March 1, 2009 Announcement to ClaimSmentor and Dimechimes Claim Staffing Roster members- Change in Claim Industry Services

March 2, 2009

 

 

To: All ClaimSmentor Participants/Dimechimes Claim Staffing Roster Members by email
Re: Announcement on Claim Community Services

We would like to announce effective on March 1, 2009 that our staffing firm and
training services will be transitioning our services to 100% Claim Education and
Claim Training services through the following website locations:

The following three sites allow you different forms for your claim career professional
development based on your preferred preference for forums or online education
needs:

1) Our main website for our clearing house to our training information on different sites is  Dimechimes Claims Staffing and Claim Training . We offer Claims Education services, support for professional training sources in the claims industry, Claim Career Coaching for new adjusters who wish individual counseling advice, Resume Preparation Services for Adjusters, Mock Interview preparation for adjusters preparing for their first insurance claims interview for staff  adjuster positions or independent daily adjuster opportunities.

This is also our site for contact for claim staffing and claim recruiting needs by Independent adjusting firms and insurance carriers.

Our goal is progressive growth as an information highway to all available professional sources of training both online and in the field.

2 ) Dimechimes ClaimSmentor Adjuster Information Blog open to the public. This was opened in July 2007 for the many in the claims industry who do not enjoy membership in website forums and wish to retain their privacy while at the same time enjoy updates on hot topics in the claims industry while also locating valuable training sources.

3) We offer ClaimSmentor Forums, Discussion groups, field training study groups, information for trainees to network with experienced adjusters. Links to all opportunities we know about for carrier certification requirements, upcoming adjusting firm seminars,
information about 100% of the online information we can find for online training opportunities for new and experienced adjusters,adjuster licensing information and much more.

Anyone that is a member of our  rosters is welcome to join  us at  ClaimSmentor without the need to provide other registration documents. Is all you need to do is reply to this email with your full name, city, and state and
we will check this information against our rosters and confirm membership by notifying you by email within 10 days of  receipt of your email what your login id and a temporary password to participate there will be.

We  provides opportunities for adjusters, adjusting firms, claim service vendors,  lawyers in the insurance industry, lawyers who handle and understand independent contractor issues , CPA’s that adjuster understand adjuster issues regarding per diem, working out of state and other, and adjusting firm adminstrative members to join us  at ClaimSmentor and network among our members. We are now in our fourth year of operation with just over 1,000 members to include 66 adjusting firm owners and managers, claim industry service vendors, software vendors of a professional nature-direct from the software vendors certified by the software developer themselves, and much more.

Our growth has been progressive and requires verification of id of all members and use of real names as we wish to maintain a postive professional source for those in the claims community. This transition will now allow  career websites with claim job posting advertisement such as www.greatinsurancejobs.com (who by the way has always been mentor friendly notifying us of Claim Career Fairs annually) and claim staffing firms and recruiters to join the ClaimSmentor online e-mentoring group to participate to locate outstanding claim candidates, purchase banner ads to their firm websites, and for a very reasonable annual cost included with the purchase of a banner ad to download resumes from our participants. The same applies to all insurance company HR departments. Contact us at Debbie@Dimechimes.com for information on the cost of banner ads so you can join and utilize our services. There is no charge to join ClaimSmentor for adjusters.

Our closed forum at ClaimSmentor requiring login id allows members to ask questions as trainees hassle free in a major e-mentoring effort to cultivate improved independent adjuster reputations with insurance companies and with policyholders nationwide
as they process claims for those suffering a major crisis in their lives.

* Just do a web search on your name or login id if you participate on blogs or forums open to the public and you would be astonished about the information a potential employer could use against you when you are under consideration for a staff or independent position.

All registrants must register in their real name and claims or bar information is required to verify as well as a work summary or resume to verify your relationship to staff and independent adjusting insurance claims. The site remains closed to public adjusters and public adjusting firms.

There is NO charge to join at this time (exception is Claim Recruiters, Insurance Recruiters, Insurance Staffing Firms, and Insurance Job Posting Sites). They may join our site to post their jobs and to download resumes all included in the cost of their banner ad purchase. The same applies to Insurance Companies who are seeking an excellent  supplemental pool of quality candidates.

 There are minimal charges should you (newly licensed adjusters) wish to participate in our online live claim classes such as our 50 Hour Fundamentals of Property adjusting class which addresses many basic essentials not covered per our participants in basic estimating and scoping classes. 

As we will now have much more time to dedicate our time as an information highway for training opportunities and for hot topics the claim industry faces, we will be actively seeking those with professional credentials to provide Guest
Blog entries for our Adjuster Information blog, to share their job opportunities for trainees and experienced adjusters, and participation in our ClaimSmentor e-mentor program.

Not only will we have this information through our forums live online but beginning April 2009 we will host group networking opportunities available to all adjusting firms and adjusters who are members of ClaimSmentor through volunteer efforts of our members participating in this e-mentor program. Adjusters on our Dimechimes Claim Staffing Rosters who chose to join us will also be able to attend as they would have transitioned to our ClaimSmentor site.

Why are we finalizing this transition?

.First and foremost is our passion for claims education to improve the image of
independent adjusters who service  insurance company claims. Carriers are
limited in understanding our industry by the adjusting firms who service their
claims. We would like to promote information from the adjusters in the claims adjusting community for a better understanding of independent adjuster information needs while at the same time refrainng from a negative environment via public posting sites creating the wrong impression of independent claims members. The public forums do provide a valuable service to our industry providing important industry resource links and articles. I am just not fond of public posting by adjusters in forums as it could create a problem for them when they are under consideration for a job opportunity.

.To enhance professionalism in the independent adjuster/ staff adjuster relationships 

. I can not bear to get one more fearful call from even experienced adjusters hammered for file handling stats while they are living out of their car with no power, showers, housing, cash or food, high speed internet to upload estimates and photos with no empathy from the carriers in many cases for the independent adjuster plight in the first wave of a hurricane. Independent adjusters are not provided housing . The larger adjusting firms may have the resources to reserve an initial block of rooms where their managers are staying but that does not happen for the majority of adjusters deployed. Carrier staff adjusters have housing locations found for them by the carriers with all expenses paid.  The difficulty of this situation is that independent adjusters have no idea how long they will be deployed on an assignment so they really cannot afford to sign rental leases at storm locations. See our posts n Temporary Housing options not only for independent adjusters but for policyholders as well.

.We work hard to create reality training by hosting a mock disaster training for new adjusters reviewing carrier reporting requirements, Dept of Ins Complaints, Consumer Complaints, reality training about assignment organization, ethical consideration for proper file documentation and much more. We prefer to educate adjusters rather than have them go out unprepared in so many cases during Katrina and Ike. There are so many current  safety issues with adjusters under those circumstances.s

. There are not alot of great options for independent adjusting firms to post for job opportunities especially on insurance industry job boards when they have catastrophe needs. The prices for advertisement is cost prohibitive when the independent adjusting firms have no guarantee from a carrier they will even get assignments. Secondly, the insurance recruiting industry normally charges up to a 33% first annual salary distribution for their fee per individual. Just check through the closed and archived purchasing documents at Citizens of FL or research this on the web. That does not work for the hundreds of catastrophe adjusting firms. They may only need these adjusters for a very limited time (carrier determines length and number of assignments) and they need a place where they can post one ad at a reasonable price for their nationwide storm assignments. Very few job sites allow for nationwide posting of jobs even though they are a good source by a candidate searching “all jobs”. We do not charge ANYTHING for job postings in the Career Forum to those recruiters and carriers purchasing an annual banner ad which is less than the cost to post 5 jobs on most job posting sites.

.To cultivate prepared claim trainees for insurance carrier staff opportunities
as well as for those newly licensed adjusters who prefer independent adjusting
opportunities and just do not know what is required beyond licensing.

.To encourage adjusting firms and carriers to do what makes sense regarding carrier certifications. I have had to turn down adjusters with 10 and 20 years adjusting both daily (non catastrophe claims) and catastrophe (known as a multi line adjuster) who were prohibited from deploying because the CARRIER was not flexible when their experience certainly could have substituted from nothing much more than an estimating test or property issues. An adjuster with that much time in the field certainly would have references who could verify the quality of their prior claim handling abilities. Look at our recent poll on carrier certifications and see what adjusters had to say that are participating on the poll. I’ll let it continue to run continuously through March.

.Claim litigation appears to be ever increasing post Katrina and post Ike
storms with a major complaint being that there were unfair claim practices in our industry and my belief that those newly licensed adjusters nationwide have no perception of  what additional training is required. I am especially concerned that they do not understand coverage issues, proper handling of insurance department complaints, and complaint resolution issues. Several of the windpools are now requiring the independents provide their own E & O and their contracts require that independent firms and independents respond to complaints without the assistance of the carrier. That was probably the final straw for me regarding staffing. Both the Citizens RFP and TWIA it is my understanding both require this. You can view the Citizens RFP to view the hold harmless agreements and information on lawsuits. You can check with TWIA for information inquiring about this. Most importantly run to an Errors and Omissions carrier and protect yourself as recommended in the Q & A  blog on here where www.CPLIC.net recommended adjusters definitely carry their own policy. Call Michael Hale there who is also a ClaimSmentor member and he can answer your questions.

You say you have E and O coverage through your adjusting firm? That may have been fine in the past and it may still be today but do not rely on that without confirming this with your attorney or their E and O provider.  Don’t take a chance it is better to be safe and protected versus sorry. Make sure to verify first if your policy provides defense costs if you are named in a suit and also if attorney fees reduce the policy limits or if they are even covered. Again refer to our blog you can find in the right hand column the Categories tab and search for information there.

What I have learned through 2 years presenting classes from trainees would amaze you.

I had no idea of the misconceptions they were learning from others even with a staff management background and claim career of 28 years.

We hope to improve their understanding of our industry BEFORE they go out and commit Bad Faith causing all E & O premiums to increase as well as major problems for adjusting firms and adjusters being subject to claims litigation for their poor ability to handle claims by going out as newly licensed adjusters without functional claims handling abilitites or claims training that was totally insufficient to send them out in the field or to handle in office claims when they have no training in claim communication and policyholder and agent relationships.

.Why don’t insurance regulators provide requirements for independents like they are now enforcing for public adjusters in many states that INCLUDE apprentice field training subject to hefty fines if  there is any fraud by the source confirming they trained under their supervision. Leaving training to fly by night pop up firms that are not monitored by the state regulators unless they offer CE is not an option in my mind t0 atleast preapproval of the course material by the state. If a class provides CE credit for your state that means that the state department of insurance has atleast approved the course material and approved a minimum acceptable instructor criteria.
. We have learned during our move to the independent side of claims operations
that there is too much lacking in communication between independent adjusters and carrier communications prior to assignments at the independent adjusting firm and independent adjuster level.

We have major hope that we can enhance the need for improved avenues of discussion unrelated to a specific deployment or assignment. We certainly cannot do it alone. We have not figured out what the appropriate method is at this time because adjusters and adjusting firms must be “yes” guys and gals to get assignments and so they don’t lose their contracts. I would never put them in that situation. I am not associated with a carrier or an adjusting firm directly any longer and there are many other retires or those that have left the adjusting field who I am sure would be glad to help bring these issues to the front line.

There are two good organizations you can get recommendations for training options. The first is your local claims association and I also highly recommend NACA – National Assn of Catastrophe adjusters. You can look at their website for a business member directory and locate adjusting firms there. I was disappointed when moving to independent status to find that NAIIA- National Assn of Independent Adjusters was for independent adjusting firms not for individual independents. They have strict requirements to include financial standards and number of years in operation before an adjusting firm can join. Adjusters check their list of business members and send your applications to those firm. I hope to live to see the day that they start a mentoring program such as NACA’s where independent adjusters can join as apprentice members. 

It just goes to show even those firms on the independent side aren’t all independent adjuster friendly except for their core adjusters who can belong to such groups. What about the 10’s of thousands of independents who have to take assignments with her ever calls them since they weren’t called out by their “A” list firm (yes we do recommend independents also make good decisions about who they will deploy with first just as adjusting firms do to determine who will go out first based on independent contract terms, fee schedules, fee splits, reputation of the firm., etc). Whatever you do , do NOT accept assignments without a contract spelling out the terms with all blanks filled in. I’ve posted plenty of blogs here about non payment issues independents could not find representation on because they had either no contract or were never given a copy of the one they did sign nor did they ever see a copy of one signed by an authorized individual with the adjusting firm.

