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I've just ended a phone call with a newly licensed adjuster. She has just received her adjuster license. She has completed several days of Xactimate training and some other certification classes. But she called our Enrollment Center, desperately seeking answers to a very important question:

"How do I actually find work?"

Like so many others, this woman has invested her time and money training in the field of adjusting only to run into a brick wall. She has called many of the top-rated independent adjusting agencies - and was told that she wasn't ready to join their roster.

"Why am I not ready? What more do I need?"

This is a question that I must get asked at least a dozen times a week. For every person who calls Catastrophe Adjuster Training Institute wanting to learn, from the very beginning, what is required to work as a Claims Adjuster - I get another person or two who (like the woman above) has started her training but didn't know at the beginning of the process what they needed.

In the case of the woman I spoke to today, what she needed was Scoping training. A hands-on Adjusting 101 class that covered the Fundamentals of Claims, taught adjusters how to market themselves (and to whom) and actually got them up on a roof, writing claims.

Why does it seem like nobody out there (with the exception of us) wants to give new adjusters a heads-up on what they're going to need? Isn't it better to fully inform people of all the requirements before they get started?

Don't you want to know before you start paying for training the full scope of what you will need to be successful?

This is a question that has plagued me lately. How do I get in front of those people - new people looking at the Claims Industry - and give them that heads-up that's so critically needed? How do we share this information before people start piece-mealing their classes? How do we inform the public of the requirements to become a Claims Adjuster?

That, my folks, is what this blog is about today. We want to know from you - how do we get ahead of these questions and help prepare people before they start shopping around? How do we share the facts about training in this industry? We would sincerely love your comments - you're free to post on our Facebook page. Tell us how you think we can better inform the public - in advance. Thank you!

July 7, 2016


 

Recently I read the following article http://www.salon.com/2016/05/18/a_massive_earthquake_is_imminent_partner/ from Salon stating that a massive Earthquake is poised to hit the San Andreas faultline.

The article appears to have merit - leading seismologists are all concerned that the San Andreas is on the precipice of a major shift event.

I don't have a crystal ball (oh, and if I did....!) but having worked in the adjuster training industry for nearly 10 years, I've LONG been predicting a serious Califoria Earthquake.

One of the big X factors in quake predictive behaviors is the length of time between significant earthquakes. The San Andreas faultline (which runs through western California, from the north end to the south) is a prime example of what I like to term the "Happy Staccato Effect" (term entirely mine).

The "Happy Staccato Effect" refers to the ideal situation at the faultline: short, frequent bursts of seismic activity. Why do we want to see frequent shifting at the San Andreas? Because the more seismic activity you have, the less likely the quake is to be significant.

Scientifically, seismologists say that if the San Andreas experiences a dozen little bursts each year they are less likely to be severe. They would tend to range in the 3.0 to 5.0 range. A 3.0 quake is usually not even felt. A 5.0 would be felt but would likely result in little structural damage.

They say that the longer the San Andreas goes between quakes, the more likely those quakes are to be severe. The ideal span of time between moderate quakes would be roughly 7-8 years. And that means that after 8 years of no significant quake activity, the chances start to exponentially increase that what we're going to get is a major seismic event.

The Big One, folks.

When the experts tell us a quake is coming, you bet I'm gonna listen.

So, what is California Earthquake Certification? Well, it's a special certification above and beyond the basic adjuster license that is now required in order to write a claim in California following a quake.

After the Northridge Earthquake in 1994, there were a series of legal issues involving the subsequent claims that were filed by home and business owners. The state of California decided that a higher level of education and certification was required of its adjusters to write these claims. It's not unlike flood certification in that regard. But the only state that has a required Earthquake Certification is California.

So, if a quake hits the West Coast won't California just issue emergency certifications so that adjusters can get in and write those claims? 

Probably not. The California Dept of Insurance can issue emergency, temporary licenses in the event of a general catastrophic event requiring large numbers of adjusters in the field. But the California Earthquake Certification is not issued by the Dept of Insurance. It's handled by the California Earthquake Authority - a separate governmental body.

Luckily, Catastrophe Adjuster Training Institute regularly partners with the California Earthquake Authority and offers their Earthquake (CAEQ) certification. We usually offer it in conjunction with the Adjuster Conferences we partner with US Adjusting Services on every other year.

The California Earthquake Certification is good for 3 years. But don't wait. Don't assume that an emergency certificate will be issued if a quake does hit (and eventually, one will). Make sure all your licenses and required certifications are up to date.

An earthquake in California will be a significant event in the adjusting industry. Don't let it catch you off-guard.

June 29, 2016


 

We know that you want to be successful.

We know that you want to be proficient with your claims.

And we know how exciting and lucrative the field of Independent Claims Adjusting is - that's why we're here! Catastrophe Adjuster Training Institute has been training adjusters (independent, staff and public adjusters) since 2005. 

We didn't arbitrarily decide upon 14 days of training (4 days of prelicensing, 5 days of scoping/fundamentals and 5 days of software). Our training program was specifically developed to meet the needs of Independent Adjusters and Independent Adjuster agencies throughout the US.

But even now, eleven years after we began training, we still get questions from people about live versus web-based training.

Folks, there are no shortcuts. There's no way to cut something significant out of your training and still be successful in the field. You need the best that training can provide. 

The only part of your training that can - in theory - be done online is your prelicensing. That's because what ultimately matters is the end result (the license itself) and not the method in which you get that license. But if you don't have a background in insurance, in understanding policy, you may be very challenged to pass a web-based prelicensing class. Many online programs have as low as a 50% pass ratio for prelicensing.

CATI's live prelicensing as a 99% or higher pass ratio! It's because our classes are live, in person, with an instructor with real world, field experience teaching the class.

But even if you do decide to pursue a web-based training for your prelicensing, your practical classes must be live. Today, every adjusting agency has a test or assessment that you have to pass just to join their roster. There is no way to pass that test unless you have had live, practical, hands-on and software training.

Did you know that if you get sent to the field for a claim assignment and you can't keep up that your claims will likely be reassigned to someone else and you won't get paid for the work you have done? If you just paid hotel and gas expenses to get to a storm, you're going to be incredibly discouraged by this news.

Don't waste your time or money on anything less than exactly what you need. Train with CATI and train with the best!

June 16, 2016


 

Did you know that Catastrophe Adjuster Training Institute has been training adjusters since 2005?

Eleven years of unprecedented, thorough Claims Adjuster Training in a dedicated hands-on facility. Fourteen comprehensive days of prelicensing, policy, scoping and estimatics training. There's nobody else in the industry who does what CATI does, as thoroughly as we do it. We're pretty proud of our program and our training team.

In these past eleven years we have seen many changes from our students. In 2005 and 2006, students were desperate to get scoping and Xactimate training - often after they had been sent to the storms and then sent back home again because they needed more than just a license to be able to understand the complexity of the work. From 2007-2009 our focus was on continuing to prepare new adjusters to work as Independent Adjusters, primarily in storm assignments. From 2010 to 2012 the emphasis was on adjusters who were investing in training in hopes of securing full-time work with the insurance carriers. This was, after all, in the aftermath of the Big Recession when people needed work and most wanted full-time work so they'd have more of a financial guarantee.

But since 2013, the focus in the industry has shifted and the conversation we have with prospective students ahead of training reflect this. Today, the insurance carriers aren't doing much hiring. They are, in fact, cutting back their staff adjusters (often with early retirement packages) and this might be because of the cost of health care and benefits.

But claims don't stop just because Insurance Company ABC doesn't have 600 adjusters ready and able to write those claims. And this isn't just for storms - this is for the stuff that happens every day, around the country. Small wind and hail storms. Home fires. Freeze claims and Vandalism. Anything and everything that damages insured property must have a claim filed. So who's handling those claims?

You guessed it: Independent Adjusters. They've always been available as back-up when storms and major events occurred. Now, they're working pretty much everything.

We've often said, here at CATI, that there's no better time to get into this industry - but today in June 2016 that statement is especially true. How much longer will the 2016 Wind/Hail season - and all the damage and destruction across Texas - continue? Will we have Tropical Storms or Hurricanes this summer? While nobody knows for certain the answer to these questions, we do know one thing:

When a claim happens, an Independent Adjuster is likely to be who is called to handle it. 

Make that Adjuster you - call Catastrophe Adjuster Training Institute today at 469.261.6710 to register for our next complete training program.

June 9, 2016


 

There are four seasons each year, of course, but there are two active storm seasons in the United States.

Wind/Hail season officially runs March 1st through June 30th of each spring. It overlaps with Tropical Season which runs June 1st through November 30th.

