(This is a chapter from Chris Stanley’s Amazon Best Seller, Hail Adjuster’s Playbook, Get a copy on Kindle,)
When a hail storm happens in an area, many people are affected. Unlike traditional collision claims where two people are involved, there are potentially tens of thousands involved in a hail loss. The insurance companies have a flood of claims filed and calls coming in. The insurance company is staffed to handle their day to day operations and their staff resources are quickly exhausted when a hail event happens. As a result, the insurance company creates alliances with multiple organizations to help them process the thousands of claims.
Having an understanding of these relationships will help bring clarity to you as a hail adjuster. For you to truly become an A-list adjuster, you must wade through these relationships much in the same way an ambassador would wade through a multi-country international crisis. Each party has their own interests, needs, desires, and pain points.
As with any business, understanding the needs, offerings, and pain points of each party involved will give you the ability to offer A-list customer service to everyone, not just to one organization or person. Having empathy, or the ability to understand and share the feelings of each group, will allow you to prevent problems before they arise. This is your job as a catastrophic hail adjuster. It can be challenging, but it is rewarding.
When successfully navigated, those involved in these complicated relationships start to look to you as their liaison and trust point. They know that regardless of the other parties involved you are there to help them. By the end of a storm you may have multiple job offers to come work for different organizations, because they see the value you bring to a hail catastrophe.
Now, let’s review each of these separate groups of people. We will look at the offerings and needs that each bring to the situation. You will start to see why everyone has come together around the hail storm.
The owner of a vehicle that has been affected by the hail storm, also known as the insured, is the focus of each and every group involved. The owner has a pre-existing relationship with the insurance company. This relationship may have existed for months, years, or even decades before this hail storm.
When I worked on behalf of USAA Insurance, I had the pleasure of meeting military veterans who had been with their insurance company for 40 or even 50 years! The level of respect and trust the owner has for their insurance company after decades is quite remarkable.
We as Independent Adjusters, or IAs, are inserted into this relationship and we must keep in the forefront of our minds that we are representing the insurance company to the owner. I was wearing a USAA shirt as a subcontractor. The owner did not know I wasn’t a staff adjuster and I could have easily abused or violated the trust the insurance company and owner had built up over the last few decades.
Once an owner files a claim from the hail storm, the owner schedules an appointment at a catastrophe drive in located at a shop of choice provided by the insurance company. This is where your interactions with them will take place.
Owner Needs – Claim Processed and Vehicle Fixed
Owner Offerings – Vehicle for Repair
The insurance company is covering the damage claim that the owner has filed from the hail damage. Very similar to when you drop your phone and ask for a replacement, there are coverages and exclusions that may be involved. The coverages and exclusions involved are a part of the owner’s insurance policy, or contract with the insurance company.
Most owners do not view this simply as a contract, but truly as more of a relationship with their insurance company. Their insurance company is there to protect them and help restore them back to a pre-loss condition.
The insurance company is the largest and most influential of all parties involved. Ultimately, your paycheck is coming from the insurance company.
Ranging from well-known names that are familiar like USAA, Geico, Farmers, State Farm, and Allstate to smaller lesser known insurance companies, they all exist as an investment company. They make money by collecting premiums and in turn is in the business of servicing and paying on their insured’s claims.
When a hail catastrophe hits, the insurance companies involve multiple other parties to help them process the claims made by their insureds. The goal is to provide high quality and swift customer service to their insureds to continue to earn their trust and monthly premiums.
Insurance Needs – Appraisals
Insurances Offerings – Customers
The shop is where a cat drive in is located, and is usually a part of the insurance companies shop of choice program. This is known by many names, but most insurance companies have what we refer to as “Direct Repair Programs” or DRP’s.
The insurance company funnels their claims to the shops of choice to repair the owners’ vehicles. In return, the DRP shops offer discounts and even free appraisals in exchange for the volume of work the insurance company sends.
The DRP shops restore vehicles to pre-loss condition utilizing all the insurance and industry approved techniques. They have a long list of guidelines they must follow to properly repair a vehicle to the insurance company standards.
During a hail storm, the insurance company requests/demands to set up at their shop as an appointment hub, or drive-in location. Insureds can drive-in every half hour for appointments to get their vehicle inspected for hail damage and receive an estimate. We also refer to this drive-in as the CAT line or CAT drive-in.
The insurance company by this arrangement is sending their customers to the shop of choice for processing and resolution of their claim. The shop in turn has many vehicles that need repaired and are usually staffed to only accommodate the standard flow of business.
Shop Needs – Customers and Technicians
Shop Offerings – Vehicles
The insurance company, does a great job staffing to handle claims for their normal book of business, but encounters many challenges in handling and processing high volume of claims that result from a catastrophe event, like a hail storm. This is why the insurance companies turn to appraisal companies for support.
Appraisal companies are staffing agencies that develop relationships with insurance companies and with independent adjusters. When a major hail event happens the insurance company requests the number of adjusters that is needed to handle the cat drive in at a DRP shop or other selected location. The appraisal company finds competent and licensed adjusters who are available to come process the hail claims.
Most times the insurance company pays a set amount per day, per adjuster to the appraisal company, the appraisal company takes a percentage, in the range of thirty of forty percent, passing the rest of the pay to the adjuster/appraiser.
The appraisal companies are now starting to have relationships directly with shops or paintless dent repair companies versus only being hired directly by the insurance company.
Appraisal Company Needs – Customers
Appraisal Company Offerings – Appraisals
PDR companies, or paintless dent repair companies, specialize in fixing hail damaged vehicles. Utilizing a state of the art method of repair called PDR, or paintless dent repair, they are able to repair hail damage by massaging a dent from the backside of a panel. In cases where they cannot access the backside of a panel