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Last Post 04/03/2019 2:20 AM by  ellenpimentel
Be a Better Adjuster; Take Better Photos
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Jud G.
Advanced Member
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Posts:509


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08/01/2013 6:15 PM

    I am primarily a field adjuster, but have worked a few stints inside to improve my field skills and see what other adjusters do to get files closed.  Taking photos is one of those simple tasks that is very easy to do poorly and many examiners (sadly) have gotten to the point where they only review photos and don't even read reports anymore (there are numerous reasons for this, but a separate forum/topic should address those issues).

    The biggest issues are not with the failure to use the buttons on a feature rich camera, but with the failure to employ adequate organization, picture arrangement, and use of proper captions.  Technology changes drastically from year to year, so I will try to include tips that have pretty much stayed the same since I started. 

    A good photo outline starts with exterior photos, roof, elevations, and interior.  If the origin is inside, I try to keep the origin close to the top of the photo report.  Then I will try to incorporate it within a general flow (clockwise/counter-) throughout the interior floor plan.

    The order of the estimate's labels (i.e. exterior, rooms, demo, etc.) should follow the same order as the photos.

    The risk photos should be of two sides or a corner- not just one elevation.  If you can manage to squeeze a view of the mailbox, sign, or building number inside the bottom corner of the photo with two (2) elevations, you've created an excellent first image for your photo report.

    Roof photos should begin with slope overviews and then close-ups.  If you download a free aerial overview from the web, include it as your first roof image.  If you have a campus of numerous buildings, include an aerial site overview in your photo report.  (BTW; snagging several angles of the same damaged shingles, no roof overviews, or roof photos from the ground is an egregious display of incompetence and appears deceitful; it is very obvious and draws quite a crowd in the cubicle farm; don't do it.)

    Each interior photo should begin with a room overview and flow from top down including your most detailed images at the end (large to small).  For example; an image of a concentric water stain on the ceiling and labeling it as a bedroom doesn't help reviewers or re-inspectors much.  

    The order for each room will also flow from Dwelling/Building items to contents items.

    I will provide two basic technology tips that every adjuster should be familiar with: macro and image detail.  Most camera green buttons will switch to macro mode automatically and the little flower will appear.  With my older camera, I had to manually switch to macro mode.  This will allow you to photograph extreme close-ups such as the model and serial numbers from various contents items.

    My default setting is on the lowest image quality and takes up the least memory.  Yet, when I want to capture/scan documents, I will switch to macro and switch to the next higher (the highest is not necessary for a good image) quality setting.  You can then convert this .jpeg file to .pdf and scan with the rest of your report's enclosures.

    If you know of other tips, please share.  

    Good luck out there.

    billburnett5737@msn.com
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    08/24/2013 1:29 AM
    Excellent commentary ...
    AcceleratedAdjuster
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    08/27/2013 12:18 PM
    Posted By Jud G. on 8/1/2013 6:15 PM

    My default setting is on the lowest image quality and takes up the least memory.  Yet, when I want to capture/scan documents, I will switch to macro and switch to the next higher (the highest is not necessary for a good image) quality setting.  You can then convert this .jpeg file to .pdf and scan with the rest of your report's enclosures.

     


    I agree with a lot of what you said, but the paragraph quoted, I do not agree with at all. This is likely because my firm deals with a lot of CGL claims, and on those, we require our adjusters to always use the highest possible photo quality settings. They are then instructed to retain the high quality images and re-size the photos to a much lower resolution for their reports (there are a number of free tools that allow you to perform this function as a batch, and it takes an extra few seconds per report).  The reason for this is that when some of these more interesting and complex files inevitably end up in litigation proceedings, we can generate large "blow up" photos for the proceedings (A very clear and detailed 4'x3' photo has a lot more impact on an audience than a grainy 2'x1' photo).  Standard property losses do not necessarily require this, but our philosophy is that if you do it the same way every time, you generally do not miss steps and/or forget something that could be vital later on.

    The only downside is that our busier adjusters have terabytes of property photos that they occasionally have to clean up.

    www.acceleratedadjusting.com www.acceleratedadjustingisrael.com
    abennett0695
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    09/02/2013 11:08 PM
    I would like some clarification on captions, please. Are you talking about in Xactimate, or are you talking about putting pics in Word or a similar program, captioning them, and then printing them out to a pdf? I'm just wondering if that is a broad term. I do both scenarios, depending on the claim.