. The claims industry has major problems in regulation of independent adjusting
firms concerning payments from adjusting firms to independent adjusters while at
the same time the adjusting firms experience significant delays from carriers who do not have enough staff claim examiners to promptly review and process claims so not only
policyholders can be paid but so that independents can survive while deployed on catastrophe or assisting branch operations for carriers. 

 Many times the adjusting firm’s reputations suffer  due to delayed payments from the carriers. Insurance departments need to establish requirements for turn around time on not only contact and inspected and closings as they do today but on time limits the carriers have to release the payment to adjusting firms so the independent industry can survive.

For example, you can view the latest RFP 08-0016 on the Citizens of FL  Closed Purchasing documents and they have 30 days to pay the adjusting firm after the adjusting firm submits the closed file. This doesn’t account for weeks or months that could pass by before an overwhelmed adjusting firm who insufficiently staffed their office administration staff or hours could process the claims and submit them to carriers.

. To provide an avenue of open communication regarding RFP or request for
proposals for consideration by carrier claim operations who need good firms to represent them during a major storm. We will post any RFP opportunities by carriers now in our forums for carriers who chose to join as sponsors on our site (see banner ad comments above). This will include a mass distribution email to adjusting firms participating on ClaimSmentor linking them to documents on the carriers site announcing RFP’s for consideration by adjusting firms. At BARE minimum, they could post the RFP and bidding process on their site and let independent adjusting firms know when they are up for consideration and who was selected.

.To foster sources for independent adjusting firms wishing to share information
on growing  technology concerns such as electronic discovery issues, claim
management systems, electronic claim files and other important topics specific
to claims.

 In today’s environment, it still surprises me to see firms who email documents in to the carrier with no way for the adjusting firms or independent adjusters to respond to insureds calling in for file status. That is unacceptable claim service when there are valuable CMS Claim Management systems that are available today such as www.Clickclaims.com that not only allow open access to the live data uploaded in a file  24/7 so anyone taking  agents or customers calls on file status can respond professionally to all customer inquiries.

In addition, systems such as www.ClickClaims.com also provide automatic zoning of claim assignments for tighter assignments so adjusters can see more claims without extensive drive time but also to save on high fuel charges thus saving on the cost of claims handling expenses for both independent adjusters but for insurance carriers as well. We all need to be cost conscious in our claim handling so we are not unnecessarily adding to increased insurance premium costs.

Another CMS feature available today is automatic loss notice uploading and automatic creation of the new file and electronic data fields. Did you know they were so progressive today that they have systems that will even place the first notice by automatically calling the numbers on the loss report submitted by the agent to let the insured know that their claim has been received, what the claim number and carrier contact numbers are, as well as the adjusters name and contact phone number. Now that is service! I have personally used the system in 2004 and 2005. I am not showing favorites but relying on a 2006 AMBest award that Clickclaims won for best CMS System. Simsol, Powerclaims, and Xactware all have them. The difference in using an outside system like ClickClaims is that it is not estimate software specific so you can upload estimates from any system.

I am no software estimate guru but the 2 people our industry can count on to answers questions no matter which software program is www.powerclaims.com and www.simsol.com (Gale Hawkins, owner of PC and John Postava with Simsol). Did you know independents are charge 20.00 just to make a call to ask a support help question. Now that is surely not a consumer friendly position when adjusters working out of hotel rooms should be able to count on them for live support good gracious with the cost they have to pay to activate the software while on storm!

. As a survey source to obtain the opinions from independent firms and
adjusters regarding claim handling issues without them fearing loss of contracts
and work assignments by opening the doors to communication by all parties. 

Polls are a good source for evaluating   independent adjuster opinions. How many times do carriers send out polls to independent adjusters or to staff regarding how the ADJUSTERS evaluate the information they received from carriers, the expertise of the temporary independent and staff claim examiners, claim managers, and reinspectors approving or rejecting their files during a storm?

The only surveys I have ever participated were either on our Adjuster Information blog here (and that would be a total of one thus far) OR via carrier surveys on employee opinion surveys evaluating employees opinions on their permanently assigned managers. Doesn’t this leave out evaluation of the entire temporary assignments while out on catastrophe? I can definitely say that we never received one from the carriers state wide in FL in 04 or 05 after processing their losses.

. To enhance adjuster understanding from a CARRIER claim management perspective through our participating carriers and adjusting firm managers assisting in panels and
forum topics both online and through new field ClaimSmentor groups where
professional sources come together for networking purposes similar to claim
association meetings. Watch for our first announcement coming soon!

. To work with carriers directly as a source for claims talent  cultivation through requests directly to enhance information on their websites so the claims adjusting community can find vendors providing required independent carrier certifications and to enhance information adjusters learn at their required training. Survey results
(unscientic on our recent poll on our blog show most adjusters do not feel that
they obtained adequate training on topics other than on than estimating to
properly service claims meeting carrier file requirements.) You see very little advertisements or job postings from the major adjusting firms as they assume everyone knows who they are. I can assure you newly licensed don’t based on information gathered from our class members who have no idea. It should be the CARRIER’s responsibility to openly post the adjusting firm names authorized to handle claims for each storm along with the information such as website and phone numbers so adjusters can apply to service their claims.

It is not enough for carriers to assume we really are out of adjusters just because a particular firm may have run out but check DOI websites. How can this be when there are over 50,000 adjusters just in Texas alone.

. Hopefully to improve carrier requirements for professional  file requirements
that are also policyholder friendly. The adjusting community has developed an
overwhelming opinion that our industry has become more “pretty file”
friendly than insurance consumer friendly. Just one example is the requirement
for “sketch” type diagrams versus allowing an adjuster to prepare a
professional hand written diagram which is adequate. How many times have you had
a file rejected for being off one inch?

While we understand in this age of claim litigation that file standards be consistent, we also understand surveys from sources such as NAIC continue to show time service issues and adjusters feel in many cases it is due to carrier excessive file requirements.

Lets together work to develop tips for carriers so they improve file review standards for their claim managers. We are NOT talking a union here or any of those options bantered about on web forums but professional carrier level panels. This may never happen but possibly the insurance department consumer affairs division can handle meetings for adjusting firms and independent adjusters without the carriers present ( I can hear them now…those dern independents we aren’t using them anymore and the cycle starts all over again instead of creating a positive training environment to mentor independents).

I innocently suggested to a few carrier claim managers and hr personnel that called me about our services to see why they didn’t use newly licensed adjusters as summer interns instead of teachers and college students. Being licensed carriers would have licensed (versus temporarily licensed) people who could be available year around. Don’t get me wrong, teachers that are off for the summer are a great resource but what about the many hurricanes that make landfall September 0 November. We won’t even go where that discussion went. Just check where your insurance carrier dollars are going by turning on the NASCAR races , golf tournaments  or better yet the super bowl.

 Wouldn’t it make sense to offer apprentice temporary independent positions they can staff through adjusting firms or professional organizations such as NACA? If they are available other than scholarships often posted on carrier sites then I have just not been able to find them. Believe me I tried  requesting grants or support from carriers for our e-mentoring program to no avail. “You know carriers don’t sponsor people that don’t work for them”??? I thought that is exactly who independent adjusters serviced. How very disappointing.

. NAIC  (National Assn of Insurnace Commissioner )cancelled the discussion on the Independent Adjuster Model National licensing recommendations in 2007 or 2008. Use the category link to locate that post here. I’ll get the links updated tomorow so you don’t have to search.

Independent adjusters are now being required to obtain non resident licenses in anywhere from 10 to 15( one email and resume this week from a newly licensed adjuster stated they had already completed 18 non resident licenses but had no other training) states versus allowing them to work under emergency adjuster licenses. There are valid reasons for this but this is also a huge added burden financially to independent
adjusters when carrier staff adjusters are not required to obtain them at all as special rules apply to staff adjusters. Some carriers do license those in call centers that handle claims nationally  but that usually does not apply when they have to resort to rotating in daily adjusters temporarily for peak work loads). Check it out on your state department of insurance licensing website).
Can we work together to promote a better way to qualify adjusters who wish to
service catastrophe claim adjusting needs? New adjusters are misinterpreting comments publicly posted on many adjusting firm websites (especially the large adjusting firms because this is what the carriers are requiring I am assuming )about the non resident requirements so rather than obtaining functional training they think non resident license is the only requirement to obtain adjusting firm deployments.

Claims handling is not a game of bingo where you just fill in the dots to win.” B- Fl license”, C- Tx license, diagram- check, photos- check, you get the idea. That seems to be the manner new trainees are being taught which drives me nuts!

. To enhance independent adjusters understanding of professional claim
development through sources such as www.aicpcu.org versus forum training and
attendance at ridiculous prices at the hundreds of new schools or adjuster websites cropping up nationwide put on by some adjusters with little more than 1 or 2 storms under their belt and no true perspective of carrier management expectations from a
management standpoint. We are here to service carriers and minimal claim
handling practices are destroying the independent talent being deployed by
carriers. One such example includes trainees sharing with us that they were taught at a “claim school” they didn’t have to climb roofs and could do “drive by ” photos. Whew- now that brings fear of Bad Faith for sure! A second example is a firm holding classes that has one 30 day assignment to a windpool as his credentials! It is getting pretty dern scary out here without regulations training firms must meet to allowed to teach something so important as claims handling.

.Together the synergy of our group networking together can improve so many
needs not only for the claims industry but for insurance consumers already
facing an insurance coverage crisis as multiple carriers leave the coast.

. To raise awareness for all adjusters on safety concerns while handling claims
in an environment often hostile to the claims industry post Katrina and Ike.  Just search for safety concern posts we have already posted on our blogs about ladder safety and an adjuster murdered while field inspecting a loss near Tampa, FL several years ago.

. To raise awareness of the often overlooked agency / claims relationship that
is being experienced in claims. I find through the 200 plus newly licensed adjusters
taking our class that they were totally unaware of the need to communicate with agents who have worked long and hard to foster clients while at the same time experiencing
underwriting restrictions worse than at any time I recall in over 30 years in claims. We have two or three blogs here on that very topic!

. To foster relationships with insurance departments to enhance information
available to adjusters regarding complaint ratios for adjusting firms while at
the same time requiring insurance companies to notify insurance departments of
adjusting firms dismissed for unethical or poor claim handling issues.

Insurance consumers should not be subject to claim handling by firms showing  trends for providing inferior claim service nor should adjusters who have spent thousands
of dollars training be subject to abuse by the few bad apples in the adjusting
firm community who repeatedly take advantage of adjusters by not paying
 fees  earned to adjusters.

We need to stop adjusters from calling policyholders to see if they have been paid as it is their only source of information as to  whether the independent adjusting firm was paid and they should have been paid. Carriers need to include information on contacting them in their carrier certification and/ or induction center classes in the event an adjuster becomes the victim of such efforts.

This is a widespread problem carriers need to be aware of. Independent adjusters are forbidden to discuss things like this with carrier staff. Advice often posted about placing liens on an insured’s property and other advice that has not been researched through expert attorneys would never be tolerated by carrier and could totally destroy an adjusting firm or adjusters association with a carrier. Let’s find out what the legal community advises through volunteer articles and guest blog posts or links to great articles found on the web written by law firms specializing both in claim litigation from a consumer standpoint as well as attorneys representing carriers. There are some great articles on so many topics available through article links on public law firm websites at no charge so there just is not an excuse for us not to learn from these outstanding resources.

How about the poor advice many new independents are given about “throw away” phones..see our communication blog for more details. Thank goodness for independent firms or insurance companies now requiring voice mail for customer messages. My personal preference which I required while managing at independent firms is that ALL messages from policyholders be logged into the activity log by the call centers or administrative help. I then required the admns bring all messages directly to me if the call was over an adjuster’s failure to show up for an appointment or to return calls. Most carriers do have such strict requirements while many of the independent firms do not implement those requirements if the carrier has not specified this requirement.

. Due to increased litigation published in news sources and blogs, carriers and adjusting firms are being served with suit papers in an ever increasing number. Questions are regularly posed regarding an adjuster’s training, and independent adjusting firm or TPA’s training for adjusters, and to the adjusters  and or carrier executives themselves.

I have been weighing these problems since Katrina litigation and have finally made a decision that I in good conscious cannot comfortably send adjusters out to adjusting firms when we have no control over their payment delays, the carriers training requirements and other liability issues.

