John O’Brien | AdjusterPro | March 29, 2019
Recently, my friends at AdjusterPro asked if I’d like to be a guest author for their blog page. Since I’ve been a successful claims adjuster now for a number of years, they felt my perspective on the biggest mistakes new adjusters make might be helpful for their readers.
My immediate response was, “That’s simple. They don’t know what they’re doing.” However, I was quickly told that I “wasn’t getting off that easy” and furthermore, my answer was “not helpful.”
Back to the drawing board.
But the fact is the biggest challenge facing new adjusters IS that simple: they don’t know what to do. Now please don’t misunderstand. I don’t blame new adjusters. After all, we’ve all been there. And as the old saying goes: you don’t know what you don’t know. Whether you’re an insurance claims adjuster just starting your career, a salesperson dealing with your first tough client, or a family with a newborn….you can’t very well fix unknown problems.
When it comes to insurance claims adjusting however, I do think there are areas where new adjusters could better prepare themselves for the job and set themselves up for real long-term success in this industry. I’ve broken them down into 3 main areas where I’ve seen new adjusters struggle the most.
It’s worth noting that independent insurance adjusting is a fantastic job with high pay and low barrier to entry. Pass your state license exam and boom – you are a licensed adjuster. But achieving the high pay part gets a little more complex. Independent adjusters get paid on each claim that they inspect, estimate, and close. So while the success formula is simple: more claims closed = more money, there are plenty of challenges standing in the way of the ‘more claims closed’ part of the equation.
MISTAKE #1: Insufficient (or no) preparation for estimate writing.
The easiest first step you can take but perhaps the most important is gaining a solid grasp of how to use Xactimate. This estimating software is used by the majority of all adjusters for most property-related claims in the US. I can not stress enough how important it is to be functional in Xactimate. This is partially related to a big misconception in the insurance claims industry. Many people think most of a claims adjuster’s work is in the inspections…but 75% of the work you will do as an adjuster is actually estimate writing.
So back to the equation more claims closed = more money. Being able to write 5 claims in an evening will make you 5 times more successful than an adjuster who can only write one claim per evening. Not only will it earn you more money, it will increase your value to your employer – who will likely give you more claims and more opportunities whereby the cycle begins again.
Oh and by the way, please don’t be that guy/gal that thinks they can learn on the fly during their first big storm deployment. (AdjusterPro Co-Founder Adam Gardiner wrote a great article on his experience as an Xactimate newbie during Hurricane Charley. It’s worth a read.) First, nobody has time to help you because they are too busy writing their own claims. Taking 2 hours to help you could literally cost them thousands of dollars. Plus, two hours of frustrated help from a fellow adjuster won’t be nearly enough time to get you up to speed. The only other option is to go to your adjusting firm’s help center and wait patiently for one of the overworked help staff to walk you through. But again, time is money and time spent waiting is time you aren’t closing claims.
So first things first – get Xactimate training. AdjusterPro has a great Xactimate Tactical Training course to get you started. Then practice, practice, practice. Once you know the basics, there are a host of “tricks of the trade” that you can learn to cut your writing time down.
MISTAKE #2: Not having an ordered, systematic process for approaching your workload.
This one isn’t as cut and dry but it is every bit as important for new adjusters – and can truly make or break your career in claims. So what does this really mean? It means you need a system: a step-by-step, consistent approach you use for every claim, no matter the size or circumstance.
Whether you have 1 claim or 50, every single claim requires incredible attention to detail. Closing the claim means completing all of the necessary steps in the correct order. Miss one and it leads to additional mistakes or missed tasks, potentially resulting in a kicked back claim. If nothing else missed steps and tasks will cost you time. And, as we’ve discussed, time = money.
This was a huge challenge for me when I first deployed. I was proficient in Xactimate writing so I thought I’d do ok. Not so. I constantly found myself in a mental fog of chaos as I bounced from one task to another with no real organization. I became stressed which led to more mistakes I needed to fix which, of course, led to more stress.
Fortunately, I was able to identify my problem and make some changes. With a bit of trial and error, I was able to create a systematic approach to every claim. It’s allowed me to handle huge claims loads from multiple firms and multiple carriers at the same time. My Adjuster Success Method training course was really developed for this purpose. I wanted to share my experiences: the good, the bad, and the ugly, and help new adjusters get a leg up on this all-important part of a successful career in claims.
The bottom line? If you want to be successful you need to get organized and stay organized.
MISTAKE #3: Taking yourself out of the game.
Facing the daunting task of figuring out how to do their job while navigating a major catastrophe deployment is what sends many a new adjuster back to the safety and predictability of a normal 9-5 job. Most of the time, they would have made fine adjusters if they’d just had a little more guidance before facing that first CAT deployment. But I have seen so many become stressed, get overwhelmed, and pack it in and go home.
There isn’t a one size fits all solution here. But if you want to be successful in this field, you need to be prepared and you need the determination to stick it out, no matter how tough it gets. And it will get tough. But with the right training, the right mind frame, and a great system? You’ll be killing it in no time.