Do it right the first time and reduce re-opens
/ Categories: CADO Blog, Cat Adjusting

Do it right the first time and reduce re-opens

The primary thing an adjuster needs to do is communicate with the insured. I cannot emphasize that enough. We do not know if there is an error, an oversight or what, until we get out there. The adjuster is always supposed to communicate the proposed settlement with an insured and many people tell us they never heard from the adjuster after he was out there. Whether that is true or not is not the issue. If the adjuster is overly clear not only on the amount of the settlement but exactly what he is recommending, it leaves little room for misunderstandings. Further, if he/she is extremely clear, people will not have the tendency to want to say they never heard from the adjuster.

The other thing that I cannot emphasize enough is to be thorough during the inspection. Take the time to look at EVERYTHING!!!!! 

This particular storm came out of the North and West. So, 90% of the damage is to the North and West Elevations. But, there are still gutters damaged on the south and east elevations. We have found damage to the siding on the east and south elevations because a vehicle, RV or other structure is in close proximity and baseball size hail will still cause damage to aluminum siding after it bounces off something 3 or 4 feet away. Or they simply don't look at screens, windows, gutters, downspouts or siding. They need to slow down and REALLY look at everything. It takes more time and yes, you may only look at 5 claims in a day instead of 10, but those claims close and will tend to stay closed. 

Based upon your own experience, tell me the last vendor and company that were not happy with 5 claims closed per day, every day from the second or third day of the storm.

Next, I would recommend the adjuster be very clear and concise with the estimate. We are getting a lot of estimates that even we cannot tell what the adjuster did. The estimate allows 542 s.f. of siding but we do not know if that is the north elevation, west elevation, both or more. Not only does the insured not know if the adjuster allowed only for the north elevation and did not include the west elevation, but we don't know and we have to re-measure everything to try to figure it out.

The adjuster should carry a "SAMPLE" estimate with them. If they meet with the insured and obtain an agreed scope, they can show the sample to the insured and explain it. It helps the insured understand better when they receive theirs in the mail and will stop a lot of call backs because the insured does not know what the heck the estimate says other than the loss is $10,000 and they are only getting $4,000.

Also, be thorough in scoping regarding measurements and what is there. We have been on roofs that we were not sure were the same one looked at by the adjuster. The insured assures us he was present when the adjuster was on the roof. We found the roof to be 12 foot longer than the original scope/estimate/diagram. We found two layers of asphalt and one layer of Wood shingles on the roof. The roof has an intersecting gable, but it is not on the diagram. This is just one example. We are constantly re-inspecting claims because there was more than one layer and a lot where there is three layers of asphalt and one layer of wood. I make a habit of lifting the shingles while I am still on the ladder and determining the number of layers before I get on the roof. I will take a photo showing the number of layers. If there is only one layer, I usually do not turn it in to the company. If there is more than one layer, I turn in the photos necessary to document what I am recommending be torn off. I carry a pry bar, to get to the last layer if necessary and a can of tar to seal the area after I tear the H--- out of it, but no one comes back and says hey, you missed four layers!!!

In hail claims you have to look at a screen and you have to look at the trim around a window. 

We are the "experts." People want to be able to call their insurance company and get an inspection that they feel confident identifies the damage. When they have a contractor come out and the contractor finds obvious damage and/or additional layers of roof covering, it throws the entire original inspection into question and erodes that insured's confidence in the adjusting process.

Since this spring, things have been pretty quiet. As you know from the postings, a lot of adjusters are looking and waiting for work.

Lori and I have worked since May 15 with only seven (7) days that we have taken off including this weekend for our granddaughters' fourth birthday. 

We like to think it is for a number of reasons:

1. We are prompt in contacting insureds and very clear in our initial contact about who we are, what we are going to do, when we are going to do it and we comply with all those commitments. We also provide the insured with a number where they can reach us for ANY reason and we return all call promptly.

2. We are always, I mean always, courteous to the insured even when they are not courteous to us. We never react to anger, impatience or any other negative response from an insured for any reason. We are continuously polite and seriously act as if they are being polite. When they find that they are not going to get ANY reaction from us, they ALWAYS become friendly.