Historically, Wind/Hail season tends to be the most consistent season. Tropical Season, while less historically consistent, can produce some of the most significant storms including hurricanes.

Both the Wind/Hail season as well as the Tropical Seasons each year can be hugely impacted by the El Nino/La Nina effects. 2016 is proving to be one of those years!

El Nino is associated with a band of warm ocean water that develops in the central and east-central equatorial Pacific Ocean. El Niño, the warm phase, is accompanied by high air pressure in the western Pacific and low air pressure in the eastern Pacific. La Nina, by contrast, is the cooling phase.

El Nino tends to produce warmer, milder winters but more dramatic springtime storms in the Continental U.S. La Nina often brings colder and snowier winters but also a higher likelihood for significant storms during Tropical Season.

2016 is on record already for it's weather patterns. We began the year in an El Nino climate - but not just any El Nino. This year was categorized by weather bloggers as the "Godzilla El Nino" because it was anticipated to be a much stronger warming pattern than normal. Historians compared this year's Godzilla El Nino to a similar weather pattern in 1997-1998.

La Nina was present during the summers of both 2004 and 2005, which not surprisingly were the most catastrophic seasons in the US for tropical weather and hurricanes.

We knew that this year's very potent El Nino season would bring with it the potential for very damaging Wind and Hail storms this spring. This has proven very true. Just the past week alone there have been more than 100 confirmed tornadoes across the central and southeastern States. And we still have about 5 more weeks of Wind/Hail season, folks.

The one bright spot of this year's Super El Nino effect has been a lessening of the drought conditions in the West.

But we were anticipating El Nino lasting for a full year and a half - from November 2015 when it came rolling in from the Pacific Ocean, until Spring of 2017. Folks in California were enthused to hear those predictions.

Now, the forecasters have made a sharp reversal of that prediction. Last month, in Apriil 2016, meteorologists predicted that La Nina would take over within the next 6 months. This means that our wet weather - so badly needed in the West - will begin to taper off and potentially impact future drought conditions again. It also means that we are poised to possibly experience a severe Tropical Season.

Usually, El Nino and La Nina switch in the wintertime. Which means that during a single year we might see a significant Wind/Hail season or we might see a strong Tropical Season - not usually both. It all depends on how quickly La Nina decides to show up. Bear in mind that although La Nina cools the Pacific, she heats the Atlantic Ocean. And the hotter the temperatures are in the Atlantic Ocean, the more likely a tropical depression or disturbance can turn into a storm or even a hurricane. So the earlier La Nina shows up, the more opportunity she has to heat up those ocean waters and create some tropical storms.

So, we are all in a wait and see mode right now, here in May 2016. How many more tornadoes will we experience this Spring? When will La Nina come in and how big of an impact might she have on our East Coast this summer and Fall.

Wait and see, folks. Just a little weather lesson for you today. We hope everyone has a beautiful Memorial Day weekend - stay safe everyone!

May 27, 2016 


 

... even if you don't live in Texas.

Of the 50 states, there are currently 40 that require licenses. You might be surprised to learn many of the states that see the most consistent wind/hail storms (Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska) don't require licenses. Although the states that tend to get tropical weather are all among those that do require licenses.

The first thing you should do upon deciding to become a Claims Adjuster is to contact your home state Department of Insurance to find out your licensing requirements.

But you'll notice that we - and other training programs - typically include the Texas All-Lines Adjuster License.

We've blogged previously about what an All-Lines license is (compared to a Property & Casualty license). But why Texas? Why is it so popular?

That is because the Texas All-Lines Adjuster license is reciprocal to approximately 30 additional states. That would be all but 9 of the states that require licenses.

So, what is reciprocity and what does that mean for the adjusters?

Reciprocity essentially means that one license will allow you to apply for another. Since Texas (and Florida) have the highest reciprocity at 30, that means that if you have your Texas All-Lines Adjuster license you will easily be able to apply for and acquire licenses in a number of other states.

If your home state reciprocates the Texas Adjuster license with no restrictions, that means that you can get licensed first in Texas - and then you'll be able to apply for your home state license without having to take any further training or exams. Same with any other states that reciprocate.

Some states, however, do have restrictions to their reciprocity. For instance: Michigan reciprocates the Texas All-Lines Adjuster license however they limit that reciprocity to non-residents of Michigan.

So, if you live in Ohio you can first get a Texas Adjuster License and then you can apply for a Michigan adjuster license.

But if you live in Michigan, they want you to get licensed first in Michigan.

This can all sound confusing. Obviously that's why we encourage you to first contact your state's Department of Insurance to verify what your rules are. Your state sets your rules.

But the advantage to the issue of reciprocity is that it allows adjusters to easily acquire licenses in a variety of states, with the least amount of time and expense involved. And that gives you the freedom to travel and work claims across the country, which increases your likelihood and opportunities to work.

And that's a good thing, of course. It's all about increasing your odds.

May 18, 2016

 


 

So you have decided to become a Claims Adjuster! You've researched and discovered that you need to get a license, you need some practical training and you need to get trained in a software system called Xactimate.

Xactimate is used by the vast majority of insurance carriers for claims, so it is the industry leader.

But in doing your research you find that there are several different versions of Xactimate training. You find the 5-day class offered here at Catastrophe Adjuster Training Institute but you also find some shorter classes, around 3-days each.

Understandably, those 3 day Xactimate classes might be cheaper than our 5-day class.

You want to be a successful adjuster but money is a factor. Why would you want to invest in 5-days of training instead of just 3?

There are two reasons. First, after you have been licensed and trained as a Claims Adjuster your next step will be to market yourself for assignments. You're going to reach out to Independent Adjusting agencies to register with them for work. Each of those agencies will have a test or assessment. Xactimate skills will be included in that assessment.

When you get just 3 days of Xactimate training, you are only going to be trained on the Beginner functions of the software system. It will not include the Advanced functions, like Xactanalysis and Sketch. Those functions are part of what those agencies will test you on before you can join their roster.

That means that a 3-day Xactimate class does not provide enough training to allow you to be considered for Claim work as an Independent Adjuster.

The second factor is proficiency. When you go out and work claims as a brand new adjuster, you're going to work very long days just starting out. It will take you several hours at each property to assess the damage and take notes and it will take you several hours each evening to prepare, complete and submit each of your claims. A new adjuster can capably only handle about 2 claims per day.

But in time you begin to find that your long day starts to shrink. It begins to take a little less time at each property, scoping the damages, and it begins to take a little less time each evening to create your claims.

The scoping has everything to do with you really understanding the work that you're doing and becoming more comfortable and confident in the field. That's something that will continue to grow throughout your career.

The claim creation time has everything to do with your level of proficiency with Xactimate. That means that the more comfortable you become with the software, the less time it will take you to create each of your claims. Eventually you will find that your day is ending a little earlier and you will soon be able to take on the responsibilility of working a third claim each day.

But it's specifically your proficiency - your knowledge and capability - with the Xactimate software system that leads to that factor. That means that as you grow more comfortable with Xactimate you're going to be able to handle more claims per day.

As a new adjuster you're often paid per claim. So being able to handle three claims per day is going to increase your income from being able to handle two claims per day.

As a new adjuster it is the single most important factor you can control in increasing your earning potential. Why, then, would you want to start your career with anything less than the complete training you need to walk into a storm and be successful.

That's why you don't want a three-day Xactimate class. Yes, they are cheaper, but you get what you pay for and you earn based on what you've invested in yourself.

May 10, 2016

 


 

Did you know that Catastrophe Adjuster Training Institute has been training Claims Adjusters since 2005?

Do you know WHY we created our training program and why it's 14 days long (compared with the 7-day programs that many of the other adjuster training companies offer)?

That's because before CATI, working with independent adjusting agencies, adjusters were getting sent out to the field and then getting sent home again.

Imagine investing in getting your adjuster license and training, working hard over several months to get listed with adjusting agencies, getting your first assignment, investing your money to deploy - only to get sent home!

Did you know that if you are sent home for a storm - because you're unprepared - that your claims will likely be reassigned to another adjuster and they will be the ones to get paid for them? Even if you did all the legwork, photos, etc?

How would you feel if you had spent months and your hard-earned money to become an adjuster, to get out to the field only to be turned away and sent home - without pay?

Did you know that if you're sent home from a storm that you have just significantly limited your chances of being deployed again - with that adjusting agency but also with the insurance company in question?

Why, then, would you want anything other than a thorough training program? One that fully prepared you to be in the field, to work your claims from start to finish, and to sustain yourself?

That is what CATI offers and has always offered. For the past eleven years we have been working closely with independent adjusters, independent adjusting agencies and also with insurance carriers to make sure that our class offerings meet the demands and needs of the industry. To fully train and prepare new adjusters to handle the demands of their claims responsibilities.

