and every storm not knowing who they can rely on to actually deploy since adjusters are on multiple rosters because they have no personal relationship and open dialogue with you. As your HR personnel changes, so do the contacts the adjusters have with your offices so even core adjusters in many cases aren’t the ones getting “the call”. New adjusters are amazed to learn their resume listing their experience is not shared with the carrier and do not understand when they are sometimes told not to disclose those experience levels with anyone at the carrier. Adjusters are also forbidden by some firms to ask any questions of a carrier staff employee but rather to go to the adjusting firm for answers. There are great reasons to do so if there is someone available for help at your firm but other times it would  more efficiently serve the insured to get a prompt final answer rather than go through the levels of command via the adjusting firm to carrier when they could simply make one call to the carrier and resolve a pending issue.

Together… staff, independents, and carrier executives need to study these issues and help preserve the quality of  customer service in our industry.

Then again ….. we can sit back and just wait for the newly announced Senate Panel Cat Issues Commission to tell us what those of us with first hand experience can address better.  See the announcement here.  How about the new federal recommendations on the 2007 Multi Peril Act?

Are we all following the discussions about seperate adjusters being discussed to handle the NFIP and wind loss claims versus adjusters managed by carriers in the house committee meetings causing havoc again with insureds required to deal with 2 adjusters leading to miscommunication on coverages? What has history taught us about this?

We all are well aware of the the reasons the single adjuster concept was developed to avoid the confusion for an insured having to deal with multiple adjusters. In fact, you can read  an example, the FL Condo Statute Chapter 718. This Statute shows who bears responsibility for various building components and elements  which now eliminates the mass confusion which used to be experienced by the insured when the Master policy adjuster differed in opinion with the unitowner adjuster or the by laws for the Association were not clear? Are we going to let these committees make decisions requiring we return to those days of misunderstandings between two adjusters creating delays for insureds on wind/water issues to resolve these kind of differences or move forward?

Let’s return to the Johnathon Stein, JD article  where he comments he is not speaking out about training and industry issues to create conflict but to “recognize a problem, open dialogue, offer possible solutions to try to restore the professionalism to adjusters”. We too are attempting to open much needed dialogue between our independent operations and your carrier plans. It is not enough to share this with your selected vendors. Share your goals and plans with the adjusting community at large so we know and don’t leave the industry if you plan to use us. Be more independent adjuster user friendly.

A great example of communication gaps with independents is the Citizens FL initative with the 45 selected vendors. While an independent can locate the announcement of the selections in a list on your purchasing link should they search hard enough, the list contained several incorrect adjusting firm names. Many adjusters following up for website and email addresses to apply for these jobs were told Citizens did not maintain such a list for independents although their task force committee and board meeting notes clearly say their intention is to use over 6,000 independent adjusters to handle their claims. This could have been simply handled by posting on the Citizen’s job opportunities on your website that you were looking for 6,000 independents and how they could apply with the 45 listed adjusting firms by posting this website and email information for each HR department at the adjusting firms. How about the possibility that Citizens could have accepted resumes through your system and sent a copy of each Independent applicants resume through a resume “rabbit” system which would have notified each vendor who then could contact the adjusters inviting them to meetings and for deployment opportunities. It also would have avoided mass confusion problems regarding the required pre-orientation meetings as adjusters are getting conflicting messages out here. We hope this is not a sign of what the now largest carrier in FL with 1.3 million policies is to deliver by way of claim service during storm season should a hurricane strike our state. Talk about needing a wake up call! What private insurer in the United States would ever be allowed to have a ratio like 60-70 staff to 6,000 independents? Will this not be a bad dream for all Floridians this coming year? Just visit the task force site and Citizens report here  for  these figures showing their current staff employee numbers.

