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Last Post 03/15/2008 2:06 AM by  Gale Hawkins
Common Estimating Errors
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johnpostava
SIMSOL.com
Member
Member
Posts:140


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02/29/2008 8:35 AM

    They say there have been more mistakes made by computers than Tequila and Hand Guns combined.  That being said, with the help of one of the top trainers at Vale National Training Center we published a white paper on what we feel are some of the top estimating errors adjusters make using computers or scoping losses in general.  The list is by no means complete.  The link is provided below.  Can you think of any other common mistakes even the best of us make from time to time?

    http://www.simsol.com/PDF%20Documen...Errors.pdf

     

     

    BobH
    Veteran Member
    Veteran Member
    Posts:759


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    02/29/2008 11:26 PM

    That's a really good article - and the only contribution I have is that one of the "estimating errors" I will admit to making in years past is not knowing how long it takes to do some of the tasks that are being expressed as time and materials.

    If I had a bad fire loss, or tree that really hammered the roof framing, I used to sit there wondering if I should allow 4, or maybe 8 hours for extra labor to perform Temporary Bracing and Shoring (plus some lumber materials).

    Then I learned the hard way that this is basically the time it takes to figure out materials and do a round-trip to the lumber yard and get the show on the road.

    I got sort of burned out from working claims for 14 years and worked construction for a year, then got back into claims. During that year I learned that the oddball labor items that don't fit into a unit cost - will often involve a crew, and not just one guy. And "it isn't a perfect world" so the repair you visualize sitting at your desk may not go that way in the real world.

    I shouldn't be too hard on myself - at least I usually recognized that the scope item was needed. So it wasn't totally omitted. But when I encounter odd stuff like that today, I think in terms of "2 man crew and this is going to screw up their day sufficiently that they may not be able to schedule another customer, so that's 16 hours right there" which is a lot different than 4 hours.  (of course there are tiny scope items that will be 1 hour, and that's OK). 

    We just had a lot of wind in my area and I looked at 5 tree vs house claims this week - and lots of fencing. The big fencing contractors here don't care if the Min Charge in your database is $250, they will tell you that a 2 man crew and a truck is going to be allocated for 1/2 day and they won't get out of bed for less than $500. I used to hear that and look at my database and get frustrated, and think they were just greedy. Especially if you had a different homeowner that submitted a reasonable bid (starving contractor or handyman).

    After seeing what it takes to make ends meet - I am more sympathetic to those issues and think twice before I assume the task can be done in a couple hours.  Maybe I will call another fence contractor, and if they won't get out of bed for less than $450 I will recommend the increase over the database price from $250 up to the $450 amount of claim "based on local market condtions" and include the contractor phone numbers on the estimate note.

    But you can't really stuff that into a checklist on your article - it wouldn't make sense unless the adjuster had bumped his shins a few times and realized himself how the real world relates to the estimate he is writing. Your article hits the big errors and it's a nice asset to our profession.

    On thing I will say - is that it is an error to think that every repair step can be expressed by a line item in a database.  Just recognizing that one thing is huge.  If an adjuster feels like his manager is going to reject an estimate because he inserted a text description of the oddball task, then followed it with a Misc. item (or Time and Materials) then something is wrong.  You have to explain, and justify what you are doing.   It's the only way to be fair, and for the claim to stay closed.

    I will cite an example for my friends who worked the California fires, or any house fire anywhere.  When you paint the exterior of a house that has landscaping, you may have BBQ bushes that get pulled - or you may just have smoke damage to the exterior and NEED TO TIE BACK the bushes in order to prep and paint that exterior. 

    That is not included in the paint item, and it would be silly to look for a database item to "tie back bushes".  You just need to figure out how many hours, don't overlook the needed scope item, and explain it in the estimate.  If you failed to explain it, someone is going to see that you are painting a house, and giving a "gift" of 2 men for 3 hours because you are a nice guy.  You just have to explain it, and make it make sense to someone else reading your estimate.

    Bob H
    stormcrow
    Member
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    Posts:436


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    03/01/2008 11:14 AM

    Likely the most common mistake is not preparing the estimate in the format required by the Insurer/vendor.