The bottom line is this: You need to be licensed, trained and Xactimate proficient to get work as an adjuster. You need no less than 4 days of Xactimate training in order to be comfortable and confident submitting claims. And you need a thorough Adjusting 101 course in order to understand the fundamentals of claims as well as how to scope & assess the various types of damages.

Did you know that the 7-day training programs offer only a 1-day Adjusting 101 session - and it's taught in a conference room! It is not hands-on! How can you learn how to scope wind, hail, flood, fire damage just from sitting in a classroom and listening to an instructor talk AT you? Don't you want to actually get up there on a roof and DO the work yourself? Don't you want to understand policy interpretation and depreciation - so you understand what is coverable and what the values are?

And don't you want to know what it actually takes to become successful as a Claims Adjuster? Not just how to write a Claim from A to Z, but how to find work in this industry and what it's actually like working in the field including storm situations?

That is why you don't want a crash course. That's why you want a thorough and comprehensive training program like Catastrophe Adjuster Training Institute offers. You want to know that you're going to be able to get listed with adjusting agencies, that you're going to actually get claim assignments from them and that when called to duty you're going to be able to successfully write, finish and submit your claims and get paid fairly for your time and work.

Don't waste your money on a crash course. Do your research. Talk to adjusters. Call adjusting agencies and even insurance carriers to find out what type of training you REALLY need to fully understand the claims process and to be eligible to get work. Contact CATI today at 888.987.9272 to discuss our phenomenal live class options and schedules. We don't just train adjusters. We prepare them for success.

 

April 29, 2016


 

Did you know that Catastrophe Adjuster Training Institute has been teaching claims adjusters since 2005?

With eleven years of claims instruction we have had a birds-eye perspective on the overall US Claims Industry.

We have partnered with Independent Adjusting Agencies to help grow their rosters and their claims management abilities.

We have partnered with major insurance carriers to provide instruction support to their staff adjusters and we continue to do so.

We have watched this industry evolve from the aftermath of the 2004-2005 Hurricane Seasons, through the 2011 Spring Wind/Hail/Tornado Season, to 2016 where Day Claims are driving most claim opportunities.

We are proud to be recognized for our top-rated and thorough training program for new adjusters.

We know that you want to be prepared when you walk out and meet with your first claimant as an Adjuster. We are committed to continuing as an Industry-leading training facility and continuing education center.

We regularly attend Claims Conferences and Industry conventions, such as the 2016 PLRB Convention this week in San Antonio, Texas.

Our classes are amongst the strongest available to help prepare you to write claims and to have a successful career in the claims industry. Whether we are dealing with storms like the recent Houston flooding or tropical storms like Hurricanes Ike, Lee and Sandy, or a smaller pocket storm for hail, or an individual home fire - the adjuster who shows up to write those claims must be licensed, properly trained and prepared to meet the requirements and demands of the insurance company they are representing.

When you - or someone you know - needs the best training, make sure to refer them to CATI. Eleven years of claims training experience and growing! Happy Earth Day everyone!

April 22, 2016


 

Well, we have had a helluva El Nino season haven't we??

We blogged last fall about the then-impending (Godzilla) El Nino versus the Pacific Blob. The forecast was correct: El Nino won out, sweeping much of the blob out of the way and making its way across the US. The good news: there has been some improvement in the drought conditions in the West. The not-so-good news of course is that it lead to a very eary wind/hail season (hello - tornadoes in Texas at Christmastime?).

The forecast was that we would continue in this super El Nino pattern for the next year or so. This meant that the claims industry braced itself for a severe spring and a milder late summer and fall tropical season. We certainly have seen some wild hail storms this past week alone, backing up those forecasts.

But then suddenly today we learn that La Nina, that crazy counterpart to El Nino, might decide to show up a little early! According to Reuters today, the Climate Prediction Center (CPC) is now forecasting an earlier end to El Nino and an ushering in of a La Nina season beginning later this year.

With El Nino still in (very) full effect this will likely not have any impact upon our wind/hail season. Watch for it to continue to play out with strong windstorms, hail and even cyclonic activity through the end of June. But now with La Nina preparing for her entrance, we might just see some tropical activity this fall after all.

Stay tuned, weather junkies!!

April 14, 2016


 

This is the 6th and final in our blog series about the issues of Adjuster Licensing and Certification...

So, you have your adjuster license(s) and you've been trained on the fundamentals of claims (Scoping, Xactimate) and you are trying to secure work as a claims adjuster.

You begin calling around to some of the Independent Adjusting firms and you find out that some of them have additional requirements.

Some of those additional requirements might be in the form of higher education certification. Those will fall into two categories: advanced adjuster training and certification, and client certifications.

When you work as an Independent Adjuster, you will register with adjusting firms to secure that work. Those companies will have clients - insurance carriers - that they work with on a contractual basis. Some of those carriers will require that adjusters that work claims on their behalf are certified with them.

Additionally, while the prelicensing, scoping & software training you registered for to start your training will provide you with the basic foundation of writing claims, there is also some advanced training you may wish to get to make yourself more marketable.

This will include Xactimate certification, Rope & Harness training and NFIP certification.

When you complete a comprehensive Xactimate course (like the 5-day class offered by Catastrophe Adjuster Training Institute) you will learn fully how to prepare claims using the Xactimate software system. But you can also get an official certificate from Xactware, the manufacturer of the software. It isn't something that most agencies will require of you to join their team, but it may benefit you and give you an edge over other adjusters.

Rope & Harness training will prepare you for scoping damages on steep-pitched roofs, including church roofs. This would definitely be an advantage to any adjuster looking for more confidence when working with roofs as well as being a competitive advantage.

Lastly, the NFIP certification (NFIP stands for the "National Flood Insurance Program") is a specific certificate that allows a Claim Adjuster to write for flood claims. An adjuster must have 2 years of working experience before they can get their NFIP certificate. However, this too would be a smart choice to increase the opportunities of working in a field that can sometimes feel like "feast or famine".

We hope that our 6-part series on "Licensing and Certification" has answered many of  your questions about the process of getting started as a Field Claims Adjuster. We welcome your questions - please call us at 888.987.9272 if you or someone  you know needs to get Licensed as an Adjuster. Thank you!

April 6, 2016


 

So, we've talked about the different types of adjuster licenses. And we've explained the process of obtaining your license including some of the differences between live and web-based or self-study training.

Now, let's talk about the states and reciprocity.

Of the 50 US States, 40 currently (2016) require that you obtain a valid adjuster license prior to working claims. You would think that the states that don't require licenses would be those states that don't get much in terms of catastrophic weather but surprisingly many of the Midwestern tornado-prone states (like Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska) are among the states that do not require an adjuster license.

Every person seeking to work as an adjuster should always start by calling their home state's Department of Insurance to verify their licensing requirements.

Once you obtain an adjuster license, it is now legal for you to work claims in that particular state. Of course, getting an adjuster license is only part of the overall training you will need to work claims (getting your license does not actually teach you how to assess damages or prepare claims).

But many adjusters, particularly Independent Adjusters, will need to work in a host of states in order to capitalize upon the work available. How does that work?

That's where reciprocity comes into play. Some state licenses require very comprehensive training and exams prior to application and those licenses will often then be reciprocated to other states.

Texas, for instance. The Texas All-Lines adjuster license is actually reciprocal to approximately 30 additional states. That means if you obtain a Texas adjuster license first, you will be able to apply for many additional state licenses across the country. You won't have to complete any further prelicensing training or state exams, in those situations. This is the reason that most adjusters - regardless of where they reside - will often start by obtaining their Texas Adjuster License first.

Of course, your home state will always be the ultimate authority on what license you must start with so, again, always call your home Department of Insurance to verify your requirements. But ask them "what state licenses do you reciprocate"?

In our next blog post we will talk about some of the advanced certifications available to Claim Adjusters.


 

So, you've made the decision to become a Claims Adjuster.

You contacted your state's Department of Insurance to verify your adjuster license requirements.

They've told you that you need to complete a 40-hour prelicensing course and a state-certified exam.

So - how do you find the right course for you?

There may be a choice between taking a live class and taking a web-based or self-study course. I would recommend that you strongly consider the live class. For anyone other than a candidate who already has a background in insurance policy, prelicensing is a challenging program. You are not being trained, during any prelicensing class, in how to do the actual work. Instead you are being trained on what the state will require that  you be tested on. That will include a lot of state laws and statutes, as well as general insurance terms and concepts.

You must complete the 40 hours of prelicensing before you can sit for your exam and you must pass your exam at 70% or higher in order to pass.