3. We are thorough in our inspections. We not only look at things once, with both of on site, we look at things twice and sometimes more. I realize that not everyone is a husband/wife/significant other/partner team. If it is just one person it becomes more incumbent upon that one person to be even more thorough. I know Lori is behind me and if I get lazy she'll still catch the damage. The single person does not have that luxury. I compare us to the outfield on a baseball team. If the infielder misses a ground ball he has the outfield backing him up. The outfielder only needs to turn around every once in a while to know there is no one else back there. The adjuster needs to realize that if he misses damage, there is no one else that may find it. The policy says it will pay for direct physical loss. If an adjuster does not find existing damage, than the company has indirectly violated its own policy.

4. Photographs. We take beaucoup photos. I am sure too many in some cases, but we never seem to get any complaints over the number we take. And we are detailed in our description of photos. Our description of a risk is not "Risk." It will say, "Risk. One story, one family, owner occupied, frame dwelling with attached two car garage located at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, Washington, DC in average maintenance and condition. The dwelling faces south." 

It does not say "Roof." It says "North roof elevation looking west. Test area showing 8+ hail hits to 3-tab, composition, asphalt shingles." 

And if there are certain things that have been sustaining damage but we are not including it in our estimate we will photo it to show no damage

5. Scope Notes/Sheets. Lori and I utilize two (2) different scope sheets. One for the roof and one for the rest of the exterior. It has areas for diagrams and it has items to be inspected and the quantity, such as roof vents, ridge vents, gutters, downspouts, siding w/ type and size, screens, etc. We check each item visually and then either mark the quantity damaged or indicated it is okay. That way we know it’s been checked when we prepare the estimate. WE ALSO TURN A COPY OF OUR SCOPE SHEETS IN WITH OUR FILE WHEN WE CLOSE IT. If someone has to come behind us, they know what we were looking at and what we found. I do not know what anybody looked at or what they found other than very confusing estimates.

6. Reporting. Everyone, including us hates paperwork. When I started in claims 26 years ago I could spend 7 hours in the field and have 1 hour of paperwork. Well, that's why they're called the "good ole days." We can either waste time moaning about it or we can come to realize that more is required today and it is all part of the professionalism. Some companies don't want/require a lot of paperwork or verbiage on a claim. Well, that’s too bad, they're still going to get at least one full page from us. 26 years ago, my mentor told me, "Tell them what you did, why you did it and what you’re going to do about it." It still applies and it is still pretty easy once the routine is down. We tell them what we found during our scope and what we recommend and propose about it. We also tell them what we did not find in some instances. If there is no damage to the A/C unit, we will comment upon it. If there is no damage to siding, we will comment upon it and maybe tell them it is wood siding with no damage to the finish. It takes us maybe 10 minutes to prepare our one page report. Now, at five claims per day, that’s 50 minutes. But any kind of report will take at least 5 minutes, so we are talking less than 30 minutes to be thorough. And I carry E&O insurance so we are going to make sure we cover ourselves on paper.

6. We get back to most insureds after we are done with our estimate. There are always going to be some insured who never seem to be home and won't return calls, but that is a very few. Most will want to know and if you leave a message saying you have it done and you WANT to talk to them BEFORE you turn it in, believe me, they will call. If they don't then the third time we will leave as much detail as possible on the message. And we have AT&T so we can leave a message even if they don't have an answering machine.

But, when we do reach them, we go over our estimate, line by line and thoroughly explain depreciation/holdback and ACV. This is not rocket science and I find even elderly people can understand it if one takes the time to explain it clearly. If someone can't explain it clearly then I would question whether THEY understand it. And we always invite people to call us back if they have a PROBLEM OR QUESTION. I don't want them calling their agent, company or brother. I want them to call me. The less calls anyone else gets about George or Lori the better we look. So, if a 83 year old woman wants to call me because her contractor told her he wanted 1/3 down when she signs the contract, I am more than happy to talk to her about it and remind her to check the BBB, ask for and check references, etc.

We are first professionals and second in a service industry. If we cannot take the time to be professionals and provide the service then we should get out of this business. 

Sometimes we are embarrassed by what other adjusters have said and done. Claims magazine reported that the insurance claim business is just above used car salesman and we have no one to blame but ourselves. Lori and I spend a lot of our time trying to undo the ill-will that some 10 minute adjuster did because he wanted to see 10 or 15 claims that day and could not take the time with any one insured to make them feel like their claim was nothing but something keeping him/her from getting 11 or 16 looked at that day.

by George Mullett

This excerpt is from an article that was first posted in the Adjuster's Forum click here to go to the forum.