    I want to die peacefully in my sleep like my grandfather, not screaming in terror like his passengers.
    Ray Hall
    Senior Member
    Senior Member
    Posts:2443


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    03/01/2008 7:08 PM

    Your paper should be required reading John. I have always had a big problem with cleaning UPP with a 10 page line item estimate for smoke. When I saw my first small ash tray cost .45 and the large ashtray cost .65 to clean , I understood the magic of "measurable units".

    I have seen this many times in many places. Say the predominate composition shingle in the area is 25 year 3D shingle, on and off, sweep yard, haul trash, all roof jacks, drip edge all valley metal or ice shield for a flat xxx per square.

    Now the next roofing crompany will do the job for the same xxx BUT charge  extra for trash/dump/access/jacks/drip edge, and the adjusters and the carriers will let it go through. Most of the roof claims in Texas are turnkey for a flat on per sq measurement. I think we all realize all this is required for a good roof and I can,t think any adjuster or supervision will quibble.

    I have been back on many roofs that had the same drip edge and roof jacks in my hometown.

    okclarryd
    Veteran Member
    Veteran Member
    Posts:954


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    03/01/2008 7:36 PM
    The biggest mistake I've ever made is thinking I knew very much about estimating damage to property or vehicles.

    Other than that, I can't think of any.
    Larry D Hardin
    johnpostava
    SIMSOL.com
    Member
    Member
    Posts:140


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    03/03/2008 9:42 AM
    Larry,
    I agree. The most dangerous estimators are those that think they know everything and those that just want to stop learning.
    KLS
    Guest
    Guest
    Posts:43


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    03/03/2008 8:20 PM

    When training (or re-training) adjusters I do admit I tend to require them to be overly observant and request them to measure and photograph more than they want to.  It seems that most adjusters fail in their estimates because they failed in their inspection.  They tried to do too many losses too fast and waited too long to write the estimates.  A quality adjuster writes what he/she inspects every day and if they missed a photo or a measurement they go back and get it.  No exceptions.

    As a file examiner, I have no hesitation to reject a file when I see it was a wind/hail claim and they didn't inspect the roof or they mention something in their narrative that was damaged or in the photos but it's not in the estimate.  AND heaven forbid they ever give me photos of some other roof when I reject their file for not having gone up on an insured's roof.  Believe it or not I can tell the difference between red clay hip and a brown clay gable roof.  I can also see when all the photos were from the first story.

    I agree that 90% of the time both slopes on even a gable roof are the same length.  But I have been on far too many where one slope was over a foot longer on one slope than it was on the other.  I always measure both sides.  I  take a pitch gauge and photograph it on the roof.  I don't want to have to go back out latter or have a supplement come up because the contractor says he needs a steep charge on a 6/12 because he's calling it a 7/12.  I like the new Hagg shingle gauge just out.  I just had one where the contractor insisted the shingle was 25Y when it was 20Y.  I shot off my shingle gauge photo clearly showing the 20Y test to him and I never heard another word from him.  It's impossible to challenge a supplement for 25Y if you didn't take the gauge shot when the 20Y was still on the roof.

    An agreed scope between the Insured, the contractor, the PA and the adjuster goes without saying.  However, lastly, if the adjuster has authority to close the estimate with the insured (as in flood), that needs to be done in person with the Insured -- not over the phone and not by mail -- when ever possible.  I've found that my reopen issues and supplemental claims are almost non-existent and I really think that closing in person has been the key ingredient.

    As an adjuster and an examiner, it may take a good adjuster a little longer to close a file than a slam dunk artist but their's will stay closed when we are still trying to clean up after the slam dunk (and gone) adjuster.

    KLS

     

    Ray Hall
    Senior Member
    Senior Member
    Posts:2443


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    03/04/2008 10:22 AM

    Thanks for this post Kim. Far to many people think rush through and leave it to the clean uo crew. This is the way  most adjusters who have job security survive. Do it one time... the right way.

    Linda
    Life Member
    Guest
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    Posts:35


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    03/06/2008 4:09 PM
    I would caution that even Haag Engineering refers to the shingle gauge as an estimating tool as there are approximately 10% of the shingles on the market which do not conform to the gauge. Loss of granules affects the accuracy of the gauge as do other enviornmental elements. Remember it is an "estimating" tool and not a scientific instrument.
    Gale Hawkins
    PowerClaim.com
    Member
    Member
    Posts:386


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    03/15/2008 2:06 AM

    John that is a great white paper. Gene over at Vale National knows his stuff.

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