On my first deployment as an adjuster handling hurricane claims in Raleigh, NC, it very quickly became apparent which things were essential to success and which things weren’t.
Equipment in general and gadgets in particular, weren’t vital to my success. I didn’t have the latest and greatest laser tape measure. I only had one, modestly sized fold-up ladder. Unlike some adjusters who towed a second home behind their tricked out dually pick-up, I drove a decade old Dodge Durango with pieces of pipe screwed to the top for a ladder rack.
My years of in-depth knowledge of construction really wasn’t my most essential tool. Did it help? Absolutely, and I feel I did a better job having it. But, truth be told, I would have been able to learn a sufficient amount about materials and building composition as I came across it in the field. Sure I made mistakes here and there, but they weren’t egregious, and I never make the same mistake twice. The learning curve was pretty manageable for me.
What was without a doubt, vitally essential, was mastering the estimating software appointed for use by the carrier I was representing – in this case, Xactimate. This is, in my opinion, the single greatest challenge to serious success for CAT adjusters. If you don’t know your Xactimate (or Symbility, PowerClaims, IntegriClaim, Simsol, etc.), and know it well, you will never realize your full earnings potential as a CAT adjuster, plain and simple. Thinking you can just learn on the fly during a real deployment is a recipe for firing yourself.
There are a couple of factors at work here. First, Xactimate is not an immediately intuitive program and the learning curve can be steep. There are just a couple of things I know and retain in my memory on the construction end. When policy questions come up, the only skill I really need is the ability to read. But understanding and truly knowing Xactimate requires very specialized knowledge and skill that my basic reading, writing, and arithmetic cannot deliver in and of themselves. Pure and simple, you need training, and you need training prior to deployment. Second, I think that mastering Xactimate does more towards increasing your efficiency in closing claims than any other single item. Why is that important to a CAT adjuster? Simply put, because closing claims quickly means more satisfied customers, more money, more claims, better claims, longer deployment, and finally rock-star status with the folks at the home office. Closing claims quickly and efficiently with minimal hand-holding out in the field is the name of the game as a CAT adjuster, and knowing your estimating software can be the difference between a $15,000 storm and a $30,000 storm...not to mention almost a guarantee on future deployments with that firm.