    I'm new-ish, so thank you for your patience if this seemed like a no-brainer. Also, I'm a gal and I read a lot as a kid, so I talk kind of weird. This is my first post, too, so I think we should raise a toast or something because I'm damn happy to be a part of this!

    That was a fantastic and well thought out post, by the way, Jud...I printed it to a pdf and added it to my "tool kit".
    ChuckDeaton
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    Posts:1110


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    09/05/2013 8:17 PM
    Simple things count!

    Think about what you are doing when you buy cameras. A pop up flash is awkward. Buy two identical cameras, who wants to have an opportunity to make 100's of thousands of dollars and then drop their only camera. No images no paycheck. Keep the camera clean. dirt, water, fingerprints and general crud ruin the image. Always have a fully charged battery available. I wear my Canon on a necklace and holster it in my shirt pocket. I don't drop it, lose it and it stays clean.

    Most digital cameras can be set. That is the images size can be made larger and smaller. Generally speaking use the small setting, more images per card and your files are smaller.

    Make lots of images, inside, outside, up, down, close, far away. Make lots of images. Making 100's of thousands of dollars means that you inspect one time, every time you go back to a claim you are losing a new claim. Repeated inspections aggravates the insured. Make lots of images.

    Most examiners will not pay for items that are not illustrated. The more images the field adjuster makes the more money the field adjuster makes.

    Making images isn't rocket science, just use common sense.
    "Prattling on and on about being an ass with experience doesn't make someone experienced. It just makes you an ass." Rod Buvens, Pilot grunt
    Leland
    Advanced Member
    Advanced Member
    Posts:742


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    09/06/2013 9:43 PM
    it might be a good idea to lie on your back to photograph a ceiling

    foregrounds and backgrounds add reference- if you stand just outside a room to photograph it, and have a little bit of the outside room in the edge of the photo, it is easier later to figure out how those two rooms fit together.

    For odd floor shapes it can be helpful to hold the camera above your head and point it down. A similar idea is to photograph the first floor from a second floor balcony.

    for some claims it makes sense to ask the insured if they have architectural drawings. They often do. If so, photograph them

    sometimes it makes sense to label things with sticky notes or paper and scotch tape before photographing them

    If the claim is really large you can do one floor or even one room, then download the photos to a folder on your laptop. Then do the next room. It takes more time, but the photos are all grouped (and labeled?) by room. If you need many photos from each room it will save time organizing later. This could work well if you have an apartment building with 6 damaged apartments- download after each apartment.

    If you have 200+ photos you need to make a duplicate XM8 file or ESX or use some other photo sheet program. XM8 might crash and wipe out the whole estimate with that many photos

    Taking photos of the exterior can sometimes be very helpful for drawing the interior, when the house is not a simple rectangle.

    If you have a damaged apartment ask if the next door unit is the same layout and materials, and photograph it. Sometimes all the units are identical, or mirror images, and you can really get a better understanding of a fire damaged unit by looking at the one that is not damaged. Obviously don't assume it is identical in every way.

    Take photos to connect things- If there is a water stain on the wall and a broken pipe outside the window, see if you can get both in the photo at the same time.

    Learn to use a fill-in flash even outdoors. If you are in the bright sun trying to photograph something in a dark shadowy space, you can use a flash.

    I have an extra battery for my smart phone.

    Smart phones usually take better closeups than "real" cameras. Use a penny or a paperclip or a finger for size reference when taking extreme closeups.

    It's ok to photograph your tape measure laying next to something to make a record of the measurement. Rulers work well placed vertically next to a baseboard, to show how tall they are.

    If the insured claims there is a stain you can't see, ask him to put his finger on it. You can photograph his finger pointing to "stain claimed by insured". Try not to photograph anything more than the insured's arm. Some carriers don't like the insured to be in the photo. The finger is probably OK though.

    The video setting on many cameras can be used for recording a statement, if you don't have a recorder. Just point the camera at a wall or ceiling.

    I usually take photos of business cards from contractors etc. That way I won't lose the info.

