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Last Post 06/07/2007 12:03 AM by  spierce
Couple of green questions
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JohnT
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05/18/2007 11:58 PM

     I'm very new to this forum and the adjusters industry. A friend told me the other day that I need to check in to a career in insurance adjustments. I had never thought about it but he insisted I check the internet to find out any information I can find.  He  told me that he knew another person that enjoyed working in this field and maybe I would too.  So far after reading through the forums I think it really sounds good to me. Traveling and helping people seems to stick out the most. I know that the real money will come in time but it would be worth my time and all my effort if I finally found a career that I enjoyed doing.                                                                                                                                              Of course I have alot of questions. The first one is, Do I need a degree of any kind? I understand that there are classes I need to attend but I haven't heard anyone else say anything about a degree.           I live in Mobile, Alabama so as you know that puts me right in the middle of some serious action. I would travel anywhere though. Do I need a license for each state I go to? Is it a good idea to be in contact with alot of insurance companies (10)? Or should I pick just 1? Would it be a good idea to pick back up on Spanish classes? I'm able to converse in American sign language. Are there any other classes that I should enroll in that may help my chances of getting work?  I've noticed that most job listings that I've seen  say "experienced adjusters". Does that mean it would be hard for me to find work to start off with?

    I'm not worried about how much money I would make right now. I mean I would like to make a living (atleast 45/year) but hopefully that would increase as my experience does. Having said that.  Are there times that the adjuster doesn't get paid? For whatever reason.  I've read where that has happened or atleast someone has heard about it but is that a real problem??      I'm willing to do whatever it takes to get my foot in the door short of not getting paid. 

    Do most people focus on one specific field such as hurricanes or floods? Or does everyone work where ever work is available?  

    And last but not least.... The million dollar question. Is there enough work to go around? I can't help but wonder.    That was really the first question that came to my mind. From what I've gathered so far there are alot of adjusters out there. I mean alot. I am a go getter and I will hustle, but do any of you ever feel like you're stepping on someone elses toes?

    Thanks in advance to anyone that helps me out. Any, and I mean any information that you pass on is very much appreciated.

     

    cajunadj
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    05/19/2007 10:12 PM

    I do not wish to discourage you, but I am not sure that now is a good time to get into this business. The work is very slow at this time and I know some adjusters who have not worked in a year. I have been fortunate and have been busy and I work for one of the big 4 that have contracts with the largest home insurer. I have been busy for the last three years, but have gone for stretches where I have not worked for three months and then worked for two or three or six. Most of the big companies  now want adjusters with a minimun of 5 years experience. As for as licenses, get one in the state you live and then go from there. If there is a declared cat, then the company you will work for will get a temp. license. Also understand that you have to pay your own expenses and they can add up to an awful lot if you are new and not able to close many files.

    Medulus
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    05/21/2007 6:55 PM

    John,

    Since you are in Mobile, you are not only in the middle of some potential serious action. You are in the hometown of Pilot Adjusters. They are either on Hillcrest or Schillinger Road (I think Hillcrest). They are known for giving catadjusters a good start. You can likely talk to folks there who can steer you right.

    Check the website for the Alabama Department of Insurance for information on obtaining your license. I believe the Alabama requirements are less onerous than some of your neighboring states.

    But given the experience of many who decided to get started in the last eighteen months, you might want to keep the day job until a major catastrophe comes along.

    Steve Ebner CPCU AIC AMIM

    "With great power comes great responsibility." (Stanley Martin Lieber, Amazing Fantasy # 15 August 1962)
    cajunadj
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    05/21/2007 7:08 PM

    Pilot is one of the companies that now require a minimun of 5 years adjusting experience to apply to get on the roster. You can go to their website www.pilotcat.com/ and get all of their infomation.

    mwalton
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    05/24/2007 11:32 PM