 I have decided to pursue growth of our training services to field networking opportunities through ClaimSmentor to help improve the problems just partially outlined above.

“Pay it forward”  to thank the mentors you have had in your life by joining our efforts at ClaimSmentor and through our Linkedin contacts, and by comments adding to discussions either in the forums, this blog, or our linkedin site. Together we can make a differencef in claim relationships.

We will continue to accept registrations through ClaimSmentor. Members will
have the opportunity to upload their resumes and adjusting firms, recruiters, and carriers to upload a flyer or brochure on their company just as they do now. They will also be able to access our Rosters and find talent that may just meet their needs by considering our members.

Firms can sort by state and experience levels as we have trainees through managers and
experienced adjusters. 

As we will no longer be staffing with the exception of a very few select
existing clients or carrier staff positions, we will begin a service for
carriers and adjusting firms who desire mass distributiion of their opportunities
rather than waiting on adjusters who might just happen to find them on web
advertisements.

 We will be proactive for you so you are not left without qualified adjusters should you wish to participate in this service. This will give you additional candidates to consider for deployment when you have depleted your roster of qualified candidates.

All participants at ClaimSmentor should go to the “MY Account tab” after
login and change your preference to allow or not allow emails from our mailing
system to your registration email. However, note that this will also prevent you
from receiving notifications on topics you want updates on. All member profiles
are required to have an active valid email address under our Terms of Use posted
in the forums as well as real first and last name and city and state.

Please allow 10 days to receive your login id and password if you are a new
registrant as we are presently overwhelmed with requests for membership as we
transition thousands of adjusters from our claim staffing rosters to members of
ClaimSmentor for those who confirm they would like to participate.

 If you are a  member of our rosters receiving this announcement by email, we will not automatically register you at www.ClaimSmentor.com. You must reply to the email you receive from Debbie@Dimechimes.com requesting specifically to join. We will not upload your resume or profile fields. You can do that upon first login when you join.

Watch for much more information in our forums coming very soon as well as
upgrades on all of our sites to include this blog and our new Dimechimes ClaimSmentor Claims group located under Insurance Claims groups at :

www.linkedin.com/dimechimesclaimsmentor.com

We cannot thank you enough for your continued support and participation in our
ClaimSmentor e-mentoring project to support the claims industry and to those who were members of our deployment/assignment rosters.

We do hope you will be supportive of our ClaimSmentor efforts. The S in
ClaimSmentor has always stood for service to the claims industry and we will now
“major” in those service attempts!

The only change you should see is improvement in our forums, blog posts, and experience and credentials of mentors who join to participate enhancing your membership at ClaimSmentor, and many more claim assignment opportunities for those moving from our rosters at Dimechimes Claim Staffing as we network and register many new members to bring you information. We will be posting many more insurance and claim recruiters and job posting sites information now that I no longer have will have a competitor joining from the recruiting side.

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You can find all website and contact information at the About page here on our blog.


Exciting News- Vale Tech now offers 500 Online Classes!

June 12, 2008

 

I had just written recently about the need for change in the way we educate independent adjusters as many of the courses available are cost prohibitive to independent adjusters who must pay their own expenses so when you add hotels, gas mileage, and the course tuition to the mix, it’s almost impossible for them to attend the many types of training that they need.

Here are links to the prior blogs on gas expenses and on carrier certification classes. In fact, I had suggested carriers use a reputable firm such as Vale National Technical schools to administer carrier certifications. Another serious problem is that we are seeing leaps and bounds in new training schools offered by adjusters who barely have experience themselves and the last place new adjusters should be going to obtain valuable training advice. I am hopeful many new adjusters will take advantage instead of taking courses such as these offered by Vale where it not only is offered by a reputable firm but also by a name that is well recognized in the claims industry thus adding value to your resume and training background.

https://dimechimes.wordpress.com/2008/05/01/insurance-carrier-claim-certifications-where-do-you-test-for-them-much-improvement-needed-in-the-process-of-certifying-independent-adjusters/

https://dimechimes.wordpress.com/2008/05/29/what-role-are-rising-gas-prices-going-to-play-in-your-deployment-decisions-for-hurricane-season-2008-carriers-and-adjusting-firms-should-meet-the-need/

Well the solutions are quickly rolling out! We were very excited yesterday to receive a press release from Vale Tech  announcing they are now offering 500 online classes! I can’t tell you the many many times that I’ve talked to new adjusters or seen posts in adjuster forums from folks who wanted Vale field classes but could not afford to attend. Here is the press release:

Here’s the press release:

Date: Wed, 11 Jun 2008 15:54:29 -0500
Subject: Vale National Training Centers Launches 500 New Courses Online
From: Mike Holcomb <mholcomb@csbrand.com>
To: Insurance News Editor mholcomb@csbrand.com

Dear Editor:Attached please find a media release about Vale National Training Centers and the launch of an on-line extension of their training and continuing education curriculum for insurance claims professionals.

Please consider the information for publication in the near future. 

Many Thanks!  

Mike Holcomb
Media Coordinator
Cornerstone Brand Communications, for
Vale National Training Centers.

903-534-5220  FAX 903-534-5811
mholcomb@csbrand.com

    

 

 

 

Vale National Training Centers Launches 500 New Courses Online.

ARLINGTON, Texas – Vale National Training Centers, Inc, a recognized leader in insurance industry educational services, has launched an online extension to their signature classroom-based proficiency development curriculum for claim professionals.

Dramatically increasing their course offerings, Vale National has added approximately 500 distance-learning modules available immediately through a standard web browser. This new capability includes instruction for Texas adjuster licensing, multi-state agent pre-licensing and exam prep, insurance continuing education, professional designations in addition to general business, finance and professional development.

“We’ve been working on this for several years, but see the rapidly evolving industry demands for fast, convenient and cost-efficient personnel education as the perfect environment for this new service,” said Steve LeClaire, president of Vale National Training Centers. “It not only eliminates employee travel and lodging expenses, but lost productivity from being out of the office as well.”

“Combined with our instructor-led courses and their proven record of converting knowledge into applied skill, this library of hundreds of online courses allows us to custom design an ideal program for each training manager and his personnel,” said LeClaire. “We can provide comprehensive training to new employees, supplementation to experienced professionals, focused training for specialized staff and career development for personnel throughout a company. This includes department heads, supervisors, appraisers, adjusters, examiners, as well as local office managers and sales agents.”

Vale National’s online courses are available through their website and can be accessed at anytime and from any computer with an Internet connection and common system compatibility. Basic courses can often be completed in one session, but just as longer courses are divided into multiple learning sessions, the system allows students to work at their own pace, tracking their progress and storing their responses until their course is complete.

 

The system also gives training managers the ability to review and monitor their employees’ performance, maintaining a record of all subjects mastered and providing notification when course requirements are met successfully.  

Vale National Training Centers has trained over 40,000 industry professionals since 1949 and operates instructor-led classroom training facilities in California, Pennsylvania and Texas. A member company of the Cunningham Lindsey Group, Vale National’s online program is developed in partnership with 360˚ Training, an independent online training company.

For more information about Vale National Training Centers or their classroom, on-site or on-line training options, visit http://www.valenational.com or contact Steve LeClaire at sleclaire@valenational.com.

About Cunningham Lindsey

Cunningham Lindsey U.S. Inc. is an independent insurance claims services company, providing a wide range of claims adjusting services including commercial property and liability, personal lines, catastrophe response, and environmental assessment and remediation. Its national network of 141 offices also provides worldwide services through offices of sister companies within the Cunningham Lindsey Group strategically located throughout Canada, the United Kingdom, continental Europe, the Far East, Latin America and the Middle East. CLUS is a subsidiary of Cunningham Lindsey Group Limited.

For additional information contact David Repinski, C.E.O, at (214) 488-6713, or drepinski@CL-NA.com or visit our website at http://www.cunninghamlindseyus.com.

****************

Vale is used by many carriers for residential and commerical building estimating courses for their new adjusters. I attended a 3 week Vale course in my early years back in PA and I can attest to the fact the training was outstanding and our class was the toughest I ever took in my career having no residential construction experience when I attended. Whew ….was that ever nerve wracking as it was a requirement to keep our adjusting positions back in those years!

I’ll be going through the course offerings and make a list of recommendations for beginners, intermediate, and advanced courses for those interested in these classes but don’t know where to start so you have some idea where to begin and to prioritize your training if there isn’t already those suggestions on their website.

I don’t want to overlook also mentioning the Automobile, Residential, and Commerical estimating workbooks now also available that I had also just posted about on ClaimSmentor last week when I found them which also would be excellent field reference material for new adjusters or those advancing to commercial claim handling:

http://www.valenational.com/products.html

We’ll be writing another blog within the next week or so linking to a few more online programs that provide excellent opportunities for online adjuster training.

Another point to be sure to understand is that adjusting firms and carriers understand the value of Vale Tech courses so taking these would be an excellent addition to your resumes upon completion thus they have my FULL endorsement for their new programs!


Adjusters….Do you need your Nationwide Catastrophe Certification? FREE Class Next Week

June 11, 2008

 

We had previously written about the need for experienced adjusters to obtain their carrier certifications in this blog:

https://dimechimes.wordpress.com/2008/05/01/insurance-carrier-claim-certifications-where-do-you-test-for-them-much-improvement-needed-in-the-process-of-certifying-independent-adjusters/

We are assisting an adjusting firm who needs additional independents for standby for Nationwide catastrophes. They are holding their Nationwide Certification next week in Charlotte, NC. The class is FREE and includes certification for Homewise ( a FL carrier who bought out some Citizens policies) and for American Integrity. According to the claim manager, Nationwide must have a manager present the training so they cannot just schedule these certification classes wherever and whenever they wish.

If you need your Nationwide Certification and are available to attend class next week in Charlotte, NC on 6/20/08 or 6/21/08 (your option of either day), please email me at  our staffing firm, Dimechimes Claims Staffing and Claim Training, with your resume, 2 references and your choice of the two dates so we can get you registered. YOU MUST HAVE TWO YEARS OF CLAIMS EXPERIENCE TO SIT FOR THE EXAM according to the Claims Manager we are working with.

We will send those who confirm they can attend all information on the class. Once we get you registered you will also receive the entire training day’s agenda and information to give you an idea of  what you need to study for the exams that day.

We look forward to seeing many of you there!

If you already have your Nationwide Catastrophe Certification and wish to be considered for catastrophe deployment opportunities, please forward your resume, 2 references, and the specific information on the approximate date you passed the certification exam as well as the name of the adjusting firm you certified with so our client can confirm your record with nationwide for approval to deploy you on new assignments.


Auto Adjuster Claim Training Updates

June 2, 2008

 

We seem to be getting more and more inquiries about Auto Claim Training options so we wanted to update our  blog for you.

First, here are links to our first two Auto Adjuster Claim training blogs:

https://dimechimes.wordpress.com/2007/10/11/auto-claim-training-what-options-do-i-have/

https://dimechimes.wordpress.com/2007/10/13/auto-adjuster-claim-careers-an-interview-with-adjusting-firm-owner-carey-oconnor-with-csp-claims/

We’ve located some additional information to share with the trainees looking for more auto claim training information:

Vale National Technical training school has a Basics in Auto Estimating book you can purchase online for a mere $38.00:

http://www.valenational.com/products.html#aebook

They also are developing some online auto estimating courses as outlined here:

http://www.valenational.com/online.html

You’ll find a drop down menu on Automobile Claim training options with Vale using this link:

http://www.valenational.com/index.html#

We’ve mentioned in prior blogs about some Auto Estimating program options for writing auto claim estimates in the first two blogs but I’m not sure I mentioned Audatex and here is a link to their estimating program:

http://www.audatex.us/collision/estimating.htm

Here’s a April 2008 press release advising that  Mitchell/ CCC Pathways auto estimating software firms are merging and will be known as CCC-Mitchell, Inc:

http://www.cccis.com/portal/page/portal/CCCISPagegroup/Misc/PressRelease/CHICAGOandSANDIEGOApril112008

 

For a complete schedule of Vale Tech’s 2008 Auto estimating courses which they have listed at a cost of $2,295 for the two week program (note Vale is used by insurance companies frequently thus staff auto adjusters would have this fee paid by the carrier sending them to school along with their housing expenses and meals):

http://www.valenational.com/ae3000.html

You might also wish to check with Pacesetter Claims regarding upcoming Auto Claim training classes:

http://www.pacesetterclaims.com/PCSTech1.aspx

Wardlaw Claims is offering an online auto adjuster claim training class in Investigating Auto Liability Claims for a most reasonable $23.95 :

http://www.wardlawtraining.com/wctc_selfstudy.cfm?Course_id=1035

I’ve heard through some participants at ClaimSmentor that CNC-Resource adjusting firm in Mobile, AL is also offering some insurance company auto claim carrier certification courses if you want to check with them for their next classes which come highly recommended by a moderator at ClaimSmentor who has taken their classes:

http://www.cnc-resource.com/

Pilot Catastrophe Services has recently been running advertisements for experienced Auto Claims adjusters and their website link for Auto Adjusters indicates they do offer a yearly three week auto adjusting class so you may wish to check with them as well:

http://www.pilotcat.com/Pageview.asp?edit_id=20941

There are many auto claim training programs for insurance company auto adjuster trainees and some excellent carrier staff adjuster training schools such as this Progressive Insurance ad explains from a 2005 press release:

http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0EIN/is_2005_Jan_25/ai_n8708560

And this article about Progressive’s five training facilities from 2006:

http://www.theautochannel.com/news/2006/08/01/016801.html

We’ll continue to add information to this Auto Claim Training blog series as we learn of new training opportunities in the field and online by other sources.

