Visit all of our Claims Industry Sites for Claim Job Opportunities and Claims Training Needs- Join us today!

March 14, 2009

 What is ClaimSmentor- we offer claim training, claim staffing , claim job opportunities , and claim networking sites!

 Visit all of our Dimechimes Claim Staffing and Training and ClaimSmentor Social Networking and Claims Industry Services at the following sites. We invite all independent and staff employees of insurance companies to join us at the following websites. 

ClaimSmentor is proudly sponsored by Dimechimes Claim Staffing and Claim
(emphasis is training  and claim consulting through the following social networking venues):

We hope you will visit all of our sites for your training,  employment needs, claims networking, or
staffing needs during 2009.

Make sure to read the announcement on the new
direction of our services made 3/1/09 at any of these websites listed below: 

Our Claim Staffing and Adjuster Services website to include
resume preparation service, individual claim career coaching services, mock
interviews, popular claim industry links, and all contact us information for 
all sites. Reputable adjusting firms, insurance carriers, and claim recruiters join us!

Our open blog on claim industry hot topics.
Includes guest blog entries submitted by our members and industry experts on the
Guest Blog link and our “Just One ClaimSmentor Moment” link for quick entries with
a link to a great news article or hot topic for days we just have no time for
forums or blog entries. You will also find links to all kinds of insurance
industry blogs, websites, estimate software, book reviews and much more. You can
search our archives by topic by using the Category tab in the right column. You
might also want to view the About Us page for links to articles we have had
published in major claims magazines. This blog was created for those who do not
enjoy learning through forum discussions or searching for information you might
need in claims.

Is our open Linkedin profile where
you can connect through our group to other claim industry professionals. We have
found it a valuable tool for adjusting firms and adjusters wanting to join in with
other Insurance Professional groups (click on Groups on the left column on my
profile) and make sure to also join our Dimechimes ClaimSmentor Insurance Claims
Group as well for other contacts. It is also a valuable place for adjusting
firms to announce job opportunities and to make contacts with key executives in
claims with carriers for marketing and for adjusters to complete their profiles
as well so that they too may join primary groups supporting the claims industry.
It is an extremely valuable tool and right now there is no charge to
participate. is our online e-mentoring project for claim industry
members and vendors supporting our industry. ClaimSmentor is our forum
discussion site for hot topics in the claims field, headline new on current
claim litigation issues, links to valuable resources and free tools for
adjusters for organizing their claims inventory, for rosters for member
adjusting firms , and for our online Live classes held regularly. This includes
forums on carrier certification class schedule information, annual claim
conference information, adjusting firm seminars, career forums, policy forms and
endorsement forums, estimate software forums, and online training information.
We will be hosting our first field trips in 2009 for our members in territories
where we have a large number of members. We will be sharing our updated program
in approximately April 2009 with many new features for our members as well as
many new sponsorship opportunities for firms supporting our online mentor
project to work with independent adjusters to keep them updated on the industry
when they are in between assignments. This is a great site for those wishing to
network with members nationwide.  This is our only site that does require a login id.

Here is the link to join us!

We are now 1,010 members strong in our fourth year of networking. 

Social networking has become very popular in today’s environment and we hope
that all of these options to network with members of our groups in these
different venues will assist all of us in our claims industry to share

We appreciate all of the participants in all of our various social networking

Registration Deadline 4/25/08 for Next 40 Hour Fundamentals of Claims Online Live Class

April 23, 2008


We have extended the deadline to register for the Next 40 Hour Fundamentals of Claims Class held Live ONLINE at our e-mentor site  at  ClaimSmentor to April 25, 2008. The class will be held from 6-9pm CST on Monday and Thursday evenings beginning Monday April 28, 2008. If you missed the original posting, here is a link with more information on the class.

I’m always amazed at the feedback from class participants who advise after taking the course how unprepared they actually were to go out on their first assignments. Many have obtained their adjuster’s license and a portion have taken an estimatics class to learn estimating software. Most have no idea how to answer questions like those posed below that is just a touch of what we cover in our basic adjusting class:

1) How do I zone my assignments to meet carrier expectations on inspection quotas? What do received to inspected/inspected to closed ratios have to do with you and carrier expectations? How is your production monitored and how does it differ for independent adjusters vs staff adjusters( or is there a difference?)

2) Who are high profile clients that I must inspect immediately regardless of severity code of the damage?

3) What are severity codes? In addition to severity codes, what other factors do you need to know to comply with management expectations when prioritzing catastrophe assignments?

4) What does the carrier expect of me regarding Agency relationships when an agent is pushing for their claims to be handled first?

5) What actions/steps must you take when you are dealing with a coverage issue? What forms are required and what steps must I take to keep the carrier out of trouble on a claim?