In order to ensure that you not waste time or money, a live class will always offer the opportunity at a higher success rate. In part this is because you have the chance to ask questions in class when the instructor is covering material that you don't understand or need further clarification of.

Catastrophe Adjuster Training Institute has a 99.9% pass ratio in our live Texas All-Lines Prelicensing course. If you don't pass the exam, we'll just schedule a time for you to sit down one evening with one of our instructors to retake the test.

There are no opportunities to ask questions during web-based or self-study prelicensing. Some of those training programs may have as low as a 50% overall pass ratio.

We know you want to be successful in this industry. That's why we recommend live training.

In the next blog we're going to discuss the issue of state license reciprocity. What does it really mean?

March 24, 2016

 


 

This is part of our ongoing blog series dealing with the issues of Licensing & Certification.

So, you've determined that you need to get your adjuster license. What are the next steps?

Every state has different licensing and different licensing requirements. The first step then is to check with your state to verify what is required.

Some states have just a P&C (Property & Casualty) license. Others have an All-Lines or Multi-Lines license. Other states do not require a license at all (most of these tend to be states right in the center of the country, like Kansas and Nebraska).

If your state does require a license, they will usually also have a prelicensing requirement.

Prelicensing means that before you can apply for your state license, there are fulfillments that must be completed first.

Most states require a 40-hour prelicensing course and a state-certified exam.

"Prelicensing" means that the course is geared to the exam. The exam then tests you on what you learned during Prelicensing.

It's important to understand what you will be trained and tested on. Prelicensing will not test you on how to actually write and prepare claims. Instead, you will learn what the state wants you to be tested on. This will include some fundamentals of claims but it will also include a lot of material like state laws and statutes.

The good news is that once you pass your exam, most of the material will not be needed once in the field.

Once you have passed your prelicensing course, you should be able to take your state exam. Once you pass the exam you'll be able to apply for your state license.

Each state will have its own application process which will include a fee (varies from state to state), fingerprints (taken through your local police department) and an application form. Forms are usually downloadable from your states Department of Insurance website.

Each state will have a process to review and approve your application and then  your license can be mailed to your address on file.

So, your first step is to contact your state's Department of Insurance to verify your home state license requirements. The second step is to locate a class for your prelicensing and exam.

In the next blog we'll go further into the issue of Prelicensing courses and review the merits of live versus web-based or self-study training.

 

March 16, 2016


 

In our previous blog, we talked about the requirements of getting an adjuster license.

In this blog, we'll talk a little bit about the differences between some of the license.

First, of the 50 states, 40 of them currently require a license. They tend to be the states that see most significant storm damage although many of the Midwestern states do not require a license even though they include states that see a lot of windstorms and tornadoes. I would always recommend calling the Department of Insurance in your home state to verify your license requirements to see if your state is on that list.

Some of the states that require a license will reciprocate other state licenses. It's why you often hear of people starting with a Texas or Florida Adjuster license. We'll get into those issues in a later blog however...

Some states simply require a "P&C" license. P&C stands for "Property & Casualty". Other states have what is known as an "All-Lines" license, which will include Property, Casualty, Liability and Workers' Comp. The states that have an All-Lines License is a more comprehensive license and that's often why they are reciprocal to so many additional states. The "Property" part of that license actually licenses for all types of property: residential, commercial, auto and RV, inland marine, crop adjusting - you name it.

If your state has an All-Lines license that doesn't mean you have to do adjusting work for Casualty, for Liability, etc. It's just part of what you'll be tested on for your prelicensing.

Additionally, some states will license independent adjusters differently than staff adjusters. The license itself is virtually the same, but those states will want you to obtain the license that best fits the needs of the work that you'll be doing. In Florida, for instance, an Independent Adjusters License is called a "520" license and a staff adjusters is called a "620".

In our next blog we'll talk more about the requirements to obtain an adjuster license.

March 3, 2015

 


 

This is the first of several blogs dealing with the issues of Licensing and Certification.

Adjusters - whether they be Staff or Independent Adjusters - have a host of requirements that they must meet in order to market themselves for Claim assignments. Essentially, it boils down to getting Licensed, Certified and Trained to meet the requirements that the states, the adjusting agencies and insurance companies require.

We'll talk later about the practical parts of the training, which Catastrophe Adjuster Training Institute provides.

For now, let's focus on the Licensing. What does Licensing mean?

Of the 50 U.S. states, 40 require an adjuster license. This would apply to both Staff and Independent Adjusters.

If a state requires a license to work as an adjuster, they will also likely require prelicensing and an exam

That means that in order to apply for an adjuster license in those states, a candidate must first complete a qualified prelicensing course and pass the state-certified exam.

A Prelicensing course is defined as a course that trains to the exam. That means that while the material included in any Adjuster prelicensing course will certainly have relevance to the industry and provide key information that will help a new adjuster learn more about the work they will be doing, the focus is simply on prepping for the exam itself. That means that aside from some information, much of the prelicensing material may be forgotten as soon as the exam is passed.

A state certified exam should be included with any prelicensing course as it meets 50% of the prelicensing requirement to apply for a license.

Most states require that a candidate score 70% or higher on their prelicensing exam in order to qualify to apply for the license.

The advantage of a LIVE prelicensing course (like CATI offers) is that - again - this material is presented simply to prep you to pass the exam. It does not specifically instruct you on how to work as a claims adjuster. The bulk of the license is going to cover information like state laws and statutes for the insurance industry. The material, therefore, can be a bit DRY. Might even say boring! The benefit of a LIVE class is that your instructor can restate the material, simplify it, answer questions - all in order to help each student better understand and retain the information.

This means that a LIVE prelicensing class will naturally have a much higher pass ratio than web- or book-based study materials. This is particularly important for candidates who are brand new to the adjusting industry. You want to raise your hand and ask questions.

Catastrophe Adjuster Training Institute has a 99.9% pass ratio for our live Texas All-Lines Adjuster License. If you do not pass your exam, we will schedule a time on a subsequent evening for you to sit down again with your instructor and retake your exam. The only reason we don't have a 100% pass ratio is that we've had a very small number of students fail their exam and then neglect to reschedule their retake.

In the next blog post we'll cover the differences between the All-Lines and the P&C licenses...

February 22, 2016

 

 

 


 

I had a conversation this morning with an adjuster, who had been chatting with me since last fall about our adjuster training program. He was intially interested in auto claims but switched his interest to residential property claims and we created a complete program for his needs. Our last contact a month ago, he said he wanted me to contact him in February and when I called him this morning, he declined our classes.

He told me that he had been put on the roster of an Independent Adjusting Agency and that they told him he had to take two of their classes. One of which was an Auto Claims class. I'm not sure what the other class was but both were 1-day classes.

I asked if prelicensing was included and he said no. I asked if this company was giving him a guarantee of work and he said no. He told me that he was on the roster but that he couldn't deploy with them until he completed those 2 classes.

All of this got me to thinking about what adjusters are being told before they make commitments to any adjusting agency and any training program.

Do they understand that the requirements to be on a roster are there to ensure their own liability as well as the IA firms?

Do they know that adjusting agencies will not put anyone in the field - regardless of training - unless they can pass assessment and accurately prepare a claim?

Do they realize that most states will require a license?

And do they understand that the "ladder holder" positions, where new adjusters would mentor with experienced adjusters, have been eradicated?

There are many excellent training programs for adjusters, ours included. And there are dozens of adjusting agencies, providing great opportunities in the field to adjusters. And there are companies that do both training and adjusting.

But every new adjuster should be provided with a few pieces of information before they begin this process.

They must understand that Independent Claims Adjusting is self-employment.

They must understand that they are responsible for all of their expenses, including the costs to be licensed and trained.

They need to know that no one adjusting agency will provide them with enough work to keep them busy during a standard season. They must register with at least 5-6 agencies just to keep steady.

And do the other training programs explain to adjusters the requirements to get started? You must have 3 things to market yourself as an Independent Claims Adjuster: You must be licensed. You must receive practical claims training including hands-on experience and you must be trained and certified on the Xactimate software system.

Catastrophe Adjuster Training Institute is proud to offer a stellar and comprehensive training program. With a 99.9% pass ratio, we know that our students receive an exceptional education to launch their claims career. We know that our instructors present clear and concise information designed to fully prepare a new adjuster to work in this field. We know that our facility is state-of-the art, with full-scale mock-up structures simulating everything from wind and hail, to flood and fire damage. We know that students walk out of class armed with every tool and resource and with a clear understanding of the steps they must further take to secure the quantity and quality of work they desire.