We welcome input and replies from experienced auto adjusters who have more information to share with new adjusters.

Update 6/11/08:

Automobile Adjuster Online Estimatics book is now offered by Vale Tech at a most reasonable price and highly recommended:

 http://www.valenational.com/products.html


Insurance Carrier Claim Certifications- Where Do you Test for Them? Much Improvement Needed in the Process of Certifying Independent Adjusters

May 1, 2008

 

 **Updated 2/13/09- Participate in our Poll on Carrier Certification exams for independent claim adjusters here:

https://dimechimes.wordpress.com/2009/02/13/independent-adjusters-participant-in-our-poll-on-carrier-certification-exams/

************************************************************

The recent wind and hail storms have brought up the need to centralize information as to where adjusters can obtain their carrier certification tests to go out on storm assignments as independents. We had to pass over many very very qualified senior adjusters on a recent staffing request because the carrier would make NO exception to having passed their pre-qualifying exam for an independent to work their claims.

This practice is becoming much more common and carriers are being much less willing to waive these requirements in the aftermath of Katrina litigation where training seemed to always be a common question during depositions on Katrina lawsuits.

As a result, many adjusters..new and experienced alike… are looking for firms offering their certification exams. This is the way the present system works:

1) Carrier selects adjusting firms that will work their daily and their catastrophe claims

2) The selected firms perform the IDL (Interactive Distance Learning) training and the exams for the carriers

3) If an independent adjuster happens to be on a firm’s roster offering the certification program, they will probably get an email notification of the opportunity to certify but what about the hundreds who have not applied to that particular adjusting firm?

You (as an independent adjuster) do not take the exam directly from the carrier in any case that I am presently aware of. The problems lie in the fact that independents have ZERO way of knowing which independent adjusting firms handle their claims. The carriers normally do not post information for independent adjusters on their open public websites so they are left to word of mouth or postings on forums such as  ours at ClaimSmentor. In addition, the adjusting firms being used by a carrier can change regularly as they change service vendors handling their claims.

We have rounded up all of the information we can on upcoming carrier certification exams on the following carriers:

Citizens of FL

State Farm

Allstate

Nationwide

Texas Windpool

American Family

Homewise Insurance

Farmers

USAA

We have posted this information in our Seminars Forum on ClaimSmentor. We are also working together with participants to improve on those lists to make sure that we have all of the known adjusting firms offering training and are  reviewing all of their websites and providing links to upcoming training. In addition, I will be contacting all of the major carriers media relations departments prior to the 6/1/08 storm season starting to obtain hopefully better information and publish on list of ALL information with website links.

As an example, Citizens of FL is one of the only sites who has an Adjuster Resources link that does have information on independent adjuster training directly on their website. Click here to see their catastrophe vendor list for this year and also this last link (click here) has a 46th vendor that has never made it to their list on the adjuster resource page but is also an approved vendor. State Farm has their 4 vendors listed here(clickhere). We weren’t so lucky finding the information for other carriers except through word of mouth through adjusters participating in our forums or through vendors publishing upcoming training dates either in classified ads (rarely done by most- they expect adjusters to know of them and go directly to their website event or training page) or by directly going to their websites to search for training once we knew they serviced their claims. Even with the known adjusting firms, many have nothing coming up posted on their sites as many have already held their yearly conferences this year and won’t be holding additional certifications unless there is a need at the time of a major catastrophe which we all know is the most stressful time any adjuster can go through tough exams when they are on a cat site with pending claims.

This process is ridiculous is about the best I can say for it. Carriers think that there are no adjusters left out there once a major storm has hit because their selected vendors have run out of folks. Well, I will definitely attest to the fact that after much research and hours spent talking to adjusters through my claim staffing firm that most folks – even the experienced ones- don’t know where to go to obtain their required certification tests through many carriers. More needs to be done to publish this information on carrier websites so independent adjusters can take the testing if that is what they are going to require to deploy them. They shouldn’t assume that there are no qualified folks out there- the fact is there may not be more that have their certification. We know of numerous stories where trainee adjusters who had not even begun their training are pulled out of classes when something major hits to go work files. What a shame when there are experienced folks available who had just not taken their certification classes who were willing to go but turned down over these newer certification class requirements.

Carriers also need to realize that there are MANY independents who are not willing to incur the cost of travel, hotels, and especially gas costs at today’s rates when there is no guarantee of work from a particular carrier or adjusting firm. Much needs to be done to move to 100% web based training classes which can be well done with the technology today. I hear the complaint often from adjusters who can attend an IDL preliminary broadcast locally but then have to drive quite a distance to take the actual test. There is no need for that type of requirement in today’s environment. We understand there are issues of trust that online exams are monitored when conducted such as they are for state licensing exams but there are many many service vendors nationwide that offer such testing facilities that could be utilized for carrier certification testing. Hopefully, we will see improvements in these processes as carriers consider their needs for securing qualified independent personnel to help during major catastrophes.

Other options should be considered by carriers to improve this process to ensure more independent adjusters are available at all times to meet there needs. Examples include offering CE credits for their certification programs to entice the more experienced adjusters to take them, offering them online nationwide at testing facilities, reversing the process so the cart isn’t pulling the horse where the adjuster completes a form online at the carrier site expressing interest in the independent certification exam and then the carrier distributes their information to their approved adjusting firms if they are not wanting to publish that information on their sites (who the adjusting firms are), or just simply giving them registration information through testing facilities where they take the certification exam and then only successful passers names are passed on to approved independent firms to solicit resumes from the adjusters.

The ideal situation would be if there was ONE test that was acceptable to ALL carriers via a training school that is respected by carriers like Vale National  (many already send adjusters there for auto and property training from the staff side) where they would accept that certification in lieu of their own but with each carrier having their own policies and their own company interpretations on claim handling issues such as number of hits per square for hail,etc that is very unlikely to ever happen. I’ve seriously considered opening such a facility but the start up costs and the marketing with carriers who take a long time accepting change would make it cost prohibitive but I do hope to see a professional  Independent Claim University open one day that the carriers embrace. Most carrier certification programs are very much the same with the major concentration on estimatic issues and code of conduct issues. They could easily be conducted by an outsourced training vendor for them. I think they would see a major change in results in the numbers of adjusters available when they take out the personality equation of different adjusting firms deciding who can come and go for them as far as independent claim staffing. It would give them a true count through one source as to the number of independents truly available. Many tell me part of the issue is the distant arm carriers wish to keep with independents due to the employee/independent issues this could raise so rather they rely on independent adjusting firms to totally manage the training and deployment of independent adjusters.

I also don’t think carriers realize that the process of adjusters being willing to go on standby and waiting in a holding pattern while the independent adjusting firm clears their name and social security number with the carrier to make sure they have the record of their certification and that there is no reason this individual adjuster has been put on a “do not use” list based on past poor performance is workable at the time of a major catastrophe. Independents will not sit at home for days turning down other offers for work from other firms to go out on other assignments when the carrier is back logged and delays getting information back to the adjusting firms so they can deploy the adjusters. The carriers should have online access where an approved adjusting firm can simply enter the adjusters social security number and name and confirm online that they are an approved independent adjuster just like they do for a state adjuster’s license and this would avoid your approved adjusting firm losing the opportunity to use a certified adjuster to another assignment they can deploy on immediately.

Please- help us help you by publishing the necessary information. It’s very simple to add information to a carrier’s career website pages for Independent adjusters as to 1) If you use independents 2) If you do what is required to service your claims experience wise and certificates required 3) What adjusting firms are on their current list of firms receiving assignments 4) A website link to those adjusting firms (Citizens still doesn’t provide them and I can tell you it was quite time consuming to locate all 46 websites for the Citizens Research paper I did when they did not publish that information. 5) They should also publish the estimating software they require since this is dictated by the carrier not the adjusting firm in most cases and the adjusters need to sign up and set up for that software prior to deploying.

If you haven’t registered yet for ClaimSmentor so you can access Carrier Certification information we have collected for adjusters once you are registered. All website registration info is posted on the About page here on the blog.


Haag Education Seminars available for Adjusters and Adjusting firms- Great Roof Damage Assessment Training

April 24, 2008

 

It isn’t often I’m willing to go out on a limb to recommend a specific school’s training programs but I wanted to pass along this information as we have had many participants take Haag Engineering’s educational seminars reporting back on the excellent quality of the training. I took a one week roofing class at their home office years ago and thought very highly of the program.

The classes meet our search for reputable sources of classes that also provide CE credits. At the top of my list of favorite programs they offer for adjusters are the Roofing Certification Course  and the Roof Damage Assessment classes for adjusters.

Visit www.haageducation.com for your CE credit and other training needs. In addition to their educational programs, they will come to an adjusting firm’s facility to present much needed training such as California Earthquake certification,etc which is an outstanding option given the unrealistic price of gas approaching $4.00 per gallon this summer at a time when adjuster’s have had much less work the past two seasons. You can find a complete list of ALL of the seminars they have available and search by date, city,etc here. New this year, they also offer their class room facilities for adjusting firm for field classes at a much more reasonable price than hotel facilities often used for field meetings.

I’ve often wondered just what did happen to the experiment they were working on years and years ago when I attended a one week roofing school while a staff field reinspector at their headquarters where they were experimenting with newly manufactured shingles WITHOUT the granules on them to see what it did to the life of the shingles(comparing it to a second set from same manufacture group with the granules). Their plan had been to leave this roof section ( I think it was 10 x 10) out in the field 10 years. All experienced adjusters are well aware of granule loss claims by roofers alleging they totalled the roof. It will be interesting to hear from them as to how that ever turned out.

If you get a chance, visit with John Derosa, Haag Engineering Education Seminar Manager who is most approachable and willing to service your training needs where it is most convenient for your group. I am fortunate to have met him in person at the 2007 NACA convention. In the event you’d like to talk to him directly, here is John’s direct contact information:

John M. DeRosa

Seminar Manager

Education Department

Haag Engineering Co.

Failure and Damage Consultants since 1924

Direct : (214) 614-6562

Cell: (972) 897-2947

Fax: (214) 614-6501

4949 West Royal Lane

Irving Texas  75063

I don’t want to fail to mention their publications as well for those of you unable to travel to any of their field locations. You can view those available here. This same link shows tools such as their PITCH gauge and provides information on their newest publications such as the Tile Roof Assessment guide. Having a few of these items myself in my library, I can attest to the quality of these guides and the quality of the information and training guidance for trainees and experienced adjusters alike. Their pricing is extremely reasonable on their publications so they should be within the reach of everyone’s budget. 

Here is also a link on their site where you can check the CE credits available for their classes by state:

Click here

Should you be a ClaimSmentor member or Dimechimes Corporation Roster participant, be sure to ask John for your participant discount on classes and course publications.


Adjusters- Read about Class Action lawsuit in OK on Overhead and Profit issues

April 2, 2008

The majority of adjusters on our rosters handle property versus auto claims or a combination of both thus I believe many of you would be interested in knowing about the Class Action lawsuit going on in OK against Farmers Insurance styled Burgess et al. v. Farmers Insurance Company, Inc. et al.