    When I walk up to a house that is being worked on, I take a photo of the contractor's van with the name and phone number. Then I photograph the trash that is coming out of the house. The carpet and baseboards that are in the dumpster may never be seen again.

    If you don't have a flashlight, just use your flash and take a bunch of pictures. You can always look at the pictures to see what was there in the dark, and maybe get an idea of where to point your camera for some more pictures.

    To photograph a slightly buckled floor, put something straight at a right angle to the wood. Put a flashlight or some other light behind that item. The light will poke through underneath and make even slight cupping very obvious. Sometimes it helps to turn the light off in the room.

    Another technique is to photograph the reflection of the light against the floor. Many things that are obvious to the naked eye won't show up very easily in a photo.

    CatAdjusterX
    Veteran Member
    Veteran Member
    Posts:964


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    09/07/2013 4:15 AM

    Posted By Leland on 09/06/2013 9:43 PM
    it might be a good idea to lie on your back to photograph a ceiling

    foregrounds and backgrounds add reference- if you stand just outside a room to photograph it, and have a little bit of the outside room in the edge of the photo, it is easier later to figure out how those two rooms fit together.

    For odd floor shapes it can be helpful to hold the camera above your head and point it down. A similar idea is to photograph the first floor from a second floor balcony.

    for some claims it makes sense to ask the insured if they have architectural drawings. They often do. If so, photograph them

    sometimes it makes sense to label things with sticky notes or paper and scotch tape before photographing them

    If the claim is really large you can do one floor or even one room, then download the photos to a folder on your laptop. Then do the next room. It takes more time, but the photos are all grouped (and labeled?) by room. If you need many photos from each room it will save time organizing later. This could work well if you have an apartment building with 6 damaged apartments- download after each apartment.

    If you have 200+ photos you need to make a duplicate XM8 file or ESX or use some other photo sheet program. XM8 might crash and wipe out the whole estimate with that many photos

    Taking photos of the exterior can sometimes be very helpful for drawing the interior, when the house is not a simple rectangle.

    If you have a damaged apartment ask if the next door unit is the same layout and materials, and photograph it. Sometimes all the units are identical, or mirror images, and you can really get a better understanding of a fire damaged unit by looking at the one that is not damaged. Obviously don't assume it is identical in every way.

    Take photos to connect things- If there is a water stain on the wall and a broken pipe outside the window, see if you can get both in the photo at the same time.

    Learn to use a fill-in flash even outdoors. If you are in the bright sun trying to photograph something in a dark shadowy space, you can use a flash.

    I have an extra battery for my smart phone.

    Smart phones usually take better closeups than "real" cameras. Use a penny or a paperclip or a finger for size reference when taking extreme closeups.

    It's ok to photograph your tape measure laying next to something to make a record of the measurement. Rulers work well placed vertically next to a baseboard, to show how tall they are.

    If the insured claims there is a stain you can't see, ask him to put his finger on it. You can photograph his finger pointing to "stain claimed by insured". Try not to photograph anything more than the insured's arm. Some carriers don't like the insured to be in the photo. The finger is probably OK though.

    The video setting on many cameras can be used for recording a statement, if you don't have a recorder. Just point the camera at a wall or ceiling.

    I usually take photos of business cards from contractors etc. That way I won't lose the info.

    When I walk up to a house that is being worked on, I take a photo of the contractor's van with the name and phone number. Then I photograph the trash that is coming out of the house. The carpet and baseboards that are in the dumpster may never be seen again.

    If you don't have a flashlight, just use your flash and take a bunch of pictures. You can always look at the pictures to see what was there in the dark, and maybe get an idea of where to point your camera for some more pictures.

    To photograph a slightly buckled floor, put something straight at a right angle to the wood. Put a flashlight or some other light behind that item. The light will poke through underneath and make even slight cupping very obvious. Sometimes it helps to turn the light off in the room.

    Another technique is to photograph the reflection of the light against the floor. Many things that are obvious to the naked eye won't show up very easily in a photo.

    ................................................................................................

    Nicely done Leland.