And we also know that in our  National Enrollment Center, our Education Specialists are of the highest professionalism and absolutely impeccable with their word. It is our responsibility and our pleasure to explain exactly what CATI's classes offer and what each student must have to get started. I first joined this team in 2006 and, a decade later, I'm proud and honored to work with a company that puts exceptionalism at the forefront of everything that we do. And I've personally put friends into this program. I believe in what we do - 100%.

 

 

 


 

As Director of Enrollment for Catastrophe Adjuster Training Institute I see a lot of trends in class enrollments. I've been with this company since July of 2006. The day I started, I was handed a stack of papers about two feet tall. Each one of those papers had the contact info of someone who was frantic to get into adjuster training. This was, after all, in the aftermath of the 2004-2005 Tropical Storm seasons and everyone was suddenly interested in this field.

This extremely high demand continued for nearly a year and then only slightly slowed the following summer. By the late summer of 2008, enrollment had peaked once again. This was during Hurricane Ike, in the Houston area. Myself and our six other enrollment specialists could have worked 24 hours a day during August, September and October of 2008, doing nothing but answering calls from individuals who needed to register RIGHT NOW for class. By mid-September we were scheduling people for our December and January classes.

Today, we are dealing with an industry that has seen a proportionate cycling of adjusters coming into the industry. It is not the industry that I entered, nine years ago. Nor is it the recession era, when people still wanted to become adjusters but were not able to afford training. Today, the new adjuster career training industry, has evolved. Most of the (ahem!) "Dog-and-Pony-Show" training programs (the 6-7 day, minimal, classroom-only programs) have gone by the wayside and the strongest training programs are the thorough programs, the intensive and extensive development centers, those that were developed to truly help adjuster BE SUCCESSFUL in the field - those, like Catastrophe Adjuster Training Institute, are still standing and still thriving.

There were times when most of my applicants were people who had actually had a claim during one of the major storms eight, ten years ago and it piqued their interest. There were times when people impacted during the recession - realtors, bankers - seemed to have the most interest. And of course, there are always going to be those coming from the building trades or with prior insurance experience, that want to become adjusters. And those are individuals that often prove to be a very good fit, as adjusters.

But one trend I often see, and wanted to write about, is the trend of people getting interested in this field when the storms are hitting. It's understandable - you may have filed a claim or know someone who does or, heck, just see all the damage on the Weather Channel and you think - that's what I should be doing! But it's important to note that when a storm is happening, if you're not already licensed and trained, you won't be working that storm - or possibly even the next.

If you are looking to become an adjuster, without any prior experience or training, it will take 3 weeks to complete your Adjuster Training program with Catastrophe Adjuster Training Institute. During that time, you will complete our Prelicensing class and the exam. At that time, you'll be able to begin the process of applying for your state license. But it takes the state approximately 3-8 weeks normally to process that application and longer if there has been an influx of new applicants, which is likely to happen during a peak storm season. That means that you are waiting, several weeks after your classes are completed, for you to receive your license. That also means that you are waiting for that license before you can begin marketing yourself for claim assignments.

Annual storm seasons are March 1st to June 30th, for Wind/Hail season and June 1st to November 30th for Tropical Season. March and April, however seem to be the most active time for windstorms and tornadoes. June and July are most active for Hail Storms. August and September are most active for tropical storms and hurricanes.

So, if you want to work this coming season as a claims adjuster, when is the best time to take your training?

That answer is "Right Now". You want to work Wind/Hail? Make sure you are trained and your license available by March 1st. Want to work the Tropical Season? You'll need to be fully ready by June 1st.

It's easy to see how storm activity creates huge interest for people to get trained as a Claims Adjuster. But it's also important to know that you can't work the next storm until you have completed your licensing and practical training ahead of that storm.

Don't wait. We don't know what the biggest claim events will be in 2016. But we know that you don't want to miss out on whatever it might be.

January 15, 2016

 


 

Well, we find ourselves at the end of another year, another storm season. We want to wish everyone a very Happy New Year! May 2016 find each of you achieving more success, more happiness and more fulfillment in your personal and professional lives.

Catastrophe Adjuster Training Institute has now been teaching new and seasoned adjusters for well over a decade. We have certainly seen changes in our industry, including the education side of claims adjusting. We are very proud of all that we have accomplished in the past ten years and extremely excited about what lies ahead.

Once again, CATI is partnering with US Adjusting Services for their upcoming 2016 Adjuster Conference. This 3-day conference is jam-packed with certifications (including California Earthquake), advanced training and new technologies for licensed, experienced adjusters and offers 20 hours of continuing education credits. If you are a licensed adjuster looked to catch up on CE credits and want to meet one of the best adjusting firms in the industry, it's not too late register for the Conference. You can find the conference listed in our course offerings.

One of the biggest changes we have seen in the past two years is the evolution from storm-chasing to day-claims as the primary income source for Independent Adjusters. When we launched our Xactimate and Adjusting 101 courses in 2005, the insurance claims industry was in the grip of the two most devastating and costly Tropical Storm seasons in US History. Everything had to shift, to focus on rebuilding efforts along our Gulf Coast areas.

Today, at the end of 2015, we are able to look back over the past ten years and see the changes that have impacted our industry. Storms came (Hurricanes Ike, Lee, Sandy...) and storms went (the historic tornado season of 2011) but today storms are not what is driving the independent adjusting industry. Most successful adjusters have refocused on working day claims. Small, pocket storms. Home fires. Freeze claims and vandalism. This has been the bread and butter of our strongest adjusters. It is valuable to see how our industry expands, shifts, grows and accomodates the changes that we cannot control.

Another huge change to our industry is the emerging new technologies that are allowing adjusters to work faster and more productively in the field. We will be dedicating several upcoming blog posts to some of these new technologies, including the use of drones and aerial pics for imaging.

Stay tuned here at Catastrophe Adjuster Training Institute as we head into 2016! We couldn't be prouder - and more excited!

December 29, 2015

 

 


 

We're often asked the question "Who makes a good adjuster?"

There are many answers to that question. People with experience in the building trades. Individuals with prior experience in the claims industry. Roofers and folks working in restoration. But while some comparable knowledge is very beneficial, there's a bigger answer to this question...

The best adjusters are those who will make themselves the most marketable.

How can you make yourself more marketable as an Adjuster? By getting the best training. By calling every agency possible for roster placement. By gaining advanced certifications and specialties, to give yourself the edge over other adjusters. And by accepting every possible assignment and doing the very best work in the field, of course.

But in order to accept assignments - wherever and whenever they occur - adjusters need to have a system in place that allows them to do that. For those adjusters who have a family, it's making sure that your spouse has everything they need while you are deployed.

But there are adjusting teams who work together. Fathers and sons, good friends, etc. One of the best teams we see can be the Husband & Wife team. And specifically, the husband and wife team that travels together by RV.

The Recreational Vehicle / Camper / Travel Trailer life is certainly a unique one, but a lifestyle that we are seeing growing each year. With the costs of home ownership on the rise, many people are opting to free themselves and make a life on the road. Even if it's just part-time, more and more people are enjoying the open road in their RV's. This includes folks on the cusp of retirement.

But what to do when you need to supplement your income source? Have you thought about finding seasonal work to offset your expenses? What if you can do it all from your RV and with your spouse?

Independent Adjusting can be a great way to utilize your freedom and your resources. You can travel from site to site during storm season, right there in your RV. One spouse can be climbing the roof and assessing the physical damage. Another spouse can focus on the administrative responsibilities, including writing the claim on the software system. The amazing thing is that both things can literally be completed at the same, exact time!

Claims Adjusting is a lucrative field, and one that is growing by the season. If you are already on the road, why not make use of your RV and pick up a couple storms during the season. It still leaves you free to enjoy your travel and spend the holidays with family - all while earning a great income!

November 23, 2015


 

What type of adjuster are YOU looking to become?

Here at CATI, we often have prospective students call us and ask what type of adjuster they should become. It is important to note that there are many types of adjusters and Catastrophe Adjuster Training Institute does offer a variety of training programs that may help launch your new insurance claims career.

There are essentially three types of adjusters: Staff Adjusters, Independent Adjusters and Public Adjusters.

Staff Adjusters and Independent Adjusters both do the same type of work. They prepare claims for property that has been damaged, on behalf of the company that insures that property. This can include all types of property including structural (residential or commercial) property, Automobiles, Recreational Vehicles and more. Any and every type of insurable property has the potential to be damaged and therefore require an insurance claim. Marines, churches, heavy equipment, crops and farm animals. If property has value and is insured, there is someone out there specializing in those types of claims.

What differentiates a Staff Adjuster and an Independent Adjuster is HOW they are employed.

Staff Adjusters are full-time employees of an insurance company. They work exclusively for that one company, full-time. They are usually paid an annual salary including benefits and they are assigned a specific territory. That means that any claims that come into that territory, insured by that insurance company, may be the responsibility of that Staff Adjuster.