An excerpt taken from the Class Action website for this case says that:

This is the website for the Burgess et al. v. Farmers Insurance Company, Inc. et al. class action lawsuit.  Homeowners have sued Farmers saying that they improperly withheld payments for general contractor’s overhead and profit (“O&P”) from amounts paid on claims under homeowner’s insurance policies to citizens of Oklahoma.   The Court has not decided if the Defendants did anything wrong. You need to decide whether to stay in the Class or exclude yourself, and you need to decide this by May 16, 2008.

This is an important case and you may wish to share a link to this blog with your claim managers at the adjusting firm level or if your an independent claim manager, you might wish to share this with your insurance carrier management as they may wish to discuss this with their corporate legal departments to review their current position on the overhead and profit issues discussed in this case.

Here is a link to the first article with links to all of the court documents to include the complaint:

Click here

A link to the lawyers representing the class members:

Click here

Here’s also an article about it from a negative anti-Farmers site with their posting on the case:

Click here

It seems we are hearing more often about suits involving these issues. Here is an example from a 2007 article  addressing the standard 20% and the belief by some that 20% was not enough for Katrina claims in a case against State Farm and one against Travelers (any lawyers viewing- any updates on these cases would be great!): Click here for that article

Contractors are also discussing these issues on some of their forums and blogs: Click here for an example

These articles and developments are just one topic example of why it is utmost important that you obtain your training on estimatics and claims handling by reputable firms that are up to date with current events with issues which could effect our claims industry. Too often I hear about new adjuster turned estimating school with no understanding of claim management issues or current issues going on that students need to know about. Always check out the experience and qualifications before you sign up for the multitude of estimating classes out there these days on the market!


Next 40 Hour Fundamentals of Claims Class ONLINE-begins April 7, 2008

March 29, 2008

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We will begin our next 40 hour ONLINE Fundamentals of Claims class to be held on Monday and Thursday evenings from 6-9pm CST at ClaimSmentor on Monday April 7, 2008 through May 1, 2008.

This is 24 hours of online  LIVE instruction and 16 hours of pre-class reading material on general insurance carrier requirements for Property claim assignment handling. We touch on Additional Living Expense training and worksheets, Contents Claim handling and contents estimating software and depreciation, jewelry losses, common contents claim limits and coverage issues, estimate reconciliation issues, dealing with attorneys and public adjusters, coverage claim handling, complaint resolution handling, insurance department complaint handling, carrier/adjuster codes of conduct and ethics expectations, independent contracts and things to watch for when signing on with a new adjusting firm, and the favorite portion of the class is always our mock disaster assignment where you learn about agency relationships and carrier management expectations of you as well as  fee bill samples and discussions regarding the various fee billing types you may be asked to work under so you understand what benefits YOU as the adjuster the most. We close the class out with file requirement/documentation requirements and open question and answer sessions so trainees feel welcome to ask questions as they are in all classes. Much more is covered as well as numerous claim current events you need to be aware of before dealing with the public this storm season.

New adjusters often make the mistake of thinking obtaining  an adjuster’s license and an estimatic class is all that is necessary to go out on catastrophe or to begin handling claims. That is only a very small portion of what is necessary before you should EVER consider accepting assignments. One only has to view many of the lawsuits against adjuster’s and adjusting firms that have taken place in the wake of Hurricane Katrina to understand it is more important now than ever to have a much more indepth understanding of claim file handling PRIOR to going out on claims. The consequences for unprofessional claim handling are higher now than ever and it’s most important you obtain as much detail and understanding as you can before you accept assignments.

This course can be taken alone or in conjunction with our Career Coaching services where we personalize your resume customized for a new claims career as well as a detailed review of your background and assess your best possibilities for gainful employment in the claims industry according to your educational background. We include a roadmap to success by goal setting outlining courses you need, certifications that are a must, and other things you personally need to do to fill missing gaps to get you noticed by adjusting firms and carriers as well during our career coaching session. Just email us if you are interested in individual career coaching along with the class to maximize your future career potential. (Contact info found on About page on this blog)

If you are not a member of ClaimSmentor, you are welcome to register and join us for this next class if you are an independent or staff adjuster trainee or fairly new adjuster looking for more in depth training.  (Registration info found on About us page on this blog)


Luck…Where Preparation Meets Opportunity- Published 2/08 in Claims Education Magazine

February 5, 2008

Here is my article published by Claims Education Magazine in the February 2008 Edition. Eric Gilkey advises that there is not an online version of this magazine produced by National Underwriter’s on a Quarterly basis ( a supplement to Claims Magazine monthly issues). I really appreciate Eric inviting me to contribute to the February issue. The article follows:

Luck: Where

Preparation Meets

Opportunity

 

By Deborah K Moroy, AIC, IIA

he New Year is only weeks behind us: A time of reflection on our lives and the choices we have made which lie behind us and the future at our doorstep with many new forks in the road and new decisions to make regarding our future careers.

 

So what is your chosen preference when making those life altering decisions in your claims career? Will you leave your fate to a game of chance, of lucky breaks and opportunities? Do you prefer a more effective planned approach to advancing your career with your present employer or gaining new positions through effective planning?

 

It is truly amazing that the more you plan, prepare, and proactively participate in both formal and informal career enhancing opportunities the luckier you get! A favorite quote of mine via an unknown author is “Luck: where preparation meets opportunity.” This has stuck with me throughout my career in claims as I watched this come true time and time again in the lives of fellow adjusters and managers. Today, through my online volunteer project with ClaimSmentor , I have constant interaction with both experienced and inexperienced adjusters and claim managers and the findings haven’t changed. Those putting their best preparation foot forward are the same individuals with all the luck! Sure there may be those rare occasions where the “who you know is more important that what you know,” but those gems are few and far between.

 

What can you be doing to turn your luck around? Prepare. It’s that simple. Apply yourself to the many opportunities available for gathering educational achievements, for obtaining a mentor, for completing continuing education that is important to adjusting firm owners and, more importantly, to the insurance carriers they serve.

 

Other steps necessary if you are truly going to make a difference in your career success this year include removing excuses, planning a path to remove obstacles in your way that have stopped you from achieving your dreams in the past, assessing what courses and job opportunities are out there and what requirements they include, and being determined to make 2008 your lucky year. We all have issues, both minor and major, which stand in our way if we let them. It’s those folks who overcome these issues who succeed.

 

I am one of the fortunate folks who had a father with a strong commitment to education and overcoming all odds, who supported me and my career goals. Every time life got in the way and I wanted to quit college where I attended night school as a single parent while holding down a full-time claim adjuster position, he encouraged me to go one more quarter. He walked the talk himself by beginning a military career in the Navy at the lowest entry level seaman position, retiring 35 years later as a commander. Was it luck that got him that far? Hardly! With a growing family of eight children, the death of one of our siblings during those years, and many military deployments, including Vietnam, he struggled through the hard times, not only achieving his Bachelor’s but also a Master degree, all of which sure made him one lucky man as he progressed up the ranks. Following his lead, I had the same results during my 28-year career with a major carrier, progressing from a mail and file clerk up 16 positions to my last position as a National Catastrophe Claim Team Leader, all due to making continuing education an ongoing priority in my life. I watched this same “luck” as my daughter, at age 24, marched across the stage, graduating number one in her law school class of 500. She had major obstacles and three children less than five years of age to boot! Yes, her friends also told her she was “lucky” to be earning such a great salary.

 

You will run in to other adjusters who tell you obtaining your college degree is not necessary. While this may be partially true for those pursuing careers as independent adjusters, it is not so true should you be interested in a more stable position as a staff adjuster or claim manager. The majority of carriers in the property and casualty industry still require a degree to even get your foot in the door. This is only the beginning. Carriers also expect adjusters and claim managers to be very proactive in continuing education, not only to meet minimum state insurance department continuing education requirements, but also to take what they consider substantial courses, especially through the American Insurance Institute, such as obtaining your Associates in Claims Designation (AIC) or your Chartered Property and Casualty Underwriter (CPCU)  designations. These are the most highly coveted designations and requirements to progress up the corporate ladder in the claim-handling industry.  So don’t let others who are not making the decisions about your career persuade you not to take educational steps that are required to progress in this industry.

 

Look for opportunities to kill two birds with one stone. For example, the Associates in Claims program through the Insurance Institute at http://www.aicpcu.org not only provides you with the AIC designation, but also the opportunity to obtain college credits at the same time. To learn all about this important program that provides you with a good overall background about claims, you can view the program specifics at http://www.aicpcu.org/flyers/aic.htm.  The institute has programs for national college credit through the Academic Credit Recommendations through the American Council on Education (ACE) program. Here is a chart of the semester hour credit recommendations for your undergraduate and graduate degree programs found at:  http://www.aicpcu.org/doc/ace.pdf . They also have a good list of accredited universities they have formed partnerships with for applying your credits towards your degree found at http://www.aicpcu.org/Students/ace.htm.

 

Better yet, do you realize that the majority of carriers and most employers provide funds to overcome the obstacle of affordability by either paying for these courses in advance or reimbursing you upon successful completion of a course or designation? Another great advantage is the fact you can self study for these programs, which allows you substantial more time with your friends and family while at the same time achieving these important claim designations so you too can become one of the lucky ones!

 

What other formal opportunities should you be taking part in so you  can meet opportunities? In addition to obtaining your degree and your AIC or CPCU designations, many experienced claim professionals are members of SCLA, The Society of Claim Law Associates, obtaining their SCLA designation. You can learn more about this valuable program at http://www.sclasociety.org/. My personal experience is that more carriers request the CPCU designation versus the SCLA, but the SCLA is most definitely an impressive qualification to obtain to increase your odds of successful employment and advancement opportunities.

 

Be sure you are investing your time and your budget into designations such as these that will get you the recognition you deserve. You’ll hear of many others in the industry but those listed above are the most coveted by human resource personnel looking for strong candidates for current opportunities. We’ve watched hundreds of adjusters using their entire budget attending independent adjusting firm yearly conferences. These are valuable for networking opportunities and enhancing your technical skills for estimating programs and carrier required certifications, but they do not substitute when applying for a job that requires first your adjuster’s license and your college degree.

 

I had the opportunity to recently review the deposition of an adjusting firm owner given in a Katrina lawsuit. It was interesting to note their criteria for determining those independents deployable, which included in the following order their preference. First and foremost was those independents meeting the qualifications (time, certifications for the carrier, experience level, skills) then came seniority and last, availability. Qualifications was first on the list, as it is in all cases. I didn’t see luck on the list anywhere although they did mention that those meeting the qualifications and referred by others they deploy were also considered. The “who you know” didn’t matter if you first did not meet the qualifications.

 

There are outstanding informal opportunities to also improve your odds. An interesting article I read recently even mentions taking up golf due to the excellent friendships and networking opportunities provided. Any adjuster reviewing claim conference agendas, whether at a large conference or a vendor seminar, will see they always include a golf outing.

 

We strongly recommend memberships in your local claim association. You will find invaluable opportunities to meet claim managers and other adjusters in your local community who have the inside track on current opportunities in your area. These associations also are an excellent source for obtaining your continuing education credits required by your state licensing bureau. For a complete list of claim associations, you can find one near you on this link at http://www.claimspages.com/data/associations.asp.

Consider attendance at the some or all of the following important claim conventions for outstanding informal opportunities to meet others in the industry while at the same time achieving educational objectives for state CE credits:

 

K   Florida Windstorm conference: http://www.windnetwork.com

K   ACE annual convention: cms.nationalunderwriter.com/cms/ace/website/About+the+Event/

K   National Catastrophe Adjusters:  http://www.nacatadj.org/Convention08/Conv08TopPage.aspx

K   PLRB  Conferences:  http://www.claimsconf.org/

K   NAIIA National Assn. of Independent Adjusters: http://www.naiia.com/evitem.cfm?ID=788

K   III Institute Claims Education Conference: claimseducationconference.com/2008/.

 

Most importantly, be sure to tie your accomplishments adequately into the information provided in your resume. During the course of interviews with many candidates, we are able to secure many valuable facts regarding their background we had no idea about based on their resume document. It is significant that you include all information outlining your accomplishments and the types of claims you have experience handling. Don’t assume anything. It is important that you spell out the assignments you have had, the carriers you have worked for, the carriers you have obtained claim certifications for, the estimating programs you are capable of using, the specifics on the types of claims you have handled, such as residential, commercial, inland marine, steep/two story, manufactured homes, small retail and business, condominium, and automobile losses. If you don’t tell them, you may be quickly overlooked for a “luckier” adjuster who was more thorough providing information regarding their background and what they could bring to the table.