See-it’s simple! We know we are not your employees but if you want to use us, each carrier can simply post this information and which vendors are serving you. Don’t assume adjusters know. Many do not. It would be impossible at this point for an adjuster to know which adjusting firms serve which carriers so they know where to apply. It’s not that the industry has “run out” of experienced adjusters. You just are not communicating your needs effectively to us as these examples show. We are doing the best we can trying to keep up with the many seminars and adjusting firms on ClaimSmentor for you but this should never have been necessary if it was clearly posted on the carrier website. If you want to build a complete puzzle, you need all of the pieces to put it together.

Carriers….have you considered using your marketing departments to poll independents who service your claims to get their anonymous input as to vendor feedback, training they are getting,  timeliness of adjuster fee bill payments,etc to put a stop to some of the poor practices in the independent adjuster field? Who knows better than the independents working with these vendors for a true picture of which adjusting firms should be used? It’s not uncommon to hear adjusters say “I just cannot believe carrier X is using adjusting firm Y “because they know the positives and negatives of each firm they have worked for. Ask for their opinions, they will gladly give it should you protect their identity so that are not run out of the adjusting community. The same goes with polling them about their experience while adjusting claims for your carrier. They can provide valuable input into the quality of claim handling instructions they were given, the treatment by your claim managers, and insight into issues they hear with your insureds on customer service out in the field.

Independent adjusters have no clear avenue for recovery of adjusting fee bills when they are not paid. Why do state insurance departments not post complaint stats for adjusting firms working in your state so adjusters can avoid these issues by not working for an unscrupulous firm to begin with?

Let’s make this a priority to save our industry before independents leave so we service customers the way we know it should be done. We don’t want to be considered Fungible Units  any more than the families of  troops appreciated those comments. What we do want to do is restore adjusters to valued members of the insurance community along with considering work/ life issues to enhance relationships at home along the way. Let’s walk the talk and move forward before these new government programs destroy our profession and service to policyholders. We know they are not better for the customer but we must band together and take action. Let’s “Make Things Happen” in the adjusting community to improve opportunities for valued members.

Postscipt 8/3/07: This Bloomberg article  just issued is an outstanding example of how we are being perceived by the public. The article discusses loss ratios, carrier executive comments on claim processes, and technology changes in the industry. See our earlier  blog on 2nd quarter results here which spell out why the loss ratio and profits may be higher as the number of claims received in the 2nd quarter of 2007 are the 2nd lowest received in a 2nd quarter in 10 years. If you have the time, there are several good video links at the top right side of the Bloomberg article to include a video interview of Robert Hartwig explaining from the carrier side of things why this article is wrong. Great stuff in both the article and the interviews!


Where have all the claim files gone …long time passing?

August 1, 2007

How many of you remember Peter, Paul, and Mary’s song “Where  have all the flowers gone….long time passing”? Here are the lyrics if you are too young to remember it. We hear the adjusters version of this regularly after the almost non existent storm season of 2006 and the slow 2007 season in their version of “where have all the claim assignments gone…long time passing”. There are cycles in the claims business just as we have cycles in life shown in this song. The problem is, we as adjusters,  are used to the field versus in office cycles and not such drastic changes in file assignment numbers.

It’s not just your imagination. Here are some 2nd quarter report figures from some important organizations now that the statistics are coming along for the end of the past quarter. First, we have the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies(NAMIC) reporting that ISO statistics show it’s the second lowest number of catastrophes in a 2nd quarter in the past 10 years in this report. You can also see the Crawford and Company 2nd quarter press release here also reporting a significant drop in 2007 US losses.

In our claim version of this tune, we hear of those gone on to the FL My Safe home Project as inspectors and some who attempted to work in the LA Road2LA program who didn’t fair as well as stories like this one shows they faced some of the same non payment issues that some adjusters have experienced. We have adjusters nationwide attending the 45 selected vendors pre-orientation meetings as the first 50% of their roster lists had to be in 7/31/07  to Citizens of FL while many others have taken their NFIP, CEA, and carrier certifications at the yearly conferences for so many adjusting firms. It’s always nice to hear from fellow adjusters on some great daily assignments they’ve picked up after being selected to stay for carrier clean up activities then given the opportunity to remain to work some daily claims for the carriers too. That alone goes to show it does serve you and your adjusting firm well when you do a professional job on assignments. Some of my favorite adjusters keep me up to date on their activities including travel to London to work flood assignments while I hear from another about working claims for banks and those doing underwriting inspections also.