6) What things should you avoid signing on an independent contract with an adjusting firm? What are the most common problem areas for adjusters getting paid on assignments that you can avoid so you don’t go unpaid this storm season? Where can you seek out information on reliable adjusting firms? Who do you report non paid invoices to? Should you carry your own E and O insurance if the adjusting firm offers to cover you…info by expert E and O firms.

7) What different type of carrier fee schedules are there and which are most advantageous to you as the adjuster? What is the difference in a daily rate vs a fee schedule or time and expense schedule? What are typical fee splits with the adjusting firm? When can you expect payment on your fee bills? How do you track outstanding fee bills?

8. What are file requirements for the claim file for a paper file and for an electronic file submission? What is the standard file order for document submission? On an electronic file submission, what do I name my documents for future reference? See examples of all standard required forms.

9) What are my contents claim software choices? Who pays for this? How do I calculate depreciation and “absorb” deductibles on special limits?

10) How do I handle an Insurance Department Complaint file? How do you  deal with a Public Adjuster? An Attorney letter of representation? What are time demands?

11) How do you determine what kind of advance is needed and housing options for a policyholder? How do you complete an additional living expense worksheet? What are abatements?

12) What information do you need to obtain regarding insurance carrier management file and customer service expectations BEFORE you start working files to avoid claim file closure rejections?

13) What are typical code of conduct requirements by a carrier for adjusters? What ethical standards are you expected to meet while on assignment? What are the most frequent type of problems that get adjusters sent home? Can you work for multiple carriers on one catastrophe? Can you use an assistant? Must they be licensed?

We cover much more than this during the course to include pre-reading assignments, pre-class homework assignments covering these issues and more on building losses, contents claim losses, and additional living expense claims.

Should you wish to join us for this upcoming class- the last prior to Hurricane Season, you will need to register at ClaimSmentor so you can access our LIVE ONLINE class room and have access to all class assignments. More information regarding the class is shared in our ClaimSmentor Forums. All website and registration information is found on the About page here on the blog.

Contact us (About page) if you have questions regarding class tuition (minimal for such a detailed course) or questions regarding registering.

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

March 29, 2008


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)

ClaimSmentor Upcoming Classes are scheduled!

February 14, 2008


We have our next three courses now scheduled for new adjusters. All classes take place LIVE ONLINE at our ClaimSmentor site. You must register for the site first to register for the classes. These are open to newly licensed insurance adjusters looking for file specific training.

40 Hour Fundamentals of Claims Class- Begins March 3, 2008 and will be held for four weeks on Monday and Thursday evenings from 6-9pm CST. There are 16 hours of pre-class self study and homework problems and 24 hours of online LIVE classroom sessions to go over the subject material. This course is for property adjusters planning to work residential homeowner and condo losses. We do not cover estimatics in the course with the exception of estimate reconciliation issues to include carrier general guidelines for scoping. The course covers claim career issues such as dealing with adjusting firm contracts, resume recommendations, ethics, contents claim handling, additional living expense claim handling, mock disaster zoning assignments and organization, correspondence handling, file requirements and forms common to property claim handling, attorney and public adjuster handling issues, carrier time service expectations, and much much more (all details listed in our class posting on ClaimSmentor). Course includes numerous self study guides for your use in the field after you’ve taken the course.

Contents Claim Handling- Class online 2/25/08. Course includes our self study guide for contents claims handling. Covers issues on contents software estimating, depreciation guides, salvage handling, and methods for documenting contents claims to meet carrier expectations. Common forms needed while handling contents claims and hot topics on current litigation issues involving contents claims handling. The class will be held from 6-9pm CST LIVE ONLINE.

Additional Living Expense Claim Handling- everything you need to know about handling ALE claims. Self Study guide included. You will work through mock ALE scenarios once trained on carrier general guidelines for all types of expenses submitted on claims such as housing, hotels, meals out, abated expenses and much more.  This class will be held in a two part session on 2/27 and 2/28/08.

Once you are registered for the site, you will receive a login id and  temporary password for accessing our forums. You will then find all class information in our Training Sessions- Roots and Wings program. All website/registration info is shown on our About page here on the blog.

We also offer one on one Career Coaching services to those new in the claims industry that prefer one on one mentoring for career success. If you are interested in those services, please email us for further information. The career coaching services can be combined with our online 40 Hour Fundamentals of Claims Class for a substantial discount on the cost of combining the career coaching services with our basic claim instruction courses. Contact info on the About page on this blog.

Next 40 Hour Fundamental of Claims online LIVE Class begins 1-7-08 at ClaimSmentor

December 28, 2007

We have now set the schedule for the next online 40 hour Fundamentals of Claims Class to begin January 7, 2008 and completed on January 31, 2008. The classes are LIVE ONLINE at  our mentor site at ClaimSmentor and run on Monday and Thursday evenings from 6-9pm CST in our online classroom.

