Wondering about training, and looking for a good course. I just completed the 3 week Property Adjusting course in Fresno at Vale National. Vale training is highly regarded by carriers and IA firms alike. I’ve written a 3 part report on my experiences there.
I'm attending @ Vale West in Fresno, CA. There were 9 students expected to attend this class but 5 didn’t show up so just 4 students in the class, holiday season I suppose.
My instructor for this 1st week is Gene Hensley a 34 year veteran adjuster and Vale’s longest term instructor with 16 years. The 1st week has been dedicated to studying insurance policies. We studied the 1991 HO 3 policy for the 1st three and a half days. Each day we go over parts of the policy, definitions, coverage’s, exclusions etc and there is a great workbook that follows along and clarifies the policy. The policy is discussed virtually line by line. We’ve completed approximately 32 written projects dealing with the policy sections in the last 4 days. Each morning we take a 10 question quiz that is graded. Mid-day yesterday, the 4th day, we started going over the differences in the 2000 HO 3 versus the 91 version and discussed the other HO policies, the DP or Dwelling Fire Policies and the various endorsements. This morning we take the main policy exam until mid-day then go over some of the commercial policies briefly.
The two remaining weeks will concentrate on estimating property damages and will be instructed by Neil Robertson.
This is my second report on the Vale adjusting course and it’s almost the end of the 2nd week. After week 1, studying policy, we have a different instructor, Neil Robertson, teaching construction of and identification of all of the products used to build a typical house and damageability and reparability of those products. We start each day with a 10 or 11 question, graded, quiz on what was discussed the previous day. We then study several areas of building products then go out to the ‘typical house’ built in the warehouse, look at damages to those products that have been staged by Vale’s staff. Neil gives us a mock claim assignment and scope outline. We do our measuring/scope notes and go to the computer lab and write an estimate. The 1st 3 estimates were not graded, now all estimates are going to be graded and count toward the final grade. The computer lab has computers loaded with all of the normally used estimating programs. Since I’ve used Xactimate quite a bit I opted to work my claims with IntegriClaim to learn another program. After lunch we study more building products then go the ‘house’ get another ‘claim’ and complete another estimate in the computer lad to complete the day. The two estimates done each day are to be turned in the next day so you can look them over in conjunction with the notes you’ve taken that day and the manual. If needed, you can correct the estimates on a break before submitting them to Neil for grading. Tomorrow morning, Friday, we will take a 25 question weeks-end exam covering the week’s studies. The exam tomorrow will be mostly T or F or multiple-choice, but there will also be some estimating calculations to work out
Monday was all framing components, floor, walls and roofs (stick framed and trusses) and included sheathings for those systems. Tuesday we did interior plasters, drywall, textures, paint and wallpaper. Wednesday was stair systems and related parts and how to measure carpeting on stairs. We then did trim/millwork and cabinets/countertops. Today was floor coverings, starting with wood and all of the variations through laminates then carpet and pad then vinyl (sheet, VA and VC). We basically did tile floors with tile countertops yesterday. With each product is discussion on how it reacts to probable losses and what methods can be used to repair IF repair is possible, how to estimate that product and all of the related terminology.
The 1st week, policy we started at 8:30 am, took breaks about every hr. went to lunch @ 11:30 for an hour and a half and finished around 3:30 pm except for Friday, test day, we finished @ 11:30 for the day. We have approximately the same schedule this week except we usually knock off @ more like 4:30 pm Mon. – Thur. Tomorrow we’ll also finish up around mid day. .
The instructor, Neil, is great. He was a manager with AAA of N. California for many years and was company liaison with the carriers preferred contractors. He knows the construction and products inside out and backwards and has managed adjusters for a long time so he can relate what is expected by management and file reviewers on the estimates. He’s also funny and keeps the class entertaining and moving along.
Well I’d better start reviewing for the test tomorrow. I’ll post again at the end of next week, the final week. It will be all about exteriors and roofs.
Well, I finally finished the 3 week Vale Property Adjusting course today.
I think I wrote the last update last Thursday night. We took our weeks-end exam the next Friday morning, that covered all the information learned through that, the second week, interior materials. After the exam Friday morning we studied doors and windows and wrote a couple more estimates related to those and included other interior items. The Vale house has several types of doors and windows, each with different finishes, through-out the rooms. For that matter, the Vale house has varieties of each type of building materials interior and exterior. Monday we started exterior materials, possible, probable and improbable damages to those materials, repair options - if any, terminology and how to properly measure and estimate for each. Monday was masonry, including concrete, block wall, brick etc. Tuesday was sidings, wood including bevel, lap and plywood (like T 1-11), then vinyl, metal (like aluminum), cement based sidings and stucco.
Wednesday was all about roofing materials for shedding roofs and flat roofs starting with the most common roofing, 3 tab asphalt, then other asphalt roofing materials, wood shingles/shake. Then some of the more common flat roof materials such as modified bitumen and roll roofing and how to tell all of these when you see them. I don’t think I’ve mentioned it but throughout all of the instruction Neil has samples of the materials that he’s discussing and passes them around the class. Throughout these two weeks, when appropriate, we do a lot of math with blackboard questions and examples of the proper methods of measuring areas related to the different materials, like roof and gable areas, for instance. When there are shortcut methods of measuring Neil imparts them to you. I’ve taken an average of 6 pages of notes per day during his classroom instructions and have added those to the tab sections in the 3 ring manual that is given to each student. As I’ve mentioned, each morning we’ve started the day with a 10-11 question quiz, that usually includes 1 or 2 questions of math and quantity measuring for the products/materials studied the prior day. We also do two estimates for “claims” related to those materials out in the Vale house and then in the computer lab. All of these quizzes and estimates are graded and become a part of your final grade. Yesterday was another short quiz in the AM then the ‘Final Estimate’ that incorporated much of what we have learned over the last two weeks. Neil told us his goal for the class was to have everyone knowledgeable enough with building material and comfortable enough with our selected estimating software that we could easily write $8,000 to $10,000 residential dwelling estimates. He surmises that most, larger estimates we’ll encounter will probably be more of those same items. The Final Estimate came in right around $9,200 and incorporated damage in numerous rooms with a lot of line items required. Today we took the 2nd, and last, of the two week-end exams to complete the course. It had around 18 questions.
I understand why Vale is such a highly regarded school by the carriers and IA firms. They are very through and @ least the instructors here in Fresno really try hard to make sure everyone Gets-It. I can’t say enough about what a great instructor Neil Robertson is as well as funny and entertaining. If you’re going to go to Vale try and do the Fresno school with Neil, you’ll be glad you did. The other great benefit of coming here is all of the stuff to do around Fresno. Yosemite is 50 minutes north, Sequoia National Park and National Forest is about 60 miles to the East the Pacific is about 2 hours either northwest towards the Bay area or the same southwest to Paso de Robles and the drive on Pacific Coast Hwy is between, with beaches all along the way. There are great vineyards and orange farms all around here. Well signing off on the Vale adventure.