First Deployment: What an Eye-opener!

This is the story of our first deployment and what we learned from Hurricane Sandy. Nothing can fully prepare you for that first storm, but Mile High Adjusters did a great job of giving us the survival tools we needed to succeed.

Our new career path as adjusters started in the spring of 2012, when we found ourselves the victims of the economic downturn. After searching for something my partner, Margaret, and I could do together, we attended the Mile High Adjusters information seminar and were quickly sold on the idea of becoming insurance adjusters. We decided to enroll in the licensing course. What a great decision! Mile High Adjusters provided an excellent foundation for our new career. We got our licenses, attended the Mile High Boot Camp and took additional Xactimate courses. Throughout the summer, we kept hoping for deployment to utilize our new training, but nothing happened. We used the downtime to obtain additional licenses, pass Levels I & II Xactimate tests, and spent three days in Louisiana getting our State Farm Certifications.

In the late fall of 2012, we had resigned ourselves to waiting until spring storm season for our first deployment. No one imagined a hurricane would set its sights on the East Coast in late October. We were on the golf course when we got the call from Worley Catastophe Response telling us to report to Knoxville, TN in two days. Hurricane Sandy was wreaking havoc in New York.

We packed the truck full of our new adjuster tools using the list Mile High Adjusters had given us in Boot Camp. When we drove into the Sheraton parking lot in Knoxville, it looked like there was a roofing or ladder convention going on. Dozens of trucks and campers were there, outfitted with shiny new ladders. Because Hurricane Sandy had knocked out much of the services in the Northeast, and hundreds of adjusters were on their way to the area already, the new adjusters sat in Knoxville for 8 days waiting for futher deployment orders to come. The insurance companies were having trouble getting all the adjusters outfitted and trained. While we waited, we attended State Farm training classes and watched as other adjusters were deployed. While we were anxious to be deployed, it was a blessing to be housed in a comfortable hotel. The adjusters who went immediately to the East Coast were actually stuck in their hotel rooms and not able to do any work.

On the eighth day, there were only about 30 of us out of the original 250 who had not been deployed. We were discouraged. Worley had to close up shop in Knoxville and finally told us we would be going to be team leads even though we had no experience. Worley told us that because we were so well prepared, we would be able to handle the team lead roles. We were excited, but extremely apprehensive.

Upon our arrival in New Jersey, we met other adjusters that had come from all over the country. As team leads, we were assigned eight adjusters each. Our job was to teach the Liberty Mutual Xactimate system and ride with them on their site inspections. The first thing we noticed was that many of the adjusters were not prepared. This included not having the right tools or training for the job. They were unfamiliar with Xactimate, didn't know what sketch was, and could not understand the process. Many adjusters came with ladders shorter than 24' and were unable to get on the tall roofs of the Northeast. This lack of training made our jobs very difficult. We were trying to teach adjusters the workings of Xactimate and were also helping them figure out their claims at the same time. Many adjusters actually quit and just walked away because they had no idea what to do. We were certainly grateful for the excellent training we received at Mile High Adjusters.

When the claims slowed down at Liberty Mutual, we were transferred to State Farm Insurance in Parsippany, NJ for two days of training with the State Farm ECS computer system. We were then assigned to the Melville, NY State Farm office as a 2-story/steep team.

The most difficult aspect of working the storm was finding lodging. Due to the size of the storm and displacement of residents, lodging was at a premium. Adjusters were finding it very hard to locate rooms and were actually trying to fit six or more people in rooms to sleep. Some adjusters were driving over 150-200 miles each day between their hotels and their claims. This made it very frustrating for many as the days wore on. Lodging was also expensive as hotels increased the prices due to the demand. We became very proficient with using the, and many other websites. We found it was best to call them directly to find short term rentals that way. We just didn't know how long we would be there. We were finally able to rent an apartment in Queens for the month of December.

The majority of our claims were in Brooklyn with some scattered in Staten Island. Even though Queens is adjacent to Brooklyn, we allowed to 1-1 1/2 hours in travel time to reach our claims. As a 2-story steep team, our job was to inspect the high and steep roofs referred to us by the original adjuster. We carried 24' and 32' ladders on our truck. The majority of the time we needed the 32' ladder to gain access to these roofs. Often the houses were so close together, it was almost impossible to get the necessary distance for the safe ladder placement.