This class is much different than what you will find at vendor seminars where estimatics and scoping are the agenda and high point of all classes. That is a very important aspect of adjusting but there is so much more to claim handling than merely the estimatics. Our course concentrates on other things not often found out in the field. We have had over 100 course completers in 2007. The course consists of 24 hours of online LIVE classroom time where you can ask all of your questions regarding pre-class reading and homework assignments and network with other new adjusters. We often have experienced adjusters and prior class members come in and share experiences they’ve had with the topics being covered. There is 16 hours of pre-class reading and pre-class homework assigned for a total of 40 hours of much needed information covered. In addition, the course cost includes many self study guides to use in the field covering Additional Living Expense handling, Contents Claim handling, Condo Loss handling, and much more!

The course itself includes 2 nights of Additional Living Expense training to include working sample problems with actual ALE worksheets, Complaint resolution handling to include Insurance Dept complaints, dealing with Public Adjusters and Attorneys, Time demand correspondence handling, an evening of estimate reconciliation tips so you have tips to enhance your negotiations with insureds and contractors rather than going item by item so you know the most common problems you’ll run into with estimate comparisons, ethics, carrier standards, file requirements both for paper files and electronic claim submission, expected file order, carrier expectations for adjuster ethics, and much news you need to be aware on claim issues facing our industry in the aftermath of Katrina. One of the highlights of class the adjusters seem to enjoy the most is our mock zoning practice sessions where they enter the world of real life cat assignments where they are assigned over 50 files at a time day 1 and have to set up their inspection agenda for the next 30 days in the proper priority order according to carrier management expectations.

We’ll feel you’ll walk away from the class with a much better understanding of the job detailed requirements as licensing and estimatic classes cannot begin to cover the other much needed information.

Mariposa Claims owner David Swank provides the following endorsement for the class and our online site for mentoring adjusters on his recent blog this week:

We’ve had many adjusters who worked Katrina claims take our class and express the wish they’d learned this material prior to the nightmare they experienced working their first catastrophe claims assignments.

Whether you take this class or any others, training is a very hot topic for adjusters. Reading depositions of many adjusting firm owners or staff claim adjusters and managers in the aftermath of Katrina, training is one of the most often covered discussions in depositions as bad faith allegations are made against many in our industry. I cannot stress the importance enough of obtaining necessary claim education outside of just taking estimatic classes. You need your license, your estimatic training, and much more to be a successful member of the claims adjusting community.

To register for the class, you need to register as a member of ClaimSmentor. Once we register you, you’ll receive an email with a login id and password to participate on our site where you can access the Training Sessions- Roots and Wings forums where you can view all available self study course material that is included with the class as well as all class details and cost associated. The course is a mere $80.00 to our members (2 dollars per credit hour….a very reasonable price for the mass amount of material covered but we keep all classes reasonably priced so all members can afford our live online classes). The beauty also of the program is you can work around your present job schedule and family obligations without the need to incur travel expenses.

We hope to see many of you there! We had over 20 new registrants to our site yesterday to include some very impressive adjusters with many insurance designations.

We’re also pleased to announce that Symbility Claims estimatic software had a management member of their firm join ClaimSmentor so we now have an important member or owner of all 5 major estimate software programs as members of ClaimSmentor. We reached 761 members yesterday with our new registrants! This includes now over 50 adjusting firm owners as well as many experienced adjusters. We appreciate all of the help from these experienced folks as we continue our online claim mentoring project to assist new adjusters. We will be entering into our THIRD YEAR of operation mid January and are looking forward to the new year and many new enhancements to our program are planned.

Note, we are very supportive of all adjusting firm and industry seminars and conferences and post ALL in our Seminars Forum and on our ClaimSmentor Calendar for our participants as well as preparing a yearly Claim Conference and Seminars comparison record so you can compare cost, CE credits offered, and other information such as number of adjusting firms you will have the potential to meet at the exhibit shows providing you more opportunities for exposure to new firms and new potential assignments. We also cover it from the aspect of claim managers and adjusting firm owners from the carrier aspect so you can compare the opportunities to network with important members of the insurance carriers for potential new work.

Our two favorite picks for conferences in January 2008 are:

NACA Convention- Myrtle Beach, SC January 14-17, 2008  – I had the opportunity to attend the 2007 convention in Dallas last year and it was as professional as any carrier yearly claim convention I ever attended and provides lots of opportunities for networking and CE credits as well as your NFIP yearly certification included.

Evans Claims- Huntsville, TX – reason- one of the few offering TX Windpool Certification which is harder to come by as well as official NFIP certification and California EQ as well as many other valuable classes. While I haven’t attended their conference before, many of our ClaimSmentor members attended the 2007 session and recommended it. It is most reasonably priced and discounts for early registration prior to 12/31 bring it down even further to $169.00.

Participants on ClaimSmentor often provide feedback on the conferences so other members can consider attending them the next time around. If you know of other conferences or your firm is sponsoring one you wish listed, just email me  for posting on our site.

