List of the necessities
Most of you are going to have to use your existing vehicle until you have the ability to get what you really need. Unless you have a small compact, you should be able to make your current vehicle work. Once you have been on a deployment, you will exactly what you need! Here are a few considerations if you have the ability to get a new vehicle before getting deployed. (1.) You will want something that is fuel efficient. (2.) You need a vehicle that can carry all your gear. (A mini-van with the back seats and bench removed gives you an enormous amount of storage space while also keeping your gear more secured and out of the rain.) (3.) Due to displaced homeowners, hotels will be full, so there will be occasions when you will actually have to sleep in your vehicle. (4.) Looking professional is also important, both to the homeowners and your fellow adjusters. Pick-up trucks are the unofficial vehicle in this industry. Keep in mind that disasters will bring out the worst in some people, so while a truck with all the options may give you a certain amount of status, it will also make you a target. You don’t want to attract attention.
One of the biggest determining factors on your income, is time management. Few things effect that more than having a GPS device. Not getting lost, not taking the wrong exit, not taking the shortest route and not wasting time looking up a street on a folding map will easily save you an hour a day. If you add that up over a month, the claims you could have worked would have paid for that GPS several times! And there are other positive advantages, like the savings on gas, being on time for your appointments and impressing the firm you are working for by working more claims.
Microsoft has a great program called “Streets and Trips.” You can utilize the data dump feature in Xactimate, and export the street address for your claims on any given day. Streets and Trips will then calculate logistically the best route to take to drive to your appointments as efficiently as possible. Price . . . $20 on Amazon
3. Laptop or Tablet
All insurance companies utilize estimating software, mainly Xactimate. You will calculate and write up all of your claims electronically.
Here are the Xactimate operating requirements for their latest version 27.3: Xactimate 27.3 requires at least a 1.5 GHz processor / Xactimate 27.3 works with Windows XP Service Pak 3, Windows Vista 32 & 64 bit, and Windows 7 32 & 64 bit. / Your computer should have 2 GB of RAM (2-4 GB or better is recommended). / Your computer needs at least 5 Gig of free hard drive space available.
Most of the claims you will work will have some sort of damage to the roof. Even if there is no damage, most insurance companies require a roof inspection. The ladder is the most used piece of adjuster gear you will have. There are three basic types of ladders used in the industry . . . Extensions, folding and telescoping. Whichever ladder you choose, it must be OSHA compliant.
Extension ladders are the first type that comes to mind when you think of a ladder. This type is used to reach high places and must be leaned against something sturdy.
These ladders get their names from their ability to fold up when not in use for easy storage. When completely closed, most folding ladders will fit in the trunk of a car. They are light weight and easy to use.
A telescoping ladder is a ladder that is able to slide in and out to adjust in size and does so by the use of overlapping sections. There are a large variety of telescoping ladders in the industry today, the most popular is the one made by Telesteps. Like many of the telescoping ladders available, the Telesteps ladder has the ability to fully extend into a useable extension ladder.
Keep in mind, most adjuster accidents involving ladders, happens when climbing off the roof! Since your life depends on ladders, don’t scrimp! This piece of adjuster gear should not be a cheap bargain brand.
All insurance companies require supportive photos to be downloaded onto the claim reports. Most claims will require 10 to 50 photos. You must be able to take close-ups and your camera must be able to compensate for poor lighting. Your photos will be reviewed, so their quality will reflect on your abilities. Make sure you have extra batteries or charging capabilities from your vehicle. (Many Smart Phones have cameras sufficient for this work.)
6. Tape Measure
Roofs: the longer the better – at least 25′ long. The FatMax by Stanley is an industry favorite. A rolling tape measure works great but some companies do not allow them.
Rooms: a laser works best, but with all new technologies some are slow in acceptance. Make sure the insurance company you are representing in a deployment allows lasers, otherwise the standard tape measure will have to be utilized. If you can afford these adjuster gear toys, get all three and just double check what is permitted on each deployment.
As adjuster gear goes, a customized tool belt will serve you well over your career. There are several great companies, but the one we are familiar with is CustomToolBelt (below $99)
The trend in new home construction in much of the country is steep and cut-up roofs. Looks great, but they are difficult, time consuming and dangerous for the adjuster. Thanks to the technology developed by Eagleview you can avoid the challenges of these roofs. Their aerial imagery gives you all of the relevant data required: number of squares, length of ridge, length of valleys, pitch, numerous photographs and all of it color coded in a professional presentation. Eagleview can save as much as an hour on those claims. In most cases they can have the report ready for you within 24 hours. Eagleview has four plans to fit your needs.
9. Cougar Paws
Unfortunately Eagleview only works when the roof is not obscured by trees. This means you will have to climb and measure steep roofs from time to time. Cougar Paws are specially designed shoes for adjusters that dramaticall improve footing. The soles are actually made of industrial Velcro. Cakked the “hook,” it allows a replaceable “Traction-Grip” pad to be attached to the sole. One side of the Replaceable Pad, called the “loop,” is made of felt type material. When attached to the “hook” it holds firmly. When the pad wears down, it can pe peeled off and replaced by a new one. There are multiple designs priced around $150. (This is essential adjuster gear!)
Duluth, Gempler’s and Korkers also make great roofing boots.
Accident avoidance is a priority that can not be governed by price. Be pro-active and project professionalism by doing everything you can to minimize accidents. An accident is not only costly to you, but also to the adjusting firm that has to scramble to get a replacement in a timely manner.
As a Texas Adjuster with an All Lines or Property & Casualty Adjuster License, you will be representing numerous agencies and working a wide variety of claims. You will be expected to dress appropriately. All Adjusting Companies have a dress code. Remember you are representing the Adjusting Company as well as the Insurance Company, so looking the part is an important component of the professionalism you project. Jeans are rarely allowed, typically khakis and polo type shirts are the standards. The exact dress code will be discussed at your adjuster training.
TAXES: As in any business there are expenses. Expenses getting started and on-going expenses. Don’t lose out on all the tax deductions! Get up to speed on business related deductions, and keep thorough records and all your receipts. (Your Adjuster License is also deductible!)
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