Within a week after our deployment, the Govenor of New York put a deadline of December 6th for all insurance companies to have at least have made initial inspections with the insured. State Farm alone had over 108,000 claims from the storm, and we estimated there were over 500,000 total claims. There were hundreds of adjusters in the State Farm offices scrambling to meet the deadline. It was intense.

Initally, we were inspecting three to four roofs each day. It was difficult to do more because of the traffic and time required to get from one claim to another. Once the deadline passed, it became easier to schedule the inspections further apart. We were even able to jump on the subway and take in a Broadway show one night. Our job included inspecting the roofs, preparing the claims, researching prior claims so that the insured were not paid twice for the same damage, and completing estimates started by the original adjuster. As Christmas came closer, we sensed that the claims were winding down. We were released on December 21st and were able to spend the holidays with our families and friends.

In closing, we were most thankful for the training we received at Mile High Adjusters. We were glad we spent the extra time to take the post-licensing courses they offered. The class that preppared us most for our first deployment was the 7-day Boot Camp. It is a realistic representation of actual deployment. The insurance companies are under the gun and legally obligated to quickly respond to claims. We received about 20 claims to start with, and were under a great deal of pressure to perform. Every adjuster needs to be ready to operate the computer, be knowledgeable in Xactimate, make phone calls, schedule, inspect, write the claim and close in a timely basis. The insurance companies are under scrutiny to make sure that it happens and the insured expect it. It's not as easy as many think, and it's hard work. Despite the first deployment being stressful, we actually had a great experience in New York. We can't wait for the next storm. Our parting advice - keep learning, be prepared, and be flexible.

- Robert W.

February's Tech Tip

The 21st Century is the age of technology. Every time I turn around there is something newer, better, smarter and it's supposed to make my life more manageable and simple. I'm sure you can relate! The claims industry is on-boarding new solutions just as frequently to assist inusurance carriers with fraud prevention and process improvements. However, I find it difficult if not impossible to find solutions for adjusters that are going to educate us on enhancing our workflow and process management. The fact of the matter is that this is equally significant. The more comprehensive and fluid the adjuster, the less number of times a claim will need to be touched - in most cases.

Keep in mind adjusters, technology can be as much a tool as it can be a hindrance! Take the time to figure out your ITQ - Technology IQ. What slows you down when it comes to your technology? What makes you comfortable? Which tools make you more efficient? Can you consolidate your technology? More is not necessarily better! Here is an inside look from the Mile High Adjusters' Senior Adjuster and Instructor, Marshall Barrington.

The new Symbility has been programmed with the iPad in mind. Xactimate has applications designed for iPhone and iPad. The newest version of Xactimate is supposed to have enhanced applications for the iPad. The question is: Do you need to add an iPad to your adjusting gear?

Kind of early to tell. I'm in the wait-and-see mode for now. However, that is definitely the way things are moving. The new windows is based off the iPad OS. Google is coming out with their version of an iPad. The new computers are now coming with touch screens. Where does the madness stop? There is going to be a big shake out in all these devices over the course of the next several years. How can all these devices make it in the competive market place? More importantly, how do you choose the best solution for your workflow style?

The industry will see a considerable transition in the next four to six years. One of these platforms will emerge as the leader in this winner-takes-all battle. Will Apple still dominate without Steve Jobs? How much of a threat is Google? Microsoft seems to be floundering as the later comer. Whoever wins in the end, make sure you're converting to the technology choice(s) that will increase your proficiency, not hinder it.

What's an adjuster to do? WAIT! Where ever this ends us, it will take a few more years to get there. Technnology and versions will likely change a few times until then. Everybody appears intent on moving to the iPad. Sounds cool. Photos, estimates, sketch all at once on the fly with one device. Sexy! Spock and McCoy investigating a strange new alien planet! But, then I remember all the times I've dropped things off the roof... chalk, pitch gauge, clipboard, camera... baking in the heat, talking to a roofer, drawing my test square: Am I going to be able to hang on to my iPad while scoping a roof?  What happens to all my other claims for that day if it slides down the slope, bounces off the gutter and lands gracefully in the back swimming pool?