Best Wishes to all for a safe and enjoyable New Year’s holiday. We will be traveling and back online on January 3, 2008.

Cat Tales by Guest Bloggers Kim and Nelson Stegall- Their first storm experience

October 20, 2007

Ya’ll will really enjoy this story by Kim Nelson she shares with our  members at ClaimSmentor and she has extended permission for me to share their story on this blog. Kim is entirely too shy about their backgrounds and the accomplishments they’ve made during the two years since obtaining their license. I often tease Kim that she is the Poster Child for everything I believed in when I founded ClaimSmentor. She has taken every class we’ve offered in the LIVE online classes, she has followed profile advice and created professional resumes, she has followed every lead we’ve posted in our ClaimSmentor Career Forum, been selected as part of the 2006 Mariposa claims mentoring project they did with our participants, and she and husband Nelson have attended I think just about every claims conference nationwide as well as fitting in many adjusting firm seminars and as many training classes as time and finances allowed. If that isn’t enough, Kim has also completed the AIC Associates in Claims program to add to her already impressive list of designations she earned during her agency career. Kim was also our first member of ClaimSmentor and remains very devoted to helping us by providing mentoring tips to other new adjusters in our forum.

Now…….sit back and enjoy their “Cat Tales” about their experience getting started in independent claim careers and their first storm. Thanks again to Kim and Nelson for allowing others to learn from their stories. Congratulations on setting such a great example for ClaimSmentor members to follow. You have found work when many others have yet to do so due to your positive attitude, persistence, and “can do” attitudes. They say “luck is where preparation meets opportunity” and you give that quote true meaning with your real life dedication to becoming the most professional adjusters you can be. It has truly been my pleasure working with you and mentoring you and brings me great pleasure to read of your successful entry into this field. Best to ya’ll…Deb

Here is also a link to the “Starting a Storm” article by Mariposa adjusters the Lenz’s we previously posted in this blog here which Kim mentions in her story below.


Cat Tale

Things are pretty quiet around here so I thought I would share the tale of our first cat deployment.

First, some background first for those of you who don’t know us.  We became licensed in 2005.  We signed up for a vendor 5-day training class at the end of Oct. ’05 and it just worked out that Hurricane Wilma hit 3 days before the class.  The vendor offered us 100 Hurricane Wilma claims the day the class ended but even though I had been an insurance agent for 20 years and Nelson had owned a construction company for 16 years, we just didn’t feel ready to jump into adjusting after a 5-day class.  Instead we took another 7-day property adjusting class the next month and then worked as unpaid assistants to some great mentors who were willing to share their experience, knowledge and their spare RV with us.   

During Winter and Spring 2006 we attended vendor conferences and took virtually every carrier cert and training class we could afford.

By late Spring of 2006 we were better trained, certified with several carriers, had worked Hurricane Wilma claims for 30 days and felt like we could do a creditable job of cat claims adjusting without going crazy at the same time.  I have always seemed to have a problem with timing and this was no exception.  Now that we were ready to go, there was nowhere to go.  This was the beginning of the “great void” as far as cats go and it was hard to find (actually, impossible) a vendor interested in our services.  I am, if anything, persistent so I started a campaign to find us work.  I’m sure some of you have found out that when things are slow, it’s tough to get work even if you are willing to do it for free!  In April of 2006 we were lucky to be accepted into Mariposa’s (great company!) mentoring program.  They matched us up with one of their top daily claims adjusters and for about 6 weeks we learned how different daily claims are from the cat claims we had worked with our friends during Wilma.   This was also an unpaid position but we were very happy to have it.

Once we had completed this daily claims apprenticeship, I started marketing our services as daily claims adjusters.  During the past 18 months we have been able to work about 70 daily claims.  The great thing about daily claims is the variety.  We have worked fire, mold, burglary, water, tornado, spilled bleach, sewer back up, liability, wind, hail, you name it! We worked with both personal lines and commercial lines policies.  Because 70 claims in 18 months isn’t exactly a lucrative income we have also done some underwriting inspections and My Safe Florida Home inspections.

So, it’s August of 2007 and although we now feel comfortable saying “claims adjuster” when someone asks what kind of work we do, we still haven’t worked our first cat and, cat work, not daily, is our goal.  We would like to be able to spend time in Iowa as well as Florida and daily claims tie you down even if you aren’t real busy.  We were aware there was a lot of storm damage in several areas of the Midwest in August but, of course, the vendors were calling their long time adjusters for this work, not us.  We found ourselves in the unusual situation of having no open daily claims and a lull in the My Safe Florida Home inspection work.  I sent e-mails to the managers of all the vendors we had dealt with for training, carrier certs, conferences and all those for whom we had completed the necessary items to be put on their rosters.  I recounted our experience and certifications and told them we were available.