 

So what will you do with 2008? Sit back and let luck and fate have it’s way with your claim-handling career, or will you too make a commitment to yourself to be more proactive in making your preparation make you the “lucky “ one selected for the next opportunity you are interested in being considered for?  

Deborah Moroy , AIC, IIA, is president of Dimechimes Corp., a nationwide claim staffing and recruiting company for independent adjusting firms and insurance carriers. She can be reached at 850-502-4261, Dkmoroy@dimechimes.com.

 

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If you are interested in subscribing to the Claims Education magazine, feel free to contact Eric Gilkey- the Managing Editor- his login id is EGilkey or his direct email is egilkey@NUCO.com. Eric- should there be a preferred method of subscribing, please post below. Thank you AGAIN Eric! Deb

For links to our other previously published articles click here:

https://dimechimes.wordpress.com/about/

Thank you all for your patience as I’ve been absent from blog entries due to a 2nd round of operations on my daughter due to the recurrence of her tumor. Blogs should be back on track regularly we hope from now on. We appreciate all of the prayers for her rapid recovery.


Tomorrow is Postmark Deadline to get applications in to join NACA-National Assn of Catastrophe Adjusters

November 14, 2007

Special Thanks to President Woody Britton of NACA- National Association of Catastrophe Adjusters for providing us an update that tomorrow is the deadline to get your applications in for membership for this year. Here is a portion of his email which explains:

“If you get time, tomorrow is the deadline for NACA membership applications to be post marked, maybe drop a reminder in the pot for everyone. The class schedule for the convention is on line and the classes are filling well, so we are trying to encourage everyone to get going on registering. I know it has been slow, but these are the years that we need to stick together and meet with other adjusters and the vendors to try and get our names on their lists.”
 
We have an ongoing very popular topic over at ClaimSmentor for those blog readers who are members there.

In addition to tomorrow’s deadline to apply for 2008 membership, we strongly
encourage all adjusters, adjusting firms, carrier members, and other vendors
supporting the claim industry to participate in this year’s annual NACA
convention to be held in January 2008 in Myrtle Beach, SC. I had the pleasure to
attend the convention in 2007 in Dallas, TX and have become a strong supporter
of their program after experiencing the quality of the educational and
networking opportunities at their convention which was equivalent to attending
an annual major insurance carrier claim convention during my 28 years in claims
as staff.

Here is a link to the upcoming 2008 educational opportunities for the January 2008 convention taking place in Myrtle Beach, SC along with a few additional words from President Woody Britton:

“Enclosed is the link to the NACA educational sessions at this year’s convention. The classes this year are excellent. We also have lined up the accreditation for California Earthquake Authority.  This is the mandatory class you have to take prior to handling claims for them.

Overall, we are excited for the classes and the networking possibilities. It is a great arena to meet fellow adjusters and network your talents and skills to the vendors, face to face.

We look forward to seeing you there!!”

http://www.nacatadj.org/Convention08/event_schedule.aspx

____________________
Woody Britton, AIC

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Please let NACA know you were referred by ClaimSmentor/Dimechimes Corporation Adjuster Information Blog…Thanks!

Here’s a link to our exhibitor booth from last January’s convention. For you www.Catadjuster.org fans…it’s a great chance to meet owner Roy Cupps at the convention in the Crawford booth


Auto Adjuster Claim Training- What options do I have?

October 11, 2007

One of the interesting aspects of owning a website or blog is reading the user statistics on what search terms bring users to your website. One of the most frequently used search phrases we often get on both this blog and my staffing firm website  is “Auto Claim Training” so today we are going to concentrate on that topic.

Adjusters in our ClaimSmentor forums often ask if they should train as auto adjusters in addition to the training they are doing on property claims. If you are looking at it from the aspect of working as an independent and expanding the value you have to bring to the table to adjusting firms and carriers, the answer is a definite YES! I do recommend first you complete your training first on property claims if that is where your primary interest lies as it is of utmost importance you first do a great job in your primary area of expertise such as residential claims. I’ll blog in the next week on my favorite picks on property claim training options for new adjusters with some online options, self study training options, and field classes and schools but for today, let’s concentrate on the auto side of things!

First, why learn auto claim handling? Let’s look at some statistics on recent storms in 2007 to give you an idea on the number of auto claims reported versus property claims so you have a true perspective on the opportunities to work auto claim losses. Click HERE to see a Claims Journal article from August 2007 regarding a major hailstorm in Colorado which says in part:

“The Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association says insurance companies expect claims from nearly 5,200 homeowners and 11,000 car owners.”

These are not isolated numbers as it is very common to see these kind of loss statistics on auto versus property claims during a storm. Matter of fact, here are some interesting numbers from the Insurance Information Institute in this article stating that $68.00 of every $100.00 in auto insurance premiums is used to pay claims. This article also attributes 25% of the comprehensive claims on the auto policy are for theft losses. Claims for property damage account for $16 for collision, another $16 for property damage liability, and $7 for the comprehensive claims for a total of about $40.00 of these claim dollars going to property claims when you add in the other expense dollars shown in this report. Unbelievably the attorneys fees are 11% of the $68.00 claim dollars split evenly between plaintiff and defense counsel according to this report linked above.

Claims Magazine ran a very good article in the October 2007 issue regarding a survey with auto repair facilities polling them on their complaints with insurance carriers on auto claims. Here is a link to this article. This article lists “Lack of field staff training” first on the list and then lists the 3 worst carrier offenders according to the shops survey results. Having worked for an excellent carrier, I was surprised to see some of these negative results for carriers such as Progressive listed as the worst offender at training (in the eyes of the repair shops surveyed). Take the time to read the rest of this survey on other topics as the carriers involved might just surprise you! I’d also previously posted a bad faith article on the Merlin Law Group website and carrier training is one of the issues listed in this article as a reason for bad faith claims against carriers. In today’s environment, I’m amazed to see this as even an issue since all carriers should have training as a top priority. As a staff claim employee, we often cross trained between the auto claims department and the property claims division especially in the catastrophe claim divisions when there may not have been enough work to keep auto catastrophe adjusters busy year round. In 1985, all fire adjusters went to auto school and property adjusters to auto school! That effort to switch us around lasted about 1 year when property adjusters wanted to paint cars by the square foot like a wall! (Just kidding but the project ended and we returned to our former positions when they felt it was best to let auto folks do what they knew best and fire adjusters do their residential estimating they did best,etc).

Here is an example of an auto staff adjuster opportunity with Farmers Insurance. You will see that while they prefer a 4 year degree, they will accept those with a 2 year Associates degree and substitute auto body management experience or lead estimator experience for the degree requirements. Just as with staff homeowner positions, each carrier will differ on their requirements. Here is also an article you will find interesting about Nationwide Insurance indicating they were reducing homeowners policies and concentrating on auto…another reason in the “Who moved my Claims Cheese” blog series comments as a reason to consider auto claim training to find an additional source of claim assignments when the property side remains slow. I constantly keep my eye on all job opportunities on the staff side as well as the independent side to post in our Career Forum on ClaimSmentor and recently have seen alot of postings for Auto property and liability adjusters as well as for claim managers. Just two companies that come to mind are Safeco and Farmers with recent postings. I can also tell you from an independent staffing position, I am thrilled to receive resumes from multi line adjusters who can work residential property AND liability AND auto claims as they are most useful for adjusting firms who can utilize them for all operations as needed. It’s definitely something to consider!

Here is a list of some of the auto claim training options we are aware of you may wish to consider if you are an independent requiring training. Today, we’ll limit that training information to property claim training on the auto side. We’ll have further blog information on liability training on the residential and auto side down the road. Just as with property claims, you need your adjuster’s license first and foremost. After that follows policy training and auto estimatic training as well as auto file requirement training. Auto has many sections of the auto policy to learn. I remember years ago attending a 3 week auto claim training school and finding the policy very frustrating to deal with for a homeowner adjuster. We are used to a coverage section and an exclusion section while the auto policy had many subsections each with their own insuring agreement and exclusions. Testing without an open policy was a true nightmare trying to remember which section applied to which test question,etc. The point I am making here is to make sure you don’t make the mistake that some new property adjusters make thinking that estimatics is all you need to know!

Wardlaw Claims- I list this first as one of their instructors, Tim Whiteman, is a member of ClaimSmentor and has been very supportive of our online mentoring program as well as the fact several of our participating adjusters have taken their Auto classes and highly recommended them. I particularly like the fact that they handle property AND liability claim training at their school in Waco,TX and the cost of the programs looks very reasonable. I note there are auto training classes that Tim is teaching listed for October and November on the auto training classes.Here is a link:

Wardlaw Claims
Auto training classes: http://www.wardlawtraining.com/wctc_classroom.cfm?Value1=3
( Maximum cost is $550 for Auto Claim school)
Auto Self Study classes: http://www.wardlawtraining.com/wctc_selfstudy.cfm (Unbelievably priced at less than 24.00 each)

Pacesetter Claims: http://www.pacesetterclaims.com/PCSTech1.aspx

You need to call them for their latest training schedule. I’d ask for Jim Shrewsbury-VP of Claims in the Auto Division who is also a member of ClaimSmentor.

Crawford and Company
Tractor and Trailer Appraisal School- for adjusters with 3 years of auto experience http://www.crawfordandcompany.com/content.aspx?CID=736&SID=2

Vale National School Neil Robertson in the Fresno, CA branch is a ClaimSmentor member if you want a contact there
( Auto Estimatics only) Cost $1,095. There are 3 locations to choose from.
www.valenational.com/

CNC Resources– Mobile, AL Ask for Becky Leckband, Hr Director for class schedule- she is a member of ClaimSmentor
www.cnc-resource.com/

Southern Farm Bureau Tech– Tractor Trailer School
Auto Claim Training- 3 week program http://www.farmbureautech.com/physical%20damage%20estimating.html
2007 Course Schedule http://www.farmbureautech.com/2007_course_schedule.htm

Worley Adjusting Company

While I don’t see a current Auto Basic Claims Class on the current schedule, they did hold one in March 07 so you might want to contact them for more information on the next class

http://www.worleyco.com/trainingdivision.php

Here’s a link to a prior Accident Reconstruction CE course you may want to contact them for the next class since it is 7 hours of TX CE’s:

http://www.marules.com
http://www.claimspages.com/calendar/viewEvent.asp?RecNo=952

While looking into a career in Auto claims, you might also want to check out this Independent Auto Appraisers group at www.iada.org. They held an interesting automotive repair conference in FL in 07 and I see they have the next scheduled for 2008 in Las Vegas. They have some great links on their site for NADA book values and other useful links for Auto Adjusters and Auto Claims Representatives.

There does seem to be advancement opportunity in the Auto Claims field atleast from the staff adjuster standpoint. Here is a link to a recent job with Travelers Insurance for Training managers to train new auto adjusters as just one of many examples.

Fee payments to auto adjusters differs from independent fee schedules we previously blogged about. From the staffing requests we have received, they seem to pay by the vehicle inspected and payment depends on whether you inspect the damage in a carrier drive in or catastrophe operation or if you inspect it at a body shop or other storage facility for non driveable cars. The ranges we are getting are $75.00 per drive in inspection average with the carrier setting the drive in appointments about 30 minutes apart. One such position scheduled 20 appointments per day through the drive in. Remember you will be splitting that fee with the adjusting firm somewhere along the lines of a 60/40 split. The field appointments have averaged about $150.00 per inspection with similar splits. I’ll be interviewing a few Auto Independent Claim managers and blogging about their input on income for auto independent adjusters. I read many forum posts saying there isn’t enough auto work to keep them busy but during 2007 we’ve had as many auto requests for staffing as we have for property so I’m not sure that is true overall in the industry. It is also important to note that normally carrier auto management decisions are made by a seperate group of claim executives on the Auto side so just because the property side may not be using independents does not necessarily mean the auto side will not be. We’ve been working along side an adjusting firm on a consultant standpoint on marketing in recent weeks and it seems our leads are generating more offers for auto independent assignments than property as well. I do believe this in part is due to the fact there are much less adjusting firms willing to take the auto claims versus property as the fee billings are significantly less. We do have several auto associates who also differ with that opinion as they have been fortunate to get multitudes of claims from car dealership carriers for hail damage to vehicles on the lot and to commercial fleets of vehicles. It certainly remains worth exploring these opportunities.