Maybe I can duct tape it to my leg...

-- Marshall B.

Write My Scope!

Are you spending more time at the computer than scoping your claims? How about you adjust and we write? Would this allow you the time to pick up at least two more appointments per day or sleep a little longer at night? The Mile High Adjusters Team is offering you the ability to free up more time, produce professional and accurate scopes, and increase your income. By submitting your scoping criteria to our team of expert, licensed adjusters, we complete your scope portion of your estimate and return it to you within a day allowing you to manage your time more efficiently. For many adjusters, it may mean that their 16 hour day is relieved to a manageable eight-to-ten hour day. Other adjusters will use this time to schedule a few more appointments, assess more damages and complete the less technical estimates.

The process is easy. Contact Mile High Adjusters to have the submission requirements emailed to you. Once you receive the requirements, you will organize your folders in the specified way and email to the MHA Team. Once we receive your information, you will receive a receipt confirmation, your information is reviewed and processed, the scope is produced and returned to you the next day!

If you find more value in scoping more and writing less, contact us today and let us Write Your Scope!

Texas Department of Insurance Licensing

The Texas Department of Insurance has issued changes regarding the requirements to obtain the Texas All-lines license. These changes are in effect and are outlined in the Texas Insurance Code for your review in Section 4.A and 4.B.

In summary, if you are residing in a state that requires a resident adjusting license, after you receive your pre-license certificate for the Texas All-lines license, you are required to obtain your resident state's adjusting license. After you have successfully completed the exam for your resident state's license, you will mail the pre-license certificate along with all required information to receive your physical copy of the Texas All-lines license.

If you reside in a non-licensing state, this change does not affect you. You will reserve the ability to test for the designated home state Texas All-lines license.

If you would like additional information, please visit the Texas Department of Insurance website.

Storm Chasing is Dream Achieving

In researching insurance adjusting and exploring if it's going to be the right fit for you, there are a few things that you should consider. What kind of adjuster are you interested in pursuing and what do you want your lifestyle to look like? In determining which type of adjuster you would like to become, think about life goals that you've been wanting to achieve - travel, financial goals, work/life balance, work structure and overall effort.

The most sought after insurance adjusting positon is the independent adjuster. Independent adjusting allows a flexible schedule, high income yield, travel, and a fair amount of time off to enjoy spending with friends and family. In the past 20 years, trained insurance adjusters are not entering into the profession as much as they were.

As a storm chasing staffing firm for independent adjusters, I can tell you there remains a heavy demand in the industry. When Hurricane Sandy devastated the east coast, it drained the adjuster pool quickly. In many cases, companies were providing emergency training for adjusting licenses to ensure that the overwhelming amount of claims needs could be handled in a timely fashion.

Is the demand for adjusters dwindling? In the past 5 years storms and natural disasters have continued to wreak havoc and are showing no signs of slowing. 2010 was the third most active Atlantic hurricane season tying with 1887, 1995, 2011 and 2012. In 2011, 19 storms, 7 hurricanes and 4 major hurricanes swept across the United States. The grand finale of 2012 was Hurricane Sandy. Before Hurricane Sandy left her trail of devastation, there were 19 storms and 10 hurricanes - and Sandy being the 1 major hurricane. As we move into 2013, it is predicted that approximately 15.4 named storms, 7.7 hurricanes and 3.4 major hurricanes will be suffered.

This is the time to get serious if you are investigating a career transition. Perform your due diligence now in the slow season and don't put off your licensing training until the last minute. As an independent insurance adjuster, you need to receive appropriate training on insurance code, policy and procedure, estimating software and understand proper scoping techniques. Obtaining the license can be achieved in an 8-day period, but there is a little more you might need to accomplish to get you equipped to adjust with the big boys! Obtain your license now, in the slow season, and employ the upcoming hail and winter season to get your feet wet because when the Atlantic hurricane season is set in motion, it's "GO TIME"!