Lo and behold, on 8/21/2007 we got a call.  The vendor rep asked if we were still available.  She said “I don’t know if we will send you to MN, IL or NC but start packing and we’ll call you back.”  Of course, we have had close calls before and we knew that packing would jinx this so we just proceeded as normal.  At 8:00 PM on Thursday, 8/23/2007, they called us back and asked if we could be in IL by Saturday, 8/25/2007.    She told us to just start driving towards IL and someone would call us and tell us exactly where we would be working and where the storm office would be.

 We started out for IL early Friday morning and mid-morning we got a call from our new storm manager.  He introduced himself, told us the town we would be working in and said that, since we were new, they would give us 20 claims to start with.  He explained we would be given additional claims as we completed the 20.  We said “great!”  He said the claims were being sent to us via XactCentral as we spoke and we could accept them and start calling them.  He said there would be a storm office where we could go for help if we needed it and he would call us back with the info on that.

We were really thrilled about the storm location.  This town is 50 miles from our house in Iowa!  We had 2 choices; with only 20 claims to handle, we could drive back and forth every day or we could fire up our old motor home and stay in the town where the claims are.  We decided to go the motor home route so we called and made a reservation at an RV park in that town for $24 per night. 

Our storm manager called us back Friday afternoon and he said “We only wanted to start you out with 20 claims but you guys are going to be the first ones there so we need to send you 15 more.”  We said “ok.”  He also said it appeared that this was going to be a “remote managed” storm and that there wouldn’t be a storm office.  We said “ok.”

Our storm manager called us back Friday evening and said “We just found out that you guys are the only adjusters being sent to this cat site that have commercial certification for this carrier so we have to send you 15 commercial claims.  We said “Gulp…ok” We weren’t scared of the commercial claims, per say, because this was the carrier I had been an agent for and I am familiar with their policies but we had NEVER used XactCentral and we knew from the certification class for this carrier that there was a little more set up for commercial claims in Xactimate and XactCentral.  XactCentral was our main worry and the words of the carrier’s rep at the certification class hung over us like a cloud: “A storm is not the place to learn a new program.”  The problem was, we had attended an advanced Xactimate class and they barely touch on XactCentral.  It seems like “trial by fire” is the only way you can learn it.

So, here we are, around Tennessee with another 10 hours of driving ahead of us.  We have gone from 20 claims to about 50, we have gone from a storm office to “remote managed” and we have 15 commercial claims.  OK…. this is what we have been training for.  We can do this.  We pulled into a Flying J truck stop and bought their “all day wireless” for $5 (our Verizon card was working too slowly for this) and downloaded our claims and I started calling them.

This was where I made the biggest mistake of this storm.  I can honestly say that I have read everything in the archives of CADO about storm deployment.  I have also read everything on ClaimSmentor about this subject and I have taken Deb’s excellent Fundamentals class and other classes about working cats.  You’d think I would know how to do this but, prior to this point, the most open claims we had at one time was 8!

I started talking to all those people who had big holes in their roofs, other serious damage, no power etc. and I just started scheduling them as close as I thought we could inspect.  We thought, “With 2 of us we should be able to do several inspections and closings in the same day…WRONG!”  The most important thing that we didn’t take into account was that we had our inexperience with XactCentral still to overcome.

Anyway, we stopped for a few hours to sleep Friday night and got up Saturday morning and sped towards our home in Iowa to pick up our RV and head towards IL.  All the while I was phoning insureds and digging our hole a little deeper with my scheduling.

We arrived in Iowa around 2:00 PM on Saturday.  We had set an appointment for 6:00 PM that evening with the insured with the most serious damage.  We decided we would go scope that loss and then just drive back to Iowa Saturday night.  Our first appointment on Sunday was 1:00 PM so we would have time to take the motor home to IL and get it set up in the morning.  We did that inspection at 6:00 and then headed back to Iowa.  A friend of ours had used our motor home and it was still at his house so we stopped there to pick it up.  Nelson started it up, put it in gear and it wouldn’t move!  It was parked in the grass so we thought, “It’s stuck.”  After a few minutes we realized the motor home wasn’t stuck…the brakes were!  OK, we have 3 appointments Sunday afternoon, 5 appointments on Monday and 5 appointments on Tuesday.  When can we work on the motor home?  We can’t!  Ok, can we just drive back and forth each day (2 hours round trip) with appointments starting at 8:00 AM and ending at 6:00 PM?  No, we really don’t think we want to do that…Ok; we’ll get a hotel over there.  Remember I told you about my timing?  Well, I started calling hotels in this town and quickly found out that besides all the roofers, contractors and adjusters who were heading to the area (and, because they weren’t planning on staying in their motor homes, had made a reservation!), it was the week of the annual Stearman Fly In where people fly their antique Stearman planes into this town and guess what?  They don’t sleep in them!  The only room we could find at this late date was the Holiday Inn Express for $71 per night!