Previous Article Ladder Safety
Next Article Profession or Commodity
101994 Rate this article:
  • Comments

1 comments on article "Do it right the first time and reduce re-opens"

Avatar image


Excellant article! This should be required reqading for both veterans and newbies both. If we expect to be called back to work for the carriers and vendors it is our job to be the best. In times like these when claims are slow it does not hurt to reflect back when we were busy and how we did our jobs and what we can improve upon in the future.

Please login or register to post comments.

Popular Post

Quick Tip - Xactimate v25: Adjusting O&P Per Claim

In this quick tip we cover issues related to Overhead & Profit (O&P) that you may encounter in the field.  Some clients may request that you handle O&P in a different way then what your current default settings allow.  In those cases you may only wish to change the settings on a selected file instead of changing your system setup. 

Saturday, July 12, 2008/Author: Roy/Number of views (144827)/Comments (0)/
Categories: CADO BlogSoftware
Tags: Xactimate
Do it right the first time and reduce re-opens

Do it right the first time and reduce re-opens

This article was moved from the old system. It was written by George Mullet in 2000. The primary thing an adjuster needs to do is communicate with the insured. I cannot emphasize that enough. We do not know if there is an error, an oversight or what, until we get out there. The adjuster is always supposed to communicate the proposed settlement with an insured and many people tell us they...
Saturday, March 31, 2007/Author: Roy/Number of views (101994)/Comments (0)/
View From the Slough, Too - The Art and Science of Branch Assist

View From the Slough, Too - The Art and Science of Branch Assist

View From the Slough, Too The Art and Science of Branch Assist By Steve Ebner (   I originally wrote this article back in 2001, and hundred of people read it on CADO, but at some point the link to the article became bad. So, for years I have not even been able to access it. I thought the article was lost for good until I recently discovered it on an old...
Tuesday, August 07, 2007/Author: Medulus/Number of views (94730)/Comments (0)/

Comparative Performance of EPDM As Protection Against Hail Damage

By Ric Vitiello is president of Benchmark Services Inc. "Among the most serious and challenging threats to the performance of any roofing system is hail damage. Failure of a roof membrane due to hailfall can result in flooding and damage to inventory and equipment. Protecting against hail damage is one of the ultimate tests of any roofing ...
Tuesday, March 04, 2008/Author: Roy/Number of views (91748)/Comments (0)/
Categories: CADO Blog

Common Estimating Errors

By John Postava;  First posted in the forum. "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 ...
Friday, February 29, 2008/Author: Roy/Number of views (86410)/Comments (0)/
Categories: CADO Blog
They don't just hand you the keys.

They don't just hand you the keys.

This article comes from a forum post that was made by rass3742 on 9/12/2006 One thing I’ve noticed is the incessant struggle between newbies and veterans of our industry, as they scrimmage to identify the paradigm of CAT adjusting.  As a veteran of claims adjusting myself, I have taken the long road here and know that I am better for it. I have just recently become...
Friday, February 16, 2007/Author: Roy/Number of views (86279)/Comments (0)/
Catadjusting and Crisis Intervention

Catadjusting and Crisis Intervention

This is an article I have considered writing for years, one that deals with some of the emotional/psychological elements of working with people who have experienced personal crisis as a result of a catastrophic event, especially with regard to what this means for effective claim settlement.

Thursday, August 16, 2007/Author: Roy/Number of views (86220)/Comments (0)/


State-run insurer of last resort bears much of coastal cost By Mary Williams Walsh © 2008 The New York Times, Reproduced under license from the Copyright Clearance Center Hurricane Ike caused as much as $16 billion in property damage, by some estimates, but the state-led insurance pool that will ...
Wednesday, September 17, 2008/Author: Roy/Number of views (78587)/Comments (0)/
Categories: CADO Blog
Ladder Safety

Ladder Safety

This is a repost of the article. We are moving all articles from the old format to the new format. As hail season approaches we want to remind everybody to think ladder safety each and ever time you grab that ladder. OSHA has reported that the most recent accident statistics suggest that the working men and women in America abuse and misuse ladders in the workplace as a rule rather than an...
Friday, March 30, 2007/Author: Roy/Number of views (76303)/Comments (0)/
Categories: CADO Blog

Flooding the Market with Useless Prospects: CAT Adjusters and Training

An opinion by Phillip Crimaldi  "I’m fairly certain, at least from my own research, that a few things happened somewhere around the post-Katrina era.  First, a handful of hardworking independent adjusters made a bunch of money.  The adjusting companies who had the contracts for those claims made millions, and some of them made successful businesses that continue to...
Thursday, June 12, 2014/Author: CADO Admin/Number of views (50498)/Comments (0)/