Independent Adjusters are self-employed. They can work on behalf of many different insurance companies. They register with Independent Adjusting Agencies, who act as the middle-man between the Insurance Companies and the Independent Adjusters. In the past, Independent Adjusters were called exclusively in the aftermath of a Catastrophic Storm situation. These storms would create an excess of claims within a specific territory, beyond the capabilities of the team assigned to that territory and then the insurance carriers would call an independent adjusting agency to request additional adjusters to help cover that event. Independent Adjusters were known as "Cat-Adjusters" or "Storm Chasers" for that reason. They would travel around the country as needed, handling storm claims.

Today, with the cost of benefits rising, more and more insurance companies are electing to cut back their Staff Adjusters to a skeleton crew and deploy Independent Adjusters for much more than just storms. Any damage now can be assigned more cost-efficiently to an Independent. This includes freeze claims, fire, vandalism and smaller wind/hail storms.

The trend in today's Insurance Industry is certainly that of Independent Adjusting.

Public Adjusters are a little different than Staff and Independent Adjusters. In most circumstances, a Public Adjuster is not preparing the initial claim estimate. A Public Adjuster is an advocate, working on behalf of the Claimant, in order to negotiate with their insurance carrier. Any time that a Claimant feels that a secondary estimate may be needed, or requires a skillful negotiator to help them get the highest value for their damaged property, they may solicit the services of a Public Adjuster.

Catastrophe Adjuster Training Institute is proud to be able to facilitate the education for Staff Adjusters, Independent Adjusters and Public Adjusters. We offer licensing and practical training to Staff Adjusters and Independents, and Public Adjusters will also greatly benefit from our practical training including our Property 101 and Xactimate Software certification classes.

There is no end to where your Adjusting Career can go. Your successful Career begins with Catastrophe Adjuster Training Institute.

 

November 9, 2015


 

Catastrophe Adjuster Training Institute (and our parent company, Hamilton Catastrophe Claims) have now been teaching courses for adjusters for eleven years.

This is a significant amount of time and much has changed. We thought this would be a good moment to look back and reflect upon these past eleven years in the independent adjusting industry.

The summers of 2004 and 2005 changed everything in the insurance claims industry. Obviously the US experienced unprecedented back-to-back tropical seasons the likes of which had never been seen before, and not since.

2004: Fifteen storms - nine of which became hurricanes. Ten of those storms impacted the US directly. 3270 people were killed. And Hurricane Ivan, the costliest storm of the 2004 Hurricane Season and the 5th costliest hurricane in American history, was the 10th strongest hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean and created the largest ocean wave ever recorded.

2005: Twenty-seven tropical storms including fifteen hurricanes. These included, of course, Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma. The 2005 Hurricane season resulted in 3913 deaths and more than $159 billion in damages. Four hurricanes reached Category 5 strength.

In the immediate aftermath of these two storm seasons, the independent claims industry grew faster than ever before. The need for qualified adjusters was great and the interest in this lucrative field began to explode.

Many new independent adjusting agencies were incorporated during this time, and new training facilities began to crop up. And over the next five years the nation saw a huge amount of interest in independent insurance adjusting as a viable new career path, particularly during the economic crisis that saw many jobs eliminated.

Today, more than a decade past the historic tropical storm seasons of 2004-2005 and seven years after the recession of 2008 - where is independent adjusting today?

Independent insurance adjusting is still a highly lucrative and in-demand career, however most successful claims adjusters are focusing on day claims in the void of significant storms. Storms may be highly profitable, but there is a level of trust and professionalism that declined during the peak of the intense storm years. Once again we are seeing a concentration on quality, on sustainability in the field and on dedication to the skills required.

Catastrophe Adjuster Training Institute has been proud to be a leader in the insurance claims training industry. From prelicensing and hands-on adjusting training, to Xactimate certification, continuing education and advanced certification including Rope & Harness, Auto/RV and California Earthquake. It remains our intention to provide the most comprehensive and affordable training options - just as we have done for well over a decade.

Dated October 14, 2015


 

Godzilla vs. The BLOB!

Sounds like a great horror flick, doesn't it?

Actually both "Godzilla" and "The Blob" are weather systems currently in place in the Pacific Ocean. Sometime in late 2015, they will converge together. What does this mean for weather in the US and for the insurance claims industry?

First, we may be familiar with the term "El Nino". This is the warm-weather season of high moisture originating near the Equator that we experience every few years. El Nino tends to produce wetter storm seasons along the Western US coastline while maintaining warmer temperatures and lower snowfalls in the Northeast and Midwest. El Nino is also characterized by a decrease in Atlantic hurricanes. This is the opposite of La Nina, which has the reverse effect upon the nation's weather including the higher likelihood of tropical storms in the Atlantic.

But Fall 2015 is marked not just by the emergence of an El Nino system forming in the Pacific but a Godzilla El Nino!

What on Earth is a Godzilla El Nino??! Well, it's an El Nino system that will be stronger and longer-lasting than normal. The coming Godzilla El Nino will not only last well into Spring 2016 but is also forecast to be the strongest El Nino since 1998.

Does this mean good news for drought-stricken California?

Well, that's where The Blob comes in. The Blob is actually THREE BLOBS or high-pressure systems that are sitting, stagnant, in the northeastern Pacific Ocean. These blobs are largely responsible for the drought across the Western US these last several years. They also have generated much warmer temperatures across the Pacific and increasing typhonic activity for the Far East and Pacific Rim regions. But the jet stream is about to push those lazy blobs south, right into the path of Godzilla.

And so, even though we are looking at a stronger-than-normal El Nino (the fearsome Godzilla), the big X Factor is: what will happen when Godzilla meets The Blob?!!

Will the two supervillains battle it out across the Pacific Ocean, sending thunderbolts down from the skies and causing the seas to boil? Hardly. The easy answer is this: only one system can be victorious. Godzilla El Nino will begin to converge with The Blob somewhere around November 2015. Both systems will fight for supremacy throughout the winter but one will strengthen and one will weaken as a result.

Who will win? Our money is on Godzilla. After all, in the movies, Godzilla was always rooting for humanity and we think this clash of storms will be The Blob's defeat (and a cessation to the drought). But it will also mean warmer temperatures in the Northeast and across the Midwest. This means a lower chance at the kind of record snowstorms like Boston experienced last winter but a higher likelihood of wind/tornado activity in the spring. The heartland of the country is probably going to require good adjusters in time for wind/hail season starting March 1st.

So folks, let's get the popcorn going and turn on the weather forecasts - Godzilla vs. The BLOB is coming up!

Dated Friday, October 2, 2015

 

 


 

The modern insurance world is characterized by change. Insurers are developing new products to address risks that we never could have imagined a decade ago. Technology is enabling insurance organizations of all sizes to better service accounts, settle claims, and reach new customers. These advancements can add up to knowledge gaps for claims professionals, who require a firm grounding in both claims handling and the technical knowledge of their product lines.

Claims is a complicated field that demands a breadth and depth of insurance and product specialty knowledge. There is no way a claims professional can learn everything they need to strictly through on-the-job experience.

That makes continuing education a must for claims professionals looking to advance their careers and for insurance organizations looking to develop and retain the best employees. More knowledgeable claims professionals mean lower expenses, fewer reinspections, more accurate estimates and indemnity payments, and quicker, better claims resolution.

Why We Need Continuing Education

In the claims department, training is not just for new hires. One-time training during the onboarding process is insufficient since, in many ways, the field is always in development. Compliance regulations change often, and regular education on these issues can help claims professionals stay up to date.

But the constant pace of change doesn’t only apply to regulations. Vendors and customers increasingly have high expectations for the breadth of a claims professional’s knowledge and product competency. Given the advancement of various estimating platforms and the need to control loss adjustment expenses, claims professionals must become highly skilled in scoping, estimating, and investigating. This helps claims professionals achieve both excellent customer service and payment accuracy.

At the same time, there are more parties involved in a claim today than ever before. It is increasingly common to see a public adjuster representing the insured in a claim, not to mention rental agents, contractors, agents, and other specialized vendors that are now getting involved in the claims process. Additionally, third-party vendors are more insurance savvy and knowledgeable about policy coverages and claims-handling processes than ever before.

All of this means that training can have a significant, positive impact on customer satisfaction. Customers appreciate claims professionals who demonstrate high product competency, which is something they gain through continuing education. The more a claims professional can answer a policyholder’s questions directly and promptly, the higher the customer’s satisfaction. On the other hand, once a policyholder thinks a claims professional is in some way incompetent, they lose confidence in the insurance organization they represent.