Thanking God for credit cards, we moved into the Holiday Inn Express on Sunday afternoon just in time to make it to our first Sunday inspection.  We did our 3 Sunday inspections and when we got back to the hotel about 8:00PM we now had 4 inspected claims and no estimates done.  Remember we have 5 inspections scheduled Monday and 5 on Tuesday as well.  Another item to mention is that we had “triaged” our claims so the 4 estimates we now had to do were likely the most serious damage of all of our claims.  And also remember, once we get these estimates done, we don’t know how to submit them because we have never used XactCentral.  This carrier wants you to contact within 24 hours, inspect within 1 week and close the claim within 2 days of the inspection.  We were good on the contact, still ok on the inspections but already behind the 8 ball on the closings.

From there on out for the next two weeks it is still pretty much a blur. We didn’t get much sleep the first two weeks.  We are very lucky in that we have several great mentors.  None of them were working while we were at the storm and they were sending us advice and words of encouragement.  It was embarrassing to tell our good friends and mentors Dan & Leslie Lenz, authors of that great “How to Start a Storm” essay, (posted on ClaimSmentor!) that we had overscoped.  We did do pretty well on the “Call the insureds” part of their advice.

The vendor we were working with had an extremely good support system.  The storm manager handled our homeowner’s reviews and took questions about those policies.  Another guy did our commercial reviews and answered questions on them.  Another guy was the Xactimate/XactCentral expert and he saved our butts on getting us up to speed with that.  None of the horror stories we had heard came true with this storm.  All three of those support people were working our storm and at least 3 other storms simultaneously and they were extremely busy.  Most of the time they actually answered their phones and if they didn’t, they really did call right back.  They were very patient and nice.  Since the same reviewers were doing all our reviews, we never got mixed signals or had to change anything more than once.  Best of all, once we got the hang of the XactCentral thing, we hardly had to make any revisions at all.  They really seemed to like our work. 

We started out behind on the closings and didn’t ever get to where we were getting them closed within 2 days of inspection but they were very understanding about that as well.  They said that we had gotten most of the high severity claims because we were the first on site and they were surprised and pleased that we didn’t have any problems with the commercial claims because, apparently they often get a lot of revisions on commercial.  This was a wind storm and most of the damage was caused by wind and falling trees.  We only had 1 or 2 claims over $20,000, 4 or 5 that were between $10,000-$20,000 and the rest were under $10,000.

After the first 2 days of inspections we had to drastically change our game plan.  Every claim we had worked prior to this storm we had worked together and had a pretty good system.  We would both scope the loss.  If it was a large loss I would scope my part and Nelson would scope his.  If it was a small loss we would walk around together and Nelson would dictate the scope to me.  When we got back to our office, Nelson would do the Sketch diagrams (I can only do easy ones!) and he would label the photos while I wrote the estimates and the reports.  I spent more desk time on the claims than he did because I enjoy that part the most.  Before we sent them in, Nelson would check my work.  Sometimes my construction terminology needs a little “tweak!” After the first few days of the storm (because of the way I had scheduled!) we could see that I wasn’t going to have time to go along on the inspections and still get all the other things done I needed to do. By the end of the first week we had about 28 of our claims inspected and about 5-6 sent in!  I started staying in at the hotel and working on the estimates all day and we started getting caught up a little.  The only problem with that was it is harder to work off someone else’s scope when you didn’t see the damage, even with the photos. We had lots of things to go over when he got back each night.

We have discussed all this great at length and have some new plans for our next storm.  By leaving every other day or so without appointments we should be able to handle cat claims the way we do dailies and be more efficient.  I really missed participating in the inspections.  If that doesn’t work we will go to plan B, C, or D…whatever it takes.  The main lesson we learned is the well worn adage “Don’t scope more than you can write”

It took us less than 3 weeks to complete and submit all of our claims except for a couple that were waiting on contractor’s estimates for specialty items.  All in all it was a great experience.  We learned so much!  XactCentral isn’t difficult to use at all and now I’m an old hand at it.  Nelson was glad when the inspections were done because there were a lot of 2 story roofs and he had to lug that big ladder around.  I had it easy sitting in the hotel room pounding away!

 The vendor has paid us exactly as agreed and on time and has assured us they will be calling us again.

I hope all of you who have not yet been deployed have as good a first experience as we did.


Nelson P Stegall ACA, NFIP Certified Kim D Stegall AAI, ACA, AICIndependent Adjusters          




.    Kim and Nelson Stegall on first cat assignment! Great photo of a great team..thanks for sharing….Deb

Claim Career Coaching/Consultant Services for New Adjusters

September 29, 2007

It’s amazing the thousands of new adjusters with license in hand that have no idea what’s next and how to proceed with gaining either employment as a staff adjuster working directly for a carrier or what it takes to get assignments as an independent adjuster. Getting your adjuster’s license is just the first step of many important steps in the area of training required to move forward in your career in claims.