Hopefully, we’ll all be singing a new tune..my favorite catastrophe adjuster song “On the Road Again” by Willie Nelson soon as claim activity picks back up with the approaching peak of hurricane season. We certainly don’t wish harm or damage to anyone but catastrophe adjusters are a dedicated group of individuals ready to serve the public when the inevitable does occur!

We hope any readers who are policyholders will come to appreciate their struggles, training preparation activities, and strengths as you follow our new blog! There has been entirely enough bad press about adjusters in the wake of Katrina and entirely too little press about the sacrifices these adjusters make in their personal lives to travel nationwide to handle claims for our US citizens. They do not create policies but are often shot as the messenger while delivering sometimes bad news on coverage issues such as the wind and water debates from hurricane damage. Let’s work with them this year and realize that just as a dentist or doctor must deliver bad news to us…so are adjusters required to. It is much easier for them to provide coverage than deny coverage but they must fulfill the terms and conditions of the insurance contract in force at the time of loss as well as follow carrier directives on loss handling guidelines.

See you soon… for now…..I’m on the road again……………or was I off to check to see where have all the flowers have gone?


How much income can I make as an adjuster?

July 26, 2007

  Web Tag: Insurance Adjuster Pay

We often receive the question from new adjusters about the amount of income a staff adjuster or an independent adjuster or a catastrophe adjuster can make. Many forums say this topic is taboo to speak about it on public forums.

Here are many articles found on public websites for your informational purposes for those of you exploring careers in this profession.

I’ll be posting in this blog later about pros and cons of staff adjusting versus being an independent adjuster. I continue to be amazed teaching online classes on ClaimSmentor how many adjusters have misconceptions about the freedom associated with being an independent because they really have no experience yet with the expectations of carriers for independent adjusters handling their claims….so check back often for updates on many topics!

This first article is by National Underwriter Claims Magazine now managing Editor, Eric Gilkey “Overwork/Underpaid”:

http://www.claimsmag.com/cms/Claims/Monthly%20Issues/Issues/2006/10/Features/…

Here is also the latest Bureau of Labor statistics report on Adjuster pay:http://www.bls.gov/oco/pdf/ocos125.pdf

Here is one more salary link for you:

http://www.umsl.edu/services/govdocs/ooh20022003/ocos125.htm

Here you will find a link to an interesting formula used by an adjusting firm for figuring independent pay! Let us know how accurate you think this could be!

http://www.imsclaims.com/compensation.htm

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**Update 8/14/07- Here’s another site with adjuster income projections:

http://adjusterstraining.com/library/IncomeProjections.pdf

Make sure you also review our 8/14/07 blog on Adjuster fees in the News for deductions from this gross income type of a listing.

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It is very hard to pinpoint an “average” salary or compensation for an independent adjuster. There are many many variables such as the number of files assigned, the tight zoning of assignments in a territory or much travel involved between appointments, the fee schedules of the carriers and the fee split with the adjusting firm. Also, variables exist as to which expense items independent adjusting firms take a fee split on such as mileage, photos, tolls, and other items from the gross fee schedule billings. The net income to an  independent adjuster also varies greatly based on their temporary housing expenses at a cat site, gas expenses depending on travel from home and then site to site,etc..so there is no cut and dry answer but hopefully these well researched articles may give you some indication. Be leary of the ads and rumors you hear about those earning high dollars. While there certainly are those who do earn those figures based on years of expertise, there is no guarantee of such income. All independents can vouch for that after the slow 2006 storm season!