In specialty lines, training is particularly important. For example, with a product such as motorcycle insurance, the policyholder needs a claims professional who can speak his language. Claims professionals must know current models and the latest technological developments. This lends credibility to the claims professional, both with the customer and with the shop repairing the bike. Expertise helps claims professionals negotiate effectively with contractors, resulting in better estimates and fair indemnity payments. And expertise is not a stagnant state; it is constantly developing through continuing education.

In the insurance industry, training and retention are crucial for specialty areas. We often have heard that there are not enough new claims professionals to replace retiring baby boomers, most often in the area of liability claims professionals. But this is also true of property claims handling—and that is where we are in danger of losing valuable, specialized skills. In addition, the millennials who are training to take boomers’ places expect ongoing training and appreciate a culture of constant improvement and education.

Though mobile technology and other electronic forms of communication provide great convenience for customers, they also leave room for misinterpretation. With more options available, it can be more difficult to keep track of insureds’ communication preferences. Training can help account for the ramifications of emerging technology on the insurance industry’s customer base.

 

Excerpt from The Importance of Continuing Education by David McNutt & Mary Wright originally published by Claims Management 


 

5 Steps for Keeping the Claims Coming: How to Make Your Claims Manager Happy

Excerpt from article by Brent Lanier originally published by Independent Insurance Claims Adjuster

 

As a Claims Manager I see many different claims every day. On a day to day basis I see every array of claim you can imagine from the simple hail claim to One Million dollar commercial losses. All these claims have one thing in common, detail. Many new adjusters fail in this category almost every single time.

Most new adjusters do not understand the importance of going into detail with photos, reports, receipts, etc. If you, are like most new adjusters, you really have not had a lot of training on how things should be done. There are many different training options out there and some are better than others.

Here are 5 items that will make the Claims Manager want all claims sent to you.

1.    Ahead of Schedule – When you are a new adjuster the best thing you can do is turn your work in quickly. It is ok if you make mistakes, because the file is not late. As long as you can get the errors fixed and turned around quickly the claims manager will be ok with that. Just because you have 7 days to turn in the claim does not mean you need to take all that time. The first thing they look at when rating adjusters is time lines! If you are always late or turning yours in on the 7th day every time, then you will eventually get moved lower on the list because someone is doing it faster and better. I would much rather have a new adjuster that needs a little help that turns their claims in early than a pro that is always late!

2.    Following Guidelines – Most firms will provide you with guidelines for the specific carrier you are working for and guidelines on how the claim should be formatted. I have found that many new adjusters do not read the guidelines given and turn in a product based on what they think should be there. There is nothing more frustrating than returning a claim for corrections than the claim where estimate is perfect, but the adjuster did not format the billing, loss report, etc correctly. You must read the guidelines you are given. If you do not get them, call and ask how they want it. Get it right the first time.

3.    Photos – As a new adjuster you should be taking too many photos. Until you learn exactly what they want you should have photos of everything. Many new adjusters have to make second trips out to losses on their own dime because they did not take enough photos. Again, you should receive guidelines from the firm on how they want it. If not, you need to speak with the claims manger before you go to make sure you get what is needed. This is the most common mistake for new adjusters.  Your photos must tell the story. One good rule is, if you have enough photos then you would not even need a report to explain the estimate.

4.    Detailed Reports – Every firm and carrier has a specific loss report or narrative they want to accompany the claim. These reports must explain everything in detail so there are no questions. This is very common with new adjusters. The reports are extremely important from what time and who you inspected the loss with to there being any potential for subrogation. That report must be able to stand in a court of law.

5.    Willingness To Learn – You may have 10 years experience or 2 months experience, but if you do not want to learn, it does not help. Some carriers and some firms are very particular with how they want things done. If you are not willing to learn “their way” then you will be out the door quickly. Just recently I had to let go an adjuster that had been with us for over 3 years, because he wanted to change the way things are done. If you have an idea to improve something then it is ok to ask or make a suggestion, but do not just make changes to the way you do it and expect a Claims Manger to be happy with it. Most of the time the claims managers hand are tied because the carrier wants it that way. It may not be the most efficient way of doing it, but it this case it is the only way!

 

 


 

You are probably aware coffee shops or bookstores offer free WiFi, but where else can you get connected when you are out in the field.  Using your phone as a hotspot can be very costly when your data usage is exceeded.  Your alternative can be to find open and free WiFi sources.

When using open WiFi, protect the privacy and securtity of your computer. You can install a Virtual Private Network (VPN) in your wireless options on your laptop-some at little or no cost.  Many sites list free spots by geolocation on your phone.  OpenWiFiSpots, WiFimapper.com, and the WeFi app have comprehensive directories updated by a growing community of users.  Easy to use, interactive mapping allows you to find free WiFi hotspots in any area throughout the United States, Canada and Europe.

Being connected in the field doesn't have to mean astronomical cellular data usage if you install one of the many free apps available on both Android and iOS platforms.


 

Hail To Pay

Property claims resulting from hail damage have been on the rise.  According to Verisk's Property Hail Claims in The United States 2000-2013 report, there were $54 billion in claims for hail losses.  The last 6 years of that period account for nearly 70 percent of those losses.  The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported that, in 2014 alone, the U.S. experienced 5,536 major hailstorms. During a single week in May 2014, storms caused $2.9 million in insured losses, according from Impact Forecasting.  That severe thunderstorm outbreak was the costliest insured loss event of the year in the U.S.

According to a report from Xactware, hail damage estimates increased by more than 15 percent from 2013 to 2014.  Risk Management Solutions (RMS) found that the average size of a residential claim from severe thunderstorms increased by 9 percent each year from 1998 to 2012. Part of this increase can be attributed to hail hitting areas that do not typically experience hailstorms.

States with the highest hail risk are Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas and Wyoming, according to NOAA.  However, over the past several years, there have been an increasing number of claims in the Southeast, including Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina.

Given this severe thunderstorm claims climate, the U.S. will need more claims professionals who are skilled in recognizing and evaluating hail damage to private and commercial properties...and evaluating these claims fairly and accurately.

excerpt from Hail To Pay by Bob Crowley and J.D. Satterfield 

 


 

A catastrophe can come in many forms; i.e. blizzards, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, earthquakes, and hail to name a few.  Minor damage to total devestation is left in their wake and a structure surviving the event does not necessarily  make it safe for use.  Your training is vital to make assessments that are accurate, clear and concise.  To make an educated well informed decision, after being mobilized to the scene, becomes not only what determines your effectiveness and reliabilty as an adjuster, but also how those affected by the storm are able to move forward.  Following incidents of mass destruction, determination of habitability becomes an issue to make sure hygenically sound environments are restored.  With all these varying factors, we are striving to develop new training methods and modules that directly mirror the enviornments you will encounter as an adjuster.  


 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, most insurance adjusters work for health insurance companies or in areas that experience the highest levels of natural disasters. As an adjuster, you can expect to investigate claims by collecting data related to a claim or interviewing those with first-hand knowledge related to claims. During this process, you'll also work with experts who evaluate the damage or authenticity of claims, such as doctors, accountants or engineers. If an insurance claim involves litigation, you may be expected to testify about an individual, insurability or how you arrived at a conclusion to pay or deny a claim.


 

There aren't any standard requirements to enter this career field.  Although you can become an insurance adjuster after you earn a high school diploma, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that those with a degree will enjoy the most career opportunities (www.bls.gov).  The BLS also states that employers are beginning to seek candidates with vocational or insurance experience.  From a November 2010 sampling of open job postings from Monster.com, experience in construction and auto mechanics or repair were preferred as well.


 

I have personally met with the insured, explained insurance policy, clarified coverages, inspected claimed damages, determined the subrogation possibilities, hand wrote the repair estimate, and issued payment drafts.  Yet, I was told,  the most important aspect of all claims handling was 'human relations.'

Training focused on customer service and the claims adjusters' association with people... in other words, the application of human behavior. If we understood human behavior, we gain insight on motivation and establish rapport with the insured, which in turn...helps in settling the claim.

Today, the customer service department contacts the insured and schedules the appointment for the appraiser. The claim is assigned to a desk adjuster, which in turn waits for the appraiser to submit the repair estimate. The appraiser, either an independent adjuster or direct repair contractor, meets with the insured and cannot discuss coverage issues or make a payment to the insured. The appraiser submits the repair estimate to the file examiner. The file examiner returns the repair estimate to the appraiser with the recommended revisions and upon approval, submits the final repair estimate to the insurance company.

In the meantime, a portion of the claim is assigned to the contents unit for review and processing. The desk adjuster reviews and approves the repair estimate and contacts the insured with information on what and how to get paid for the claim. A partial payment is usually made to the insured for the actual cash value of the claim.