We constantly receive resumes from folks who write us “licensed, prior construction experience, ready to work” having no clue that the license does not prepare you for the specifics required to successfully  process claims.There are detailed file requirements which must be met to have files approved. For a property adjuster, this means estimatic software training, contents training, additional living expense training, training on carrier expectations on building estimates so you understand carrier general guidelines on things like matching, line of sight issues, and much more along with much detailed policy training so you properly make coverage determinations. Construction knowledge is important but only a very small part of the information you need to know to properly handle claims. It isn’t the folks just with construction experience but also those with agency backgrounds, accounting backgrounds, business adminstration,etc who also think that license in hand they are “ready to go”.


Obtaining your adjuster’s license provides you general information on state insurance regulations and ethics for adjusters, general coverage terms and insurance basic definitions but no where in the license training do you learn the specifics of claim file requirements, training on proper correspondence to be used, file documentation, what claim forms are used and how they are handled, and complying with fair claim handling practices so you are not the cause of litigation against the carrier and against you for “bad faith” claim handling by not complying with timely claim handling procedures along with proper coverage determinations.

Much too often, we read posts in many claim forums about new adjusters learning from forum posts. While the forums are definitely interesting, there are many folks who are giving advice that have not held HR positions with carriers or with independent firms. Many have not held management positions and been through interview training or planning sessions about current hiring guidelines. Many others may have staff only backgrounds or independent only experience and may or may not have management experience in either so they do not have a full perspective on carrier or adjusting firm HR hiring plans other than what they or their buddies have experienced which can be different for each person depending on when they entered the industry and what was going on with claims volume and supply and demand of adjusters at their time of entry into this business. I am not discounting forums for they provide sources of networking and learning about some important things from the current event side of things but they are not something I would strictly rely on for such important decisions as a life altering career move.Things in our industry are constantly changing and you need to spend individual time researching current opportunities so you aren’t lead astray by reading of past practices for hiring when the industry is presently in a mode of change on where employment opportunities exist.  Here are links to our prior blogs where we investigated such issues as “Where have all the claim files gone”, “Are adjusters Fungible Billings Units” and “Are Independent Adjusters a Dying Breed”. Here are links to these blogs about changes in the claim adjusting community  here, here is  a link to the 2nd one and the 3rd one here. Listen folks, you need a clear road map to success in this business. Hit or miss postings in claim forums do not prepare you for the requirements of the job.

 Carriers require staff adjusters participate and successfully pass basic claim schools that generally last 2-3 weeks that teach just basic property and liability policies so you can properly understand coverage for the basic property coverage for a homeowners, mobilehome, and boatowners policy then intermediate schools follow which also last several weeks for more training on liability issues and more advanced training on commerical claim policy training as well as other residential and commercial estimating schools. All of these claim schools are followed during your career by excellent ongoing seminars the carriers sponsor for all kinds of topics like taking statements, properly handling written communication and letter writing skills to properly communicate with insureds, and seminars by attorneys teaching you about the issues that lead to lawsuits so you avoid them. I could go on and on about the value gained at these schools you attend as a staff adjuster. Looking back, just the first 3 basics schools we were required to attend were 3 weeks each for a total of 9 weeks in class. The career path for a staff adjuster generally takes 5 years of combined training and field claim handling before you are considered a claim specialist and considered to have the knowledge and background to handle all types of basic property and liability claims.

Unfortunately, independents are relying on many 3 day classes and in some cases 1 or 2 day seminars at independent adjusting firm seminars to learn a myriad of things like estimate software and file requirements. This is totally insufficient. The problem lies in the fact there is no clear path for independent training. There are some excellent schools available but you have to know what schools those are and what is available, what will add value to your skill set and what is considered of value by adjusting firms and carriers when they review the thousands of resumes received. There are some great claim conferences you can attend and others that are a waste of your hard earned dollars. During our online classes at ClaimSmentor, I hear regularly from independent adjuster trainees who have spent thousands (some $10,ooo or more) that tell me things we teach in our online 40 hour Fundamentals of Claims class that they have learned very basic things in our class that they have not been taught at these hit or miss seminars. I don’t know how they could work claims without these basics. It does no good to obtain assignments as an independent if you are just going to get sent home due to failure to properly handle claims. We’ve even had numerous folks who worked Katrina claims that tell us they wished they’d had this training prior to being “thrown to the wolves” when adjusting firms were too busy to concentrate on training during one of the worst storms in history. In our forums, I’m amazed to learn that even today when things are mild on assignment volume that new adjusters are being given daily assignments for fire losses, theft losses, and liability claims without the first instructions for where to begin or what is required in the file.

We offer several basic services and will be vastly expanding on those services in 2008 as we move forward in our efforts to enhance the career path for new independent adjusters. It is important for all of us in the independent adjuster arena to improve the image and skill set of those entering our industry if carriers are to continue to use us.