    I am willing to testify about this being a difficult career to start.    I began to research the possibilities in Feb of 2006, after seeing many make good $$ after the busy storm season of 2005.  It seamed logical to obtain a license to adjust claims in my home state (Texas). This works well because many states will accept the testing of the Texas DOI and issue a license to non-resident adjusters to work in their state when no emergency claims (CAT claims) are needed.  Now I have a license and can work in several states with non-resident status all the claims companys want 2 - 5yrs experience of verifible claims. The next option is to attend a school and train for a specific company and learn to adjust their way for their carriers.  Not exactly independent anymore.  Now you need to be certified for some carriers and this will be another new adventure in itself. I am willing to see this to the end where ever that may take me but if you are really serious about adjusting get ready for lots of twist and turns and practice patience.   I have not even touched on the CE needed to maintain the license or estimating software or equipment to measure structures or GPS to find them.

      Research is good and questions are better.    Much luck,  Marvin 

     

     

    Catsvstrained
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    Posts:62


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    05/31/2007 7:01 AM
       Hello and welcome to the party, I believe that you have come to the right place for gaining perspective on this career field. The CADO Forum is a parallel world of sorts to the actual practice of claims adjusting in the sense that challenge lies in finding fact amongst the sea of opinion. “It is what it is”, that is what I tell Policyholders, Contractors, Claims Managers, Reinspectors, etc. , because you cannot argue with good scope. and good scope is fact. Claim settlement is only as accurate as it is translated from actual damage through the insuring agreement and into dollar amounts that represent real construction practice. All settlement contains opinion however accuracy will always be directly proportional to the amount of opinion that is substituted for fact. This said, I will try to limit my opinion in answering your questions to assist you in reaching an accurate perspective of the industry.
     
       With the respect of establishing some order, I think that I would like to respond to your last question first, the “Million Dollar Question”: The problem with any response to this question is that no one can predict how much work will be available in the foreseeable future (next two years) because the amount of work that will soon be available will be determined by (almost completely)  future, not past events. This in itself is practically the entire foundation that the Independent industry was built on.  Today’s Insurance companies rely on an Independent work force as an effective tool for handling the unforcastable overflow / glut of claim work that exceeds their ability to settle w/ in-house staff. Hiring and maintaining a large staff force in anticipation of large / unforeseeable events is not a cost effective solution and to date, I have yet to hear of any better means of handling large claim activity (within the mandates put in place by the DOI) than w/ an Independent force.  
     
       There is no such thing as a good time to start a claims industry career, there is only good timing.  If you obtain your adjuster’s license, carrier certification, complete estimatics and policy training now and a hurricane of any significance makes landfall on a populated area this year, chances are very good that you will receive an assignment w/not just one IA company but every IA Co. that you take the time to complete an application process / sign on with.
     
     $45K / year ?... Yearly earnings will depend on many things but I don’t want to skirt what I perceive to be the fundamental spirit of your question so I think the best way to provide you with some perspective on the subject, I will need to create an fictitious (yet very possible) chain of claim generating events that would level the work opportunity playing field for all catastrophe adjusters (newbies – old salts) for accurate comparison:
     
    Walk with me if you will to the year 200?, the year that began in mid January with a large earthquake in LA, followed by a record spring hail season, the landfall of a strong category 3 on the upper east coast in August followed by another hurricane of similar proportions in Miami come mid October. In this calendar year, all licensed property adjusters would  have the opportunity to work as many days as they could stand up to a total of 350 days.
     
    In this scenario, the individual yearly salaries would range (conservatively) from $0.00
    To $500,000.00 pre taxes and post deduction amt for carrier percentage split. Mixed amongst these incomes figures you would find:
     
    • Numerous new – moderately experienced adjusters who became overwhelmed w/their assignments and quit before their first paycheck.
    • Numerous hard core, tenacious new adjusters who slugged their way through all 350 days, billing on a component basis for the first 30 – 90 days and succumbing to a $476/day (daily rate) for the balance of days remaining in that year.
    • Some well seasoned / trained adjusters w/ average levels of motivation who quit the year in July after banking $250,000.00. (because that was more money than they had ever made in a given year)
    • Some highly motivated 2-3yr experience level adjusters who earned $200,000.00 - $350,000.00 by working the whole year strictly on a component basis.
    • Some 5 – 15+ year highly motivated crackerjack adjusters that earned $500,000.00+ ( very desirable to the industry because of their accuracy and efficiency) This group of adjusters were continuously pushed into large new claim inventories from event to event by the Independent firms that they worked for. (The industry tends to lead with their best foot forward because adjusters who make a lot of $ will also make a great deal of $ for the IA Co.s that employ them.)
     
