What Auto Claim Adjuster’s Need to Know About Harvey
Unless you have been hiding under a rock, you know that this last week Hurricane Harvey hit Texas and caused massive flooding, wind damage, and wreaked havoc to Texans, particularly Houston.
Harvey is being called the largest flood event in U.S. history. It is projected to have over 500,000 vehicles damaged in Houston alone. To put this in perspective Hurricane Sandy had 500,000 autos damaged, Harvey is expected to exceed super storm Sandy’s devastation in auto claims. This is a 1000 year flood event according to some.
What does this mean for you as an auto claims adjuster?
There will be work for you – I have heard many numbers and projections of how many adjusters will be dispatched to the staging areas, but none more shocking than 1100 independent adjusters working as State Farm Total Loss personnel, all in one building.
I know many inexperienced, non-licensed people who are being deployed as adjusters. This is an all hands-on deck event. Don’t feel you are late to the party, come on in! Many companies still are looking for assistance.
Expect work for months, not weeks as an auto adjuster. Most of the solid field adjusters will be working 3 months, with other possibilities popping up. It is very likely for you to connect and work with multiple companies stringing together a longer deployment.
Some will work longer, but the majority should not expect to work longer than 3 months.
You must be patient. We need to wait until the water recedes and cleanup has started. Once that occurs then we must wait for insureds to start finding their vehicles and filing claims. Speaking with different firms and carriers, the delay in deployments and getting adjusting boots on the ground is strategic to ensure work can be accomplished once the adjuster arrives.
Insurance companies will total cars over the phone. This was practiced when I was deployed for Allstate during Hurricane Sandy. For nearly a week I sat in my hotel calling insureds and totaling cars, site unseen. This triage will be utilized by the bigger insurance companies during this catastrophe to expedited insureds being taken care of.
Many adjusters get nervous, worrying that here will no be enough claims to produce work. Yes, this will dip into the amount of cars that IA’s will process, but with other possible catastrophe’s right around the corner, the concern is always to get the insureds taken care of. There isn’t enough time and adjusters to properly process each car with a physical touch.
Some Things You May Want to Do
Get your shots. Houston will be a mess. There will be a high probability of being exposed to germs and things that most of us never think about. Going to your doctor and getting shots may be a really good idea. You may find yourself climbing over debris, fitting into tight spaces, and moving obstacles that could potentially cut or wound you.
Have a plan of action for the large amount of work you will be processing. Depending on which company you are working for, work is dispatched in a variety of ways, but knowing how to process that work and being organized is crucial to you having a successful storm.
If you are dispatched in bulk, hundreds of claims at one time, I suggest taking two days to get organized and to call every single insured. Start leaving messages, setting future appointments, and tracking down vehicles. This will get the ball rolling on a lot of claims and allow you to keep scheduling inspections day after day.
You may be dispatched just a handful of claims per day. If this is the case I suggest you make it a practice to call each insured ASAP. Try to set up the following day to be full of appointments and make sure you status your portal accordingly.
Utilize Badger Mapping for organizing your claims into a solid plan of action with their route optimization. Save time and earn more money by keeping all your contacts in their app, call the insured directly out of the app, and always know if you are near another claim.
Rent your hotel for at least two weeks. Nothng is worse than wondering if you have a place to stay at night. During hurricane Sandy adjusters were forced to sleep in cars during an intense winter storm. Plan ahead and schedule a hotel for at least two weeks, if you are assured you will be there longer go ahead and book longer. Hotels will become harder to find as cleanup crews, adjusters, and construction companies come into tow and in the surrounding areas.
Use Priceline, Hotwire, Hotel.com etc. to find available hotels fast and easy.
Keep track of your inspection notes. When inspecting flood losses you are contracted to do 4 major things,
· Take photos of the vehicle
· Determine the water line (how high the water got)
· Get options of the vehicle for processing a total loss
· Write and estimate and start the total loss process
To make the on-site inspection easier I created a one-page Auto Flood Template. It includes the basic vehicle and owner information, total loss options, vehicle condition, flood levels, and water type all in an easy to use one-page form.
If you are going to write flood claims this is a great way to document what you see during your inspection. Take a photo of the completed form and upload it to your Dropbox or Google Drive to ensure that you don’t lose it!.
Go and be safe,