The Snowball Effect and How to Avoid Overwhelm as an Auto Damage Appraiser or Adjuster

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[/et_pb_image][et_pb_text _builder_version=”3.27.4″](this article is inspired by my interview with independent adjuster Jeremy Shaw AKA “Early Riser” on the Independent Adjuster Podcast. Listen to the interview after the article)


As independent auto damage appraisers and adjusters, we have to not only manage stressful situations and help out stressed out individuals, we must manage our own stress levels. It’s easy to find yourself white-knuckling the steering wheel or flinching every time the phone rings.  This can quickly lead to overwhelm as an auto damage appraiser.

The main reason I’ve found that we get so overwhelmed is that while we were doing our job we started to let small things go, forget this, forget that, delay this or delay that. When we start to do this it creates a “snowball effect” or crap rolling downhill. All those little tasks we delayed, forgot, or just didn’t do seems to catch up to us all at once. That is a moment of overwhelm as an auto damage appraiser.

So, how do we avoid it? How do we melt that snowball before it starts rolling? I’m going to offer 5 tips to avoid overwhelm as an auto damage appraiser.

5 Tips to Avoid Overwhelm as an Auto Damage Appraiser or Adjuster

Some of these tips may be harder for you to personally apply than others, it’s possible you need to come up with a few different things that I have listed, the point is to start thinking ahead about how we can avoid the overwhelm as appraisers or adjusters.

1. Wake Up Early

In my interview with Jeremy Shaw, he stated,

“I like to wake up an hour or two early, see the sun come up, drink a cup of coffee and make sure my day is organized. For me, it’s to step back and look at the work before it begins.”

I think our snowballs get bigger over time if we refuse to “step back and look at the work.” Many times in my life my work has seemed much more overwhelming that it really was. Take a step back, wake up early, write out was needs done so you can tackle that list!

You may enjoy staying up late, sleeping in, but that can quickly lead to overwhelm as an auto damage appraiser. This industry moves so fast and has so many deadlines that to stay ahead you literally need to be “ahead” of everyone by being up earlier than them.


2. Get Organized

As we step back and see the work, it may be impossible for you to really see what your “work” really is. If you don’t have a good system or process to stay organized you can quickly find yourself unsure what needs to be done next. Not only is that unproductive, but your brain starts to burn too many calories trying to figure out what needs to be done.

Our brains are wired for survival, if you work takes too much mental energy or calories a mental snowball starts to build. Our brain will decide that our work isn’t worth the calories it’s taking to accomplish. That feeling of, “I just want to lay down” isn’t a true sign of being tired, it’s your brain saying “work isn’t worth all these calories I’m SHUTTING DOWN!”

So how do we avoid that mental snowball? Have a system and process in place. If you are working for multiple companies, and you should be, you need to have a management system of some kind. A single place where all the files, supplement, and notes go.

This can be as simple as using a Google Drive or Windows-based folder system you put together, or you can get as slick and feature rich as something like Claimleader, but the point is to have a way to know what needs to be done. Your email inbox is NOT a proper way to decide.


3. Keep a Notebook

A small notebook and a pen in your pocket can be the difference between a great day and a snowball. When you get that call and someone says, “this file needs to get finished right now!”

You may or may not remember when you finish your inspection. This can cause frustration in other and for you overwhelm as an auto damage appraiser or adjuster.

Keep a small notebook and write down simple tasks that need to be done as they come up. Get a call, write it down, someone needs an estimate emailed over, write it down, and on and on.

You will also get bonus points for feeling like a detective, Columbo anyone? You can also do this digitally with apps like Trello, Evernote, or any list making app. Just keep track of those little tasks that accumulate to create your next snowball.


4. Communicate Through Status

One consistent problem I see and hear from appraisal companies and individual auto damage appraisers, is that there is too many phone calls. The phone is ringing off the hook and you can’t get anything done. There is a few simple things you can do as a status to your appraisal or insurance company you are working for to communicate with them properly and ease the number of phone calls.

  • Status file received

The moment you receive a new claim or supplement status, “file received.” This lets the company know you are aware of this file and you will take care of it. Now use your system and process to put this file into that workflow. With that one status, you will have 24hrs before anyone reaches out for a new status.

  • Status message left or appointment date

A big mistake we all are guilty of is not putting in our appointment date once it’s set. This gives off the illusion and feeling to the companies we are working for that we are lazy. Once you have an appointment set status when the appointment is. Even if you are busy and have to schedule out a few days putting, “Appointment set on Thursday 12/17 between 1-3pm per conversation with owner” will eliminate any phone calls on that file until that date and time.


5. Live Life

I’m guilty of this, but I forget many times to live life. I’m so busy working I forget to stop and smell the roses. We get overwhelmed as auto damage appraisers because life is all about work…… incorrect. We work to support the way we live our life, we shouldn’t live to work.

Take time to enjoy your family. Many times we are working at such a low capacity that our production isn’t worth the time we are putting in. Be strategic work when you are at your most productive. For me, its 5:30 am – 8 am is when I get things that must get done. (like this blog post)

I’m not productive past 8 pm so I’ll rarely be writing claims past 8 pm because I’m not being productive I’m just working. Take time with your family, take a walk in the morning, stop and eat lunch on the road NOT IN THE CAR!

It feels like we have no time because we scheduled our life to be too crazy. If you want to avoid overwhelm as an auto damage appraiser take control of your schedule and schedule in time to LIVE LIFE! It’s time we pick up that snowball and use it in a snowball fight versus being overwhelmed by it.


If you enjoyed this article check out the podcast interview that inspired it below. Hear the “Early Riser” Jeremy Shaw talk about the snowball effect and how it can overwhelm you.

Keep walking your path

Your Guide,

Chris Stanley
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