So where does a career consultant for claim career coaching fit in? The ideal situation is to spend  time with a claim career coach even before you take your adjuster license classes to make sure you understand the extent of commitment required to continuing education both from an expense standpoint and from a time commitment. If you’ve already obtained a license and don’t have a clear understanding of “what next” then it is well worth the investment of your resources to have a career planning session to set you on the right course. We walk you through a road map to success in your career so you know the expectations, the opportunities for training and employment/ deployment with adjusting firms and carriers. There are different paths you would take depending on your educational background, the budget you have available for taking classes and claim schools, and the time you have available around your current job to be out of town for schools. There are online training options, self study programs, field classes, field conferences, and many options exist in each area of claims depending on your interest in homeowner, auto, marine, crop hail, or multi line adjusting. We stay in tune and up to date on what is available both from a training standpoint and an employment stand point with an unbiased opinion since we are not affiliated with an adjusting firm or carrier which many are concerned about as they are not sure if the plans given are an effort to obtain their training dollars versus training that will bring them more opportunities with all firms and carriers. There is a difference.

During our career coaching sessions with you individually, we review your background in depth to determine what the appropriate path and options are for you. It is not a one size fits all path but to determine where you can fit in within the claims industry and goal setting strategies to help you achieve the most reliable training out there within your  budget so you can achieve your dreams of successful employment. We’ll review your resume and make suggestions for improvement if you choose to include that option in your career coaching sessions. There are ways to stress your strengths to improve your resume as a new adjuster so you do get noticed and not just overlooked as one having no experience. If you missed our blog on resumes, here is the link. We will schedule follow up sessions with you as we monitor your progress and set priorities for your next training goals and your next course of action when applying for jobs with the right carriers and the right adjusting firms that most closely match your career interests. We can conduct mock interviews with those preparing for upcoming carrier or adjusting firm interviews so you know more about adjusting specific interviews and questions commonly asked with appropriate answers to these claim specific typical questions and much more which is customized  with our career coaching services to meet your individual needs so you accomplish your goals. It is time and money well spent so you avoid the pitfalls many are experiencing by random selections for schools, training, and job opportunities.

One of the most important times you should consider using a career coach is when you are making a life altering decision such as  those of you considering leaving a carrier career to go independent or vice versa. I was amazed to really grasp how different the two career paths are when I left the carrier corporate environment in 2001 after 28 years even though I’d managed independents on catastrophes for years. (That is an entirely different topic I’ll blog about one day as things are not what they seem when working with independents as we thought inside the carrier offices…there is alot carriers need to learn to understand these differences….you’d be amazed at what goes on that you don’t see!) If you didn’t read our earlier blog on the pros and cons of each career, here is a link to that blog.

If you are interested in scheduling an appointment for one on one career coaching, email us for our pricing information.

We also will be offering our next 40 hour Fundmentals of Claims class which will be held over at ClaimSmentor  in October 2007. The classes will run on Monday and Thursday evenings from 6-9pm CST online LIVE. The class does require pre-class homework assignments which are posted in our forums which include reading assignments so you understand the topic and question/answer sessions. The class is informative as well as fun. We’ll do REAL life like sessions on mock disaster drills and zoning your assignments to maximize your potential for meeting carrier quotas, form and letter training and exercises, additional living expense training, a contents claim handling session, address communication issues with insureds, public adjusters, and attorneys, estimate reconciliation procedures so you understand carrier guidelines and ways to more quickly assess the estimate differences between your estimate and a contractors, activity log training, and much more regarding carrier expectations on your received to contacted and inspected ratios and inspected to closed ratios so you understand time service expectations and tips on how to improve your statistics and file document submission so you too can eventually become a core adjuster when you learn to perform above the average adjuster. New adjusters are overwhelmed on catastrophe assignments with the extensive requirements when they don’t know these basics. Going live without understanding important basic requirements is surely a recipe for failure but it happens every day when new independents are sent out into the field without proper training during major catastrophes. This course is very time intensive and you’ll need to be able to dedicate a minimum of 40 hours to the course requirements to handle all required reading and homework assignments. Upon successful completion of the course, you will receive a certificate of completion of 40 hours in basic training. This class will compliment some of the training you’ve obtained in the field by providing a much more detailed explanation of file requirements. The class includes field reference guides for you to take out in the field for personal reference when actually working claims as a reminder to information learned in the class.

Should you be interested in this class or other classes on ClaimSmentor to include other courses such as Contents Claim Handling, detailed Additional Living Expense training, Fl Condo Assn Claim handling,  and other classes you will need to register for our forums to take these classes. A link to our registration information is on the About page here on the blog.

Enjoy your weekend! We’ll post more on the tropics later should it appear the many new storms brewing may bring new assignments.