    Well thought out post. As far as technical aspects I have nothing to add, just something really simple for organization. When documenting interior damage, let's say I start with the living room. I simply make my first pic of my TIC sheet labeled LIVING ROOM, then a panoramic shot from the entry point and then zero in on damage (using a ruler/tape for Crown molding/base boards)X amount of pics. When done with living room, my next pic will be, again of my TIC sheets labeled BEDROOM 1 and so on and so forth. Just an easy simple way to stay organized and to ensure there is no confusion as to what the file examiner is looking at. As Chuck stated, if it isn't documented, it isn't damaged (as far as the examiner is concerned) 



    "A good leader leads..... ..... but a great leader is followed !!" CatAdjusterX@gmail.com
    ChuckDeaton
    Life Member
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    Posts:1110


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    09/07/2013 4:08 PM
    My new camera also has GPS. Canon and Nikon have a model with this feature.

    I have a peice of white board glued to the back of my clip board and write the room ID on it with a dry erase marker. Each group of images starts with an image of the whiteboard.

    My cell phone has a 7000 Mah battery, when possible I email a short report with images.

    Images made with my cellphone automatically up load to Dropbox.

    Drive 2000 miles to scope a large, million dollar +, loss and you will appreciate these tips.

    PhotoAdjuster is an excellent piece of software.





    "Prattling on and on about being an ass with experience doesn't make someone experienced. It just makes you an ass." Rod Buvens, Pilot grunt
    AcceleratedAdjuster
    Member
    Member
    Posts:165


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    09/08/2013 6:58 AM
    Posted By abennett0695 on 09/02/2013 11:08 PM
    I would like some clarification on captions, please. Are you talking about in Xactimate, or are you talking about putting pics in Word or a similar program, captioning them, and then printing them out to a pdf? I'm just wondering if that is a broad term. I do both scenarios, depending on the claim.



    Both. There should always be a photo title (ie: "front slope of roof", "living room", "lobby" or "risk"). Beneath the photo title, whether in Xact or whatever else you happen to be using to mount photos, there should be a caption that defines much more specifically what the viewer should be focusing on in the photo. Describe the problem. Is it stained and discolored, bent and deformed or scorched? 

    www.acceleratedadjusting.com www.acceleratedadjustingisrael.com
    AcceleratedAdjuster
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    Member
    Posts:165


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    09/08/2013 11:40 AM
    Posted By Jud G. on 08/01/2013 6:15 PM

     

    Roof photos should begin with slope overviews and then close-ups.  If you download a free aerial overview from the web, include it as your first roof image.  If you have a campus of numerous buildings, include an aerial site overview in your photo report.  (BTW; snagging several angles of the same damaged shingles, no roof overviews, or roof photos from the ground is an egregious display of incompetence and appears deceitful; it is very obvious and draws quite a crowd in the cubicle farm; don't do it.)

     


    Just something to add to this section:

    Roof photos should always start with the type and construction of the roof. If working residential roofs, as most cat adjusters do, don't get off the ladder and onto the roof until you have photographed your shingle gauge and pitch gauge. I see this blatant error on a regular basis, with people who should really know better. It does not matter if there is damage to the roof or not; get the photos of the gauges every time. I have taken to sending the FA's back out to get the photos that they should have gotten in the first place.

    Maybe this amendment to Jud's words should be used to start another thread: "Be a competent adjuster; Use your tools!".

    www.acceleratedadjusting.com www.acceleratedadjustingisrael.com
    dpadjuster
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    09/12/2013 3:55 PM
    Excellent tips. For buckled floors, I have a 4 ft level that usually shows the buckle really well. Also, I have found that, no matter how good the picture is, some file examiners will miss small details unless you use the notations provided in XM8 and other programs. I use a lot of arrows, if the company permits it.
    Jud G.
    Advanced Member
    Advanced Member
    Posts:509


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    09/13/2013 11:38 AM
    Posted By abennett0695 on 09/02/2013 11:08 PM
    I would like some clarification on captions, please. Are you talking about in Xactimate, or are you talking about putting pics in Word or a similar program, captioning them, and then printing them out to a pdf? I'm just wondering if that is a broad term. I do both scenarios, depending on the claim.

    Wow, very nice posts everyone.  Thanks for throwing in the extra tips.  

    In addition to 'AcceleratedAdjuster's' post responding to abennett's above, I always use Xactimate for my photos.  There are other photo programs available and work wonderfully.  In my mind I'm paying for it, so I prefer and use it.