If you are a mid-level to experienced adjuster, look into obtaining PTC Certifications that will significantly enhance your technical knowledge of commercial and residential property claims. Knowlege is power we all know, but it's also your financial guru!

2013 is sneaking around the corner. Employ yourself to be the best you can be and give yourself permission to fulfill your dreams.

Myth vs. Reality

Insurance adjusting to most people that are being introduced to the claims industry for the first time struggle with the fact that becoming a licensed insurance adjuster can afford them a lifestyle that they have only dreamed about. The first question I hear nine times out of ten is, "If it's so easy and lucrative, why isn't everyone doing it?" The truth of the matter is, it's not made for everybody! Independent insurance adjusting is built for people that are looking to transfer their trade skills into a new career, who want to determine thier own work/life balance, and have the ambition and drive to be a success.

Within all professions, hardwork, dedication and continuing education are key. At Mile High Adjusters, we are the stepping stone for individuals to make a seamless transition into a new career. Our motto is reinvent you, not the wheel. In the past few months alone, we've licensed, mentored and deployed adjusters into catastrophic events such as Hurricane Isaac and Sandy and have been pleased to hear back about the success that everyone is experiencing. Over the span of the past 5 years, it has been a gift to be able to continue the bridging of knowledge to a new career and lifestyle for so many people. 

If you are in the midst of making that crucial decision to jump, take a few minutes to hear from our graduates. If you are in the area, stop by our training academy to discuss the opportunities that insurance adjusting holds for you!





Effective Adjusting: Communication

There are principal habits that make us excel professionally, socially and seemingly come in 7's. Though these versions all vary, their fundamental idea is universal. When it comes to adjusting, the 7 highly effective habits are: Communication, Time Management, Computer Proficiency, Integrity, Insurance Policy Knowledge and Applications, Contruction and Engineerying Knowledge, and Innovation and the Will to Succeed. These habits are equally significant in our world, but we'll begin with communication.

As a claims adjuster, it's imperative that you possess, or spend time developing, resilient communication skills. Claims professionals are usually the singualr point of contact between the insured and the insurer. When working in the field, you will excperience a variety of emotions from the insured - distraught to muddled, and at times skeptical. An emphasis on your communication style and approach, including body language, is a top priority. It sets the stage.

You will not know what to expect from the insured until the first point of contact. An informal and effective way to begin exploring the best communication style for the situation is taking the time to listen and engage the insured during this initial contact. When scheduling the meeting with the insured, this conversation will allow you to ask questions about the severity of the damages they've experienced, listen to their tone of voice to detect their state of mine, and open a space for you to set the tone for the meeting. For instance, if the insured is emotionally overwhelmed, slightly slow and soften your tone of voice to create a patient, yet cordial and professional communication platform which will automatically calm and soothe them. It's incredible the impact our tone of voice has over the phone or in person.

Customer service is always be at the forefront of how we conduct business and represent our employers, and adjusting is no different. Observe, be sympathetic to the situation and always be professional!

Property Technical Certification: The New Standard

Introducing a new level of training at Mile High Adjusters: Property Technical Certification I and II! PTC is an assessment-based technical certificate program for the property claims industry. PTC provides online coursework and training to learners to build technical knowledge, skills, and competencies; standardizing the knowledge required to properly estimate property claims. The PTC curriculum comprises over 100 hours of training across three programs: Core Property, Exterior Loss Adjusting and Interior Loss Adjusting.

All topics are presented within the context of real-life claim situations and include rich graphics, diagrams and performance files. Each module is presented in an auto-play, fully narrated format including periodic challenge quizzes. These challenges assist you in achieving the highest, most thorough level of understanding of each course study.

There is a certification exam administered in which each student must achieve 80% or higher on each module Mastery Exam to qualify for certification. Students may retake each exam multiple times to achieve a passing score.

The PTC programs are accredited for 30+ hours of Adjuster CE in the following 18 states: Alabama, Arkansas, California, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah and Wyoming.

The MHA Training Academy will begin offering classes the first week of November online! Please contact us today with questions and learn how to make yourself an indispensable claims professional in the industry. You will be able to purchases the Certificate Program or buy any of the comprehensive property courses such as Fire, Water and Windstorm Loss individually.

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