I’ll post a supplement to this blog tomorrow adding additional information. Forgive any format problems as I’m on a Mac today and it’s been difficult going back and forth between websites not being used to the features on this system. I’m counting the days until our computers are set up here!


Insurance Adjuster Overtime Pay Issues and Complaints in the news

September 24, 2007

I’ve been trying to find time to write about the big ongoing question about adjuster overtime pay and a related issue on the commonly asked question ” am I an independent or am I an employee”.  The new suit brought by two AIG adjusters   in September 2007 again brings this topic to the forefront and we’ll watch this case to see if anything new develops to help us understand these issues. We would appreciate any comments by employment attorneys to help us clarify these issues. Today we will provide information on the overtime issue and tomorrow we’ll blog about the Independent adjuster vs employee questions which we are frequently asked about by adjusters when signing independent adjusting firm contracts.

Here is a link to the news article about the AIG adjusters new suit. Here is also a link to the Bloomberg article on this new suit.It’s not just carrier staff adjusters and employees filing these suits as this article shows adjusting firms are the subject of such suits also in this article saying Pilot Catastrophe  Services  also received a Complaint in 2004. I’d like to know how the adjusting firm case was resolved but could find no information on the web about the outcome of the case.

The AAICP -American Association of Independent Claims Professionals wrote an excellent article on this overtime issue in June 2004 found here. This article in part says:

“Insurance claims adjusters are still exempt from federal overtime requirements under the United States’ Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division’s final version of the controversial changes to the white collar exemption regulations. As requested by the American Association of Independent Claims Professionals (AAICP), an association of independent claims adjusting companies, the Labor Department specifically noted in the new regulations that claims adjusters are generally exempt from overtime pay requirements regardless of what kind of company they may work for – an insurance company or an independent. The new regulations also make some adjustments to exempt salary requirements that may affect claims adjusters, including raising the minimum exempt salary and creating a new pseudo-presumption of exempt status for higher wage-earners.”

Here is more important information in this article:

“As requested by the AAICP, the new regulations specifically use insurance claims adjusters as an example of an exempt administrative employee:

Insurance claims adjusters generally meet the duties requirements for the administrative exemption, whether they work for an insurance company or other type of company , if their duties include activities such as interviewing insureds, witnesses and physicians; inspecting property damage; reviewing factual information to prepare damage estimates; evaluating and making recommendations regarding coverage of claims; determining liability and total value of a claim; negotiating settlements; and making recommendations regarding litigation.  ”

Please read the full article for other important details.

Here is another article from the AFL CIO which specifically addresses insurance adjusters and overtime issues which concurs with the article from AAICP stating in part:

“Insurance claims adjusters—Again, court cases on whether insurance claims employees receive overtime pay have gone both ways—some courts have said they are exempt and other have said they should receive overtime pay. This is a very heavily-litigated field, and corporations have not been able to win a blanket victory. The Bush Administration has handed them that victory by changing the nationwide regulation to specify that these employees are generally disqualified from receiving overtime pay. (New Section 541.203(a)) A quarter of insurance claims adjusters make less than $35,000 a year. “

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In a more recent case involving Farmers, White and Case provides this analysis of an overtime case in multiple states in this February 2007 article on Farmers prevailing in a case on the claim adjuster overtime issues. Here is the link to their article.

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One of the most excellent articles I could find (here)is  from Holland and Knight in December 2006 which addresses the duties of adjusters who alleged use of computer estimating systems and claim manual among other things took away their individual judgment thus they were entitled to overtime pay. Some important comments in this article include:

 

 

“The Farmers claims adjusters asserted that they were not exempt from the overtime pay requirements because the work that they performed was part of the “production” side of the business, not the “administrative” side. They also argued that because they had to follow claims manuals and guidelines, and use computer programs to determine loss values, they did not exercise sufficient “discretion” and “independent judgment” to fall within the exemption.The trial court found that all of the claims adjusters were doing “administrative” work; that is, that their role was on the administrative side of the business, not the “production” side. In addition, the trial court found that most of the claims adjusters used a sufficient amount of discretion and independent judgment in their work to qualify for the exemption. However, the trial court found that some claims adjusters, such as automobile adjusters and adjusters who mostly handled claims less than $3,000, had to follow so many guidelines and rules that they did not exercise an adequate amount of discretion and independent judgment to meet the exemption”. 

I found this article addressing the size of the claim particularly interesting in light of all of the claim central operations handling smaller losses.

Here is another good article by the Jackson Lewis firm from November 2006 outlining more duties of adjusters and providing more information on the Ninth Circuit ruling that claims adjusters are exempt from overtime pay while noting that CA courts reached opposite conclusions. This brings us to this September 19, 2007 article  here by National Underwriters discussing some recent CALIFORNIA cases where Allstate, State Farm, and Farmers agreed to pay millions on other cases out there. Is this because they are cases in CA subject to other laws or is it because of overtime regulation interpretations prior to the new overtime rules of the Federal Labor Standards Act?

This MSNBC article here from August 2004 explains what changed with the new overtime regulations when they went into force. I’m not an employment attorney so I am not sure of the answer to this question as to why some carriers were settling these cases but it may be due to the regulations in CA differing as an article  addessing several CA cases settled by carriers in Los Angeles Business Journal explains here. 

 Here is an interesting article from October 2006 by CFO.com indicating the 2004 update to the FLSA has increased the confusion on overtime pay and the number of suits filed. Particularly interesting on page 3 of this article is the list of FLSA auditor “red flags” indicating things they look for to see if a firm is in violation of overtime issues such as having all employees on salary versus some time card employees. Adjusting firms should read this article.

The bottom line in all of these articles seems to verify that adjusters are not entitled to overtime pay with the exception of CA (see this 2nd article here from Holland Knight on CA regs opposed to Federal regs) . I’d make sure your adjusting firm is compliant on these issues especially during catastrophe operations when many firms are working employees at the required carrier hours of 7am-7pm 6 or 7 days per week. Check with your employment attorney to verify you have your firm properly classifying your employees and adjusters. There are many new in office programs adjusting firms are participating in such as running call centers, using an increased number of adjusters in claim central operations at carrier catastrophe centers, running additional living expense and contents claim units from their adjusting firm home offices or field catastrophe centers.

Due to the increased number of suits as a result of the new 2004 FLSA decisions as indicated in these articles, it appears wise to get a legal opinion on your overtime decisions BEFORE your firm is subject to such a complaint. Review of this Department of Labor article found here says it best:

 “The status of an insurance claims adjuster, however, does not rely on the “claims adjuster” job title alone.  There must be a case-by-case assessment to determine whether the employee’s duties meet the requirements for exemption. “

In my earlier years as a staff adjuster, we were never paid overtime pay except when moved to “time card” status while attending claim schools as they advised us training status required overtime pay while normal work did not. We were never paid overtime as claim managers in line field units, claim central operations, or while serving as catastrophe claim managers working 7 days per week 12 hours per day. In more recent years when performing temporary catastrophe management duties with independent adjusting firms, they also paid us on salary with no overtime. I can assure you in both staff and independent positions that adjusters normally work far beyond a 40 hour work week to keep up with carrier performance guidelines and Department of Insurance mandated deadlines during catastrophes. This 28 year carrier career was all prior to 2002 with the independent experiences from 2003 to the  present.

 I am curious what adjusters today (after the 2004 changes) are experiencing on these salary, time card, and overtime issues and hope to hear from many of you in reply to this blog. Please list your position, your state of employment, your carrier or adjusting firm, and your method of pay both for regular 40 hours and overtime. Should you not wish to comment in the blog, you can send emails to us and I can post your input anonymously in reply to this blog. We’ll also post this in our  forums at ClaimSmentor for continuing ongoing discussions with our members.


Defusing an angry Insured-Dealing with Dinosaur Brain lizard logic thinking co-workers

September 15, 2007

Continuing yesterday’s discussion regarding adjuster safety concerns in this blog, we thought we’d recommend a few good books for adjusters by Albert Bernstein, Ph.D. who is a clinical psychologist dealing with explosive people for over 30 years. His books are outstanding.

Here is a link to his website with many of his books listed and links for purchasing.

Years ago as a staff manager, someone recommended his book titled “Dinosaur Brains” which is definitely entertaining and full of great advice for dealing with troublesome relationships at work with both bosses and co-workers. Here is a link to some information on the book. You’ll love the Lizard Logic and fight or flight information. Here’s a sample of it from his website. It helped me put things in perspective when dealing with some emotionally charged situations with co-workers, staff adjusters reporting to my department, or some executive level managers who drove me nuts from time to time with unrealistic demands and the results were amazing making for a much smoother work life in the stress filled pressured environment we often find ourselves in dealing with catastrophe claims assignments when nerves are shot after months on the road. This book takes a very funny look at difficult work relationships and how to deal with them that you’ll find both informative and entertaining!

We also recommend his book on “How to deal with emotionally explosive People” ….here’s a link. Bernstein has great tips on Defusing Anger  here which provides some good advice adjusters should utilize when dealing with an emotionally charged situation while out in the field or over the phone on claims.

A third recommendation is his book “Neanderthals at Work”..here’s a link which explains the many different types of personalities and motivations people have for getting ahead at work. It’s a must read for career oriented adjusters!

Carriers do not expect you take abuse from insureds using profanity, physical threats, and other forms of abuse. If you haven’t already, you should participate in seminars on dealing with customer service issues. You can’t just slam the phone down on an insured who is spewing profanity or get in a free-for- all out in the field. One of the most common explosive situations occurs when public adjusters try to push a staff adjuster or independent adjuster or manager over the edge. There are professional ways to handle these explosive situations. We hope these books will be a start to a good background in dealing with these issues.

We’ll provide links to some great online classes on these soft skills next week. Many a manager who mentored me as I came through the staff ranks said they would much rather train a person with good people skills on the technical aspects of adjusting than take an experienced employee with poor people skills and try to teach them how to deal better with insureds. After years in management, I’d have to agree with these former mentors. Poor people skills leads to increased complaints to the agents, the regional carrier offices, and to insurance department complaints that can overwhelm any busy manager. I hope to see an increase at adjusting firm seminars about customer service with reality based discussions on the many issues facing adjusters both in the field and in claim central operations. We are working on a self study guide specific to independent adjuster’s on these issues and will post that in the coming weeks.

Other self study guides are available on the training page of our staffing firm website here.

We’ll be back Wednesday for our next blog as we’ll be out of town on business through Tuesday…see you back then!


Category 7 by Bill Evans – Book Review

August 23, 2007

Need to “change your brain” as my mother likes to say after all that heavy duty reading on the whistleblower cases ?

Adjuster Donald Johnston shares information about this new book out by Bill Evans he highly recommends for reading with our membership!

Here is a link to information on this new book I located on the web:

http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/Books/story?id=3362114&page=1

This looks like interesting reading for those of us who love catastrophe adjusting and it should provide more reason to support the need for carriers, independents, and politicians to work together to make sure events like the horrors witnessed in the aftermath of Katrina never happens to Americans again.

Maybe if we’re lucky…..Bill Evans will see this blog and send us a few autographed copies for our ClaimSmentor Roving Reporters to evaluate the book! (Include an extra for me if you do Bill!)


Crisis Intervention while Catastrophe Adjusting by guest blogger Steve Ebner

August 16, 2007

We welcome our first guest blogger, Steve Ebner, to our Dimechimes Corporation Adjuster Information Blog. Steve and I share a common background in both staff, independent, and catastrophe adjusting. Steve is also a valued member of ClaimSmentor and CADO.

Steve Ebner has a Master of Divinity degree and is a former United Methodist minister and chaplain at Methodist hospital in Philadelphia.  His second career as a claim adjuster began in 1990, when a claim superintendent at State Farm had the foresight to realize that someone with training in crisis counseling may have skills that would be valuable in claim adjusting.  Steve has been an independent catadjuster since 1998.  He has worked large and small commercial, homeowners, mobile home, and occasional auto claims.  He has worked both the property and casualty claims.  His home base is near Scranton, PA.

Here is Steve’s outstanding blog entry contribution on Catastrophe Adjusting and Crisis Intervention. We felt this article was timely with the peak of hurricane season approaching and the difficulties adjusters face personally as well as while dealing with insureds suffering many personal tragedies caused by storm damage:

Cat Adjusting and Crisis Intervention by Steve Ebner (Medulus@aol.com)  

As cat adjusters we fill a certain niche in the insurance industry in that we are often called to serve those who have experienced some level of crisis.  While this is in some measure true of any adjuster, it may be more intense and widespread during a cat event.