    If I have to print out photos for my casualty files, I only have to type the insured's name, claim number, and policy number in Xact to set up a file.  Xactimate provides two (2) photo sheet versions; one numbers the photos for you the other type does not.  Make sure your photos are numbered.

    In Xactimate, you have a place to label or title your photos and a second place to describe the photos.  Use complete sentences or complete thoughts.  I prefer using compass directions since there's never an issue; left and right can be debatable (strangely though, I had a reviewer tell me to use left and right as he thought it was confusing...).

    For key images such as the origin, obscure damage, or unusual features, consider referencing those photo numbers in your report discussion.

    If you are really aspiring to make a top notch report, locate an image that is the Main Idea of the loss.  This image could serve as the basis of coverage or denial, an aerial image of the multi-building campus, or even a business card for someone that has been difficult to reach on a loss that ends up getting withdrawn.  Import the image into your captioned report, and squeeze it to the right side, put a border on it, set it to 'text wrap tight', and perhaps embed a caption within the image.  Make sure the image is placed within the area or page that coincides with your discussion.  (If you are discussing the risk's construction, embed the image of the risk next to that paragraph).

    Granted, vendors/carriers with low flat rate schedules won't see any of this on my reports because it takes extra time and is overkill.  For decent paying clients, they will see this as justification for the rate they paid for your service.

    One vendor I work for requested a raw version of my file so they could use this report enhancement on all their captioned reports.  However, they only embed a risk photo in their reports.  I prefer to use the 'main-idea' approach in selecting an image.  The reason why is that the construction may be unremarkable (i.e. cmu on slab with bur system), but have an unusual or questionable cause of loss that serves as a potential basis for denial or a need for additional investigation by experts.  I don't want the report reader getting distracted by a photo of a boring building when they could be concentrating on a flood line, ruptured pipe, arced wires, raccoon in an attic, etc.

    billburnett5737@msn.com
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    11/11/2013 2:15 PM
    Will print all of these comments toward developing an excellent photo check list; and excellent field check list from field pros and reviewer pros; many reviewers are saying no photo documentation/no pay. Thanks to all of the above. Never too old to learn new tricks; or remember old tricks.
    ChuckDeaton
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    11/11/2013 3:45 PM
    There should be a minimum of 6 images made in each room, damaged or not, floor, ceiling, all 4 corners utilizing a wide angle lens, plus any images that would serve to demonstrate specifics.

    At least 4 images, from the ground, of elevations of the risk, plus images that would serve to demonstrate specifics.

    Make images of the A/C units. Images which show the manufacturer, along with the serial number and the size.

    At least 2 images of each slope of the roof, plus pitch images, Haag shingle gauges, drip edge, number of layers of roofing, test square images, images to demonstrate specifics. Images of all jacks, flashings, vents and chimneys.

    On flood claims images are need to demonstrate water depth inside and outside. Aldo, remember to make several images of the crawl space, walkways and exterior stairs and decks/porches.

    My thought is that if the image total is not in excess of 100, most probably more images are needed.

    This applies to simple residential wind, water and flood claims. Commercial claims require similar, but more extended records.

    "Prattling on and on about being an ass with experience doesn't make someone experienced. It just makes you an ass." Rod Buvens, Pilot grunt
    dpadjuster
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    11/15/2013 4:48 PM
    Chuck's reply made me think of one tip that I like in XM8. You can load in all of your photos and then click the "exclude from report" button for those you do not want to include. I routinely take a lot more pictures than I include in the report, but have then had a few questions that could be solved by the additional pictures. It becomes easy to just remove the check mark and send those photos as well. Most carriers like as many photos as you can give, but a few do not. I probably tend to overkill on the photos, but I would rather do that than waste my gas going back out to get some picture I forgot. I also try to make a habit of sitting at the insured's house and mentally or physically reviewing all of my photos to make sure I did not miss anything. I usually tell them up front that I am going to review and make sure, and then if nothing else is needed, I will leave. I have never had an insured mind me sitting in their driveway a few extra minutes to verify that I have what I will need.
    ellenpimentel
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    04/03/2019 2:20 AM
    Great tips.
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