    My conclusion:  There is no average income.
     
    That would be my most accurate assessment of yearly potential income based on what I have witnessed in past years. Note: some opinion was unavoidably included to cement the integrity of scope into some semblance of meaning.  If you would like my most politically correct answer than disregard what I just said, forget about potential salary and pay attention to the details and priorities of becoming well established in a new career.
     
    • Get licensed, IDL’d, certified and trained  because your opportunity to work storm will come. Most every year will include what I would call a jumping on event. The time just following a large catastrophic occurrence when the IA train (if you will) slows down just enough for new adjusters to jump on board. In other words, all licensed adjusters (with very few exceptions) wanting a storm assignment will get the opportunity to work a large occurrence. 
     
    • Don’t forget to bring your education, know how, insight, knowledge, understanding etc. of how the claims industry operates!  New Independent Adjusters could earn 2-3 times the salaries of new doctors and attorneys if they were simply willing to invested 1/10th of the time and financial resources of medical and law students. The opportunities (training schools, information and events) to learn are everywhere. Every major cat site  I witness a sea of new IAs that are forced to spend 12 out of every 14hr day in the office working on returned files and asking questions when they could be out in the field earning money.  Remember:   It’s Ready, Aim, Fire - NOT – Ready, Fire, Aim.    
     
    • Be prepared to demonstrate the appropriate attitude and capabilities for working both current and future claims.Getting invited back to work the smaller and more frequent (career sustaining) storm events will depend largely on a strong first assignment performance. It is very difficult to portray any redeemable qualities to a new employer when you are overwhelmed and frustrated. Your first storm deployment is nothing short of an interview for the chance to work future storm events.IA companies (much like any company that wants to prosper) don’t like to take a risk on the great unknown therefore they tend to carefully choose who to deploy from their list of employees whenever possible. IA companies don’t care how much or how little education or experience that you have because they have learned that the best way to evaluate an adjusters capabilities is by first hand knowledge of work product and behavior. (Example: I am currently deployed on a storm clean up assignment with a very capable and talented Independent Adjuster who never finished high school. With less than 3yrs of full time experience, he unquestionably has earned the respect of the IA firm that we work for because he is consistently offered storm work even during periods of slow storm activity.)
     
     How many companies to hire on with? – Sign up w/as many companies as you like or have time for but don’t let all that time and effort detract from the time and effort you should spend on getting prepared. Remember that even green adjusters are in high demand during a “jumping on” event.
     
    Flood training , wind training or both? Forget about flood for now, that will come. Taking a flood certification class now would serve little purpose as the Feds require 3yrs exp before they will give you a NFIP #. Focus on wind & estimatics certification as it does not require experience, besides most wind adjusters will get free flood certifications during a future large flood event by the carrier they work for.
     
       Hope this helps.
     
                               Kevin   (Owner/Operator K-Squared Cat Training Svs)
    CatSvs Trained
    spierce
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    06/07/2007 12:03 AM

    Let me tell you from first hand experience it is nearly impossible to break into this business without connections or a mentor to help you along until a hurricane or 2 hits, then you get work.  I had firms giving me 100 claims right out of the box when Katrina  hit and we never even had a phone conversation.  Emails and faxes of contracts and boom Im in business.  This I found out later was EXTREMELY RARE.  I had someone help me along and help me land "good work" during 2005, aside from that original 100.  Also, big difference in companies, good work and bad work, fee schedules yada yada.  Best advice,,,,, keep something going to bring money in for slow times.  When its slow, only the most seasoned adjusters get work and new folks either go broke waiting on a call from their "buddies" at the ind. office or stay busy doing other things to bridge gaps.

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