Upon completion of the repairs, the remainder of the payment for the claim is issued. Upon final payment, the desk adjuster will transfer the claim to the subrogation department for review.

This process supposedly streamlines the claims workflow, improves underwriting profit, and promotes expense management. Today, training focuses on laptop navigation, property estimatics software, electronic claim files, claim management systems, consumer protection timelines, and strict policy interpretation.

What has happened to customer service?

Has our industry fallen so far that the only factors to claims handling are expense management and limiting indemnity?

The answer is "no". Even though it appears the only true 'constant' is 'change,' one element of claims handling will always be a 'constant'...Customer Service. Without true customer service, no claim will be final.

A customer service oriented adjuster can satisfactorily settle a claim with a not-so-perfect repair estimate, while a poor customer service oriented adjuster will not be able to settle or finalize a claim with perfect or accurate repair estimates.

Why is this?

While displaying consideration, building rapport, and obtaining the insured's confidence, a claim can almost always be settled with a positive result. Without these traits, a claim will remain open and ultimately cost the insurer more money, since time is money. You can't always measure the cost of a claim by the indemnity payment.

The feature story in a recent claims magazine highlighted 'poor, disjointed claim handling' as a blemish on an insurer's reputation...specifically 'poor service.' The reasons for poor service are diverse, but one of the main reasons seems to be that the insurers sometimes unwisely prioritize cost savings over customer service when making process and technology decisions. It goes on to mention that some insurers don't appreciate the human dimension of claims and its centrality to the mission of any insurance enterprise. Whatever the true intentions of the insurer, dissatisfied customers are likely to come to the conclusion that the insurer doesn't really care about the individual's experience and is thus more focused on receiving premiums than properly executing on claims. Customers who feel they have been betrayed are not likely to keep quiet about it.

With today's focus on claim modernization, how can the insurance industry blend customer service back into the mix? Fortunately, improving claims performance (modernization and customer service) is becoming a high priority for most insurers and independent adjusting firms (IA) servicing the insurers. Forward thinking firms are implementing modern web-based claim systems to support claims processes that offer both greater efficiency and more thorough, timely, and consistent claim service. IA firms now have the capability to communicate and connect directly with the insurer to seamlessly coordinate their administration and billing systems.

So, it is possible to have high technology and modernization as well as superior customer service. When we consider technology and processes with the customer in mind and with a goal of making them whole in a timely manner, then we can begin to see the real potential of modern technologies.

When responding to a customer in need, specifically in a catastrophe situation, insurers and IA firms can't just respond, but they must be thoroughly prepared. By organizing claims, administration, and invoicing, today's firms can better prepare policyholders in advance by notifying field adjusters that are standing by and being on site as early as possible. Most catastrophes (70%) are predictable, weather-related events that can be monitored and tracked.

When an insurer's claims system tracks potential catastrophic storms, the insurer has the capability to warn and advise policyholders that are in the storm track via email and social networking tools such as Twitter and Facebook to take shelter, turn off utilities, or remove pets from the house, thus exhibiting better customer service. One IA firm, mandates all roster applicants to complete and pass a four part Assessment Test, just to be considered a candidate for catastrophic deployment. The first of their four-part exam covers customer service. They state if the candidate does not pass the customer service portion of the Assessment, they are not allowed to take the remainder of the exam. Now that is a true focus on customer service.

By implementing today's technology with yesterday's focus on human relations, the insurance claims industry is turning the corner on improving and excelling in customer service. As stated, if there is a 'constant' in handling insurance claims, it's customer service.


 

Need to be trained as an adjuster, but taking time out for training difficult with your schedule?

The only part of your training that CAN be done online is your prelicensing. Online prelicensing courses are effective, saving both time and money. However, web-based training is completely self-study with no printed materials. Not everyone can learn in this environment. The value of live, instructor-led training is undeniable. When an instructor knows the art of training and how to engage students, live classroom training seems to offer the most "bang" for your training buck. Practical training must be done live.

In today's world, with the litigation issues of recent years, you cannot learn how to effectively write claims, work storms and set up your business as an adjuster by taking web-based practical training.

Here's a quick breakdown of the basic types of online training.

Web "Book" Courses with text information for learning courseware instead of a printed book. The web pages contain explanatory material, step-by-step instructions, and screenshots. Interactive learning uses audio, video, and clickable elements, as well as on-screen quizzes.

Webinars, which often consist of a shared group environment online for chat, audio, video, and whiteboard. These can be participated in live when they are run or they are watched as recordings after the live event.

Interactive Direct Learning, or IDLs, offer a comprehensive learning program that often incorporates all of the above methods. (Many IDLs can be purchased for a group as opposed to individuals)

So, which is better?

Classroom training for prelicensing appears to still be the most effective because of the live, dynamic interactions between the students and the instructor. Except for live webinars, this interaction does not exist in any of the other online training methods mentioned above.

However, there is a solution that offers the best of both worlds. Keep in mind that one size does not fit all. It depends on your needs.

Generally, live classroom training is better for beginners or students who are below-average in their computer and internet skills. For intermediate and advanced students, online learning such as can be found in an IDL is extremely cost and time-effective.

For advanced technical classes, the sophistication of the questions and discussions needed to learn point to remote classroom instruction as the best method.

So, the choice is yours.


 

In the world of insurance claims handling, specifically catastrophe or disaster claims handling, being prepared is the alpha of the profession. As a marathon runner must dedicate themselves to discipline, such as putting in the miles, obtaining the proper equipment, showing up on time and keeping focused while in the ultimate race, so must a catastrophe claims adjuster. Statistically, 8 of 10 deployed catastrophe adjusters do not make it to their 2nd pay period due to being unprepared.

This article will inform the novice claims adjuster and re-inform/assure the experienced claims adjuster on how to be adequately prepared. Deployment: Deployment procedures will differ from one company to another. There are, however, basic deployment procedures that should be considered as soon as the potential for deployment should arise. The most common method of contact for deployment is a telephone call from an authorized representative at the independent adjusting firm. The representative will contact you with deployment instructions upon notification from the insurance carrier.

Typically, you are expected to report to the Orientation Site within 48 hours of notification if you accept the assignment. Orientation will familiarize you with specific insurance company information and instructions.

Prior to leaving for Orientation, make sure personal arrangements for the following are completed: 

  • Home 
  • Mail 
  • Pets 
  • Medication 
  • Lodging 

Emergency Contacts Orientation: Upon deployment you will be given instructions on where and when you should report. Once you have arrived, the insurance carrier may provide a 1 to 2 day Orientation. The location of the Orientation may or may not be at the storm site.

The Carrier Orientation will cover and explain the following:

  • Claims Handling Process 
  • Policy and Procedures 
  • Local Practices 
  • On-site Training
  • Location of Assignment

Introductions of Management At the Orientation, you may receive certain material such as:

  • Manuals outlining pertinent processes
  • Procedures
  • Contact Information
  • Claim Handling Information
  • CD/software supplying all information supplied in the manual 
  • Carrier ID Badge
  • Car Magnets
  • Shirts/Caps
  • Emergency Response Identification
  • Drafts (if applicable)

Lodging: As soon as you receive notification of deployment, it is critical to secure lodging at the Orientation site and long-term lodging at your final destination. Immediately following a major catastrophe, hotels may be full or non-operational. This may require a need to lodge outside the immediate area. You will need to determine the most convenient location nearest to the area you are assigned. Make your reservations for the longest period of time possible and guarantee with a credit card. Inquire about high speed internet service as this is a necessity for claims operations. Advise the hotel you are Emergency Response Personnel.

Supplies You Will Need: 

General:

  • Cash
  • Credit Cards
  • Cellular Phone
  • Global Positioning System (GPS)
  • Water and Non-perishable foods
  • Fix-A-Flat
  • Cooler

Computer and Electronic Equipment:

  • Laptop Computer
  • Wireless Card or System
  • Printer/Scanner/Fax/Copier
  • Digital Camera
  • Power Inverter

General Office Supplies:

  • Calculator
  • Stapler/Paper Clips
  • Day Planner
  • Clipboard
  • Writing Utensils
  • File Boxes/Folders

Tools:

  • Ladder
  • Flashlight
  • Bungee Cord
  • Tape Measure
  • Pitch Gauge
  • Compass
  • Putty Knife
  • Chalk
  • First Aid Kit
  • Climbing Shoes
  • Tool Belt
  • Insect Repellent

Note: Your laptop must be pre-loaded with:

  1. Estimatics Software
  2. PDF Software
  3. Camera and Printer Software
  4. GPS

 

Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. -Coach Darrel Royal


 
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