We are not counselors, nor should we attempt to be.  However, it would be helpful for us to have some understanding of crisis intervention to inform our claim handling.  This will only serve to help us settle claims more fairly and finally, and to add another dimension to our ultimate goal of indemnification – returning the insured to a position of wholeness.  More often than we realize, the policyholders we encounter expect us to be agents to assist them in recovering from the crisis they have experienced.  A savvy adjuster will look beyond the surface and see some of the factors that make settlement of claims more difficult in a crisis situation.  Further, they will attempt to address those factors and concerns to the extent it is appropriate for us to do so.  I would like to try to address the concepts of crisis intervention in a somewhat simplistic manner, and relate these concepts to catadjusting.  In this article I will only be scratching the surface.

Let me explain some of the emotional/psychological scenarios we could face by way of an example from my own life.  I was living in Santa Monica, CA, when the Northridge Earthquake struck.  Santa Monica, because it is near the ocean and built on sandy soil, experienced liquefaction more than any other city located more than ten miles from the epicenter.  At about four o’clock in the morning of Martin Luther King Day 1994, my ten year old daughter shook me awake and said, “Dad! Hurry! Get in the doorway!  It’s an earthquake!”  I woke to see my two children and the two children who were staying overnight huddling in the doorway.  The house continued to shake for another very long minute.  The electricity was out.  When the shaking stopped I went into my bedroom. My floor to ceiling bookshelves were all tipped over.  Every one of my over four hundred books was on the floor in a jumble we had to crawl over.  I then tried to put the children back to bed.  But every couple minutes the earth shook again – over and over and over.  No one was going to get any more sleep that morning in the apartment.  About an hour later the panicked mother of the two visiting children arrived to pick them up.  She had been unable to open her garage to get her car out.  There were no phones or electricity working.  Then my children and I went out to the car to sleep because it seemed the safest place to be. 

My workplace had all the windows broken out.  The building was off limits for some time.  There was a curfew in affect the first night.  But that was not a problem because most people were in shock, and didn’t want to go out anywhere anyway.  By the second night, most of the bars were open and packed to capacity.  In the first week many new couples were formed because no one wanted to sleep or live alone anymore.  And the ground kept shaking again and again for months afterward.  Every time it did, people would exit the buildings they were in.  People started talking about moving elsewhere, about how they didn’t like living in Los Angeles anymore.  Every time I closed my eyes and started to drift off to sleep, I would get a sensation that the ground was shaking and it would wake me up.  Every street became as congested as the freeways had been before the earthquake.

As you can imagine, people living in this type of environment are not going to have the same expectations as people living under normal circumstances.  Some may very well make demands beyond the norm of their claim adjuster.

What constitutes a crisis?

I should begin by defining what a crisis is.  The term “catastrophe” as defined by the insurance industry is not synonymous with “crisis” as defined in psychological terms.  “Crisis” has a personal component.  As another adjuster pointed out to me this week, a crisis has more to do with the person experiencing the loss than the size of the loss itself or, for that matter, the number of people affected.  We might find that some people react to almost any severe weather event as a crisis.  However, certain events – for example a hailstorm – are generally not a crisis.  In most cases, no one is injured or killed.  For some it may lead to a personal crisis, but this will be the rare individual.  The hailstorm, however, could be declared a catastrophe because a cat is declared based on the expected dollar cost to the insurance industry. 

Crisis has been defined as “an acute response to an event wherein homeostasis is disrupted, one’s usual coping mechanisms have failed, and there is evidence of significant distress or functional impairment” (Critical Incident Stress Management, Everly & Mitchell, 1999)  We often find insureds who are in this situation after a hurricane such as Katrina or Ivan.  People who, for instance, might normally be rather even-keeled and unflappable may very well be in some level of panic after their roof is blown off or after they have been living in a motel for a month.  Instead they are wondering when they can return to their home or their job.  The “Big Easy” was not taking life so easy by September and October of 2005. 

A Simple Discussion On Working With Someone In Crisis

As catadjusters we are in a position to be of significant assistance to those who are experiencing crisis.  Crisis Intervention, as a counseling discipline, focuses on very practical considerations.  It focuses on identifying resources for recovery.  We are one of those resources.  As adjusters we can be of great assistance in helping policyholders recover a sense of normalcy – the ultimate goal of any type of crisis intervention.  As I have mentioned in my previous article on CADO, I was an ordained minister for more than a decade.  I have sometimes described catadjusting as “ministry with a checkbook.”  More than any other type of emotional intervention, crisis intervention focuses on the practical.

By examining the definition of “crisis” above we can extrapolate what must happen in order to bring some sort of wholeness to the lives of those we serve.  The first element of the definition is that crisis is an acute response.  It is intense but not permanent.  Though it may seem to the insureds that their lives have been permanently changed in a dramatic manner, the fact is that the precipitating catastrophe has created a temporary situation.  While it would be ill-advised for any of us to flippantly tell someone whose house has been destroyed that this is just a temporary situation, there are nonetheless ways to assure someone that they will recover.  Without overstating the case, it is appropriate to explain to the insured that the insurance carrier exists to help the insured return to a normal life after such a crisis.  The fostering of hope is very important when things seem hopeless to those in crisis.  It can also be appropriate to remind the insured of other resources such as FEMA, The Salvation Army, and The Red Cross.  It is inappropriate, however, for us to tell them specifically what these other agencies can do for them.  We do not speak on behalf of any of these other agencies.  We represent the insurance carrier solely.  We must especially never send them to another agency for anything covered by the insurance policy.  Our first responsibility is to include all covered or potentially covered loss elements in our claim reports with our best analysis of coverage.

The second element of the definition is that homeostasis is disrupted.  Even the most creative or disorganized among us tend to follow certain routines that help us structure our lives.  There is some element of similarity in what we do each day.  The precipitating crisis event disrupts this.  If water supplies have been disrupted, the insureds may not even be able to brush their teeth easily upon waking up.  Their routine of watching a television program or reading the paper in the evening may be impossible due to an electrical outage.  They may have no workplace, no mail delivery, no open markets, no open restaurants.  The corner bar where they meet and talk to their neighbors may be closed.  They may be staying in a shelter, sleeping among hundreds of strangers with whom they share facilities.  They may temporarily have no privacy.  This will be particularly difficult for the introverts among them. 

To the best of our ability, we are in the business of helping people restore normalcy to their lives.  Those in crisis are looking to us for answers about when and how life will ever be the same again.  For some, it never will be the same.  There will only be different routines that will create a new normalcy.  We can help, once again, by focusing on the practical processes that will help to create some semblance of order in their lives.

The third element of the definition is that, for someone in crisis, normal coping mechanisms have failed.  What usually works for people to deal with stress in their environment no longer works.  This is particularly true in a major catastrophe.  When someone’s workplace is not accessible, the normal cash flow for a family is disrupted.  The home that provided shelter and comfort is no longer a place of guaranteed safety.  The goal of crisis intervention then, for us as catastrophic claim adjusters, is to help the insured identify means of coping with their new reality.  This may be in the form of assisting them to locate and pay for alternative housing, to rebuild what was destroyed, and replace what was lost.  It has often been expressed on CADO that our job as adjusters is to find coverage wherever it exists and allow for all that we can under the terms of the policy.  Some of the coverage afforded by the insurance policy may not be familiar to the policyholder.  It is our job to know what can be afforded to them in order to help them recover.  In this way we become part of the solution, and fulfill the contractual promise the insurance carrier makes when the insured buys a policy.

The fourth element of the definition is that the person in crisis is exhibiting severe distress or functional impairment.  Though this is the final element of the definition, it is often the first with which we must deal.  This means that when we encounter that policyholder who seems stressed out, unfocused, and scattered we may not be dealing with that policyholder operating in their normal mode of behavior.  This insured may not simply be a “crazy person”.  He or she may be a perfectly sane and rational person who in the midst of a crisis.  The very nature of a crisis is that it disrupts someone’s life and emotional state.  We have all had the experience where we greet the insured at the front door and suddenly it is as if we have entered a vortex.  The insured starts leading us around the house pointing to this and that area of damage faster than any human being could write down the scope of damage, let alone measure it.  Or the insured may continue to tell us all the horrible things that occurred on the day of the storm, or insist on talking continually so we cannot even concentrate on our work.  Then they call each day with some new damage they located or something else they forgot to tell us.  They may exhibit unusual behavior like walking through their house with a flashlight looking for fresh plaster cracks each night.  This is not their typical mode of behavior.  This is likely to be a result of the very catastrophe we are there to help them work through.  This may be because their world no longer feels safe, and they feel powerless to make it safe again.

It is not our job to help them through the emotional component of the crisis, but we need to at least defuse the anxiety long enough to do our job and to obtain the insured’s assistance in scoping the damage.  The first tip I have is that it will benefit us greatly to practice some empathic listening.  The ceramic outlet covers may seem unimportant to us in the whole scheme of the loss, but if they are important to the insured (because the insured keeps mentioning them) then they should be considered important.  We may discover – as one of our colleagues did – that the tattered old phonograph is the only thing the insured cares about because she used to sit and listen to it with her deceased husband.  The claim may not be settling because you want to take it as salvage.  She may settle the claim if you let her keep it, even though it no longer works.  A bit of empathic listening can reveal important details such as that. 

When working re-opened claims the number one complaint I hear is, “That first adjuster didn’t even listen to me.”  Sometimes I am able to review the estimate with the insured and show them that the concerns they have really are addressed in the estimate.  Therefore, the adjuster really did listen.  But it did not seem to the insured that the adjuster was listening, and that was what re-opened the claim.  The claim adjuster exhibited no empathy.  These people were in crisis and it seemed that no one cared.

The second tip I have here is that it is important not to buy into the panic or the manic behavior.  Speak in a calm and authoritative voice.  Invite the insured to sit down, perhaps, long enough to listen to what is important to them and take control of the situation.  We can accomplish little while being led from room to room frantically by the insured.  We may want to say something like, “Let me explain how the claim process works.”  A colleague explained to me that she spends 10 to 15 minutes with each insured simply listening to them and explaining how the claim process works before moving on to the inspection.  She believes these ten to fifteen minutes saves hours later on.  I believe she is correct.  Apparently, so do the people for whom she works.  She and her husband regularly work even in slow times when others are waiting for the phone to ring.  Most people have never had a claim before and do not know what to expect.  Take a few minutes to explain how you would like to take one room at a time, check that room thoroughly, measure it, and then move on to the next room.  Then explain what will happen with their claim after you leave their house.  This will often save you a time-consuming game of phone tag later.  All this may serve to put the insured at ease and move them gently out of panic mode.  Even if you have ten other inspections that day, it will benefit your scheduling to take a couple extra minutes to help the insured focus on the task at hand.  It may mean the difference between scoping all the damage on the first trip and having to return to this insured’s home to scope something that was missed the first time.  Though you are really not offering any long term emotional help for the insured (because you are not there as a counselor, pastor, or psychiatrist), you are focusing on one of the tasks that will help ultimately resolve the crisis. 

This has been a mere skimming of the surface of the issues involved in working with people in crisis.  I suspect the most important goal I have tried to achieve is simply fostering awareness that we are not dealing with people in a normal situation or normal frame of mind.  Therefore, we may need to be in a state of heightened awareness ourselves, and not simply write people off because of some exhibited bizarre behavior after a major catastrophe.  We are generally paid very well to handle a catastrophe, but we are not really hired to benefit ourselves.  We are hired as a benefit to the insured.  Our problems should be left at the motel so we can focus on the insured’s problems.  A brief study of crisis intervention techniques would serve many of us well.  This should go without saying as we prepare to go into a hurricane zone, but it may not occur to many of us that the emotional result of a storm may have a significant impact on the interaction between the insureds and ourselves – or, ultimately, of the claim settlement process.

  I would like to express my gratitude to those who reviewed this article before publication, and in many cases, contributed something of value which I incorporated into the article.  These people are Pastor Lee Carlton, Peter Burch, Mike Kunze, Deb Moroy, Meg Watts, Steve Beaumont, and Janice Toll. 


Disaster Communication Issues and Expenses ….throw away phones you say?

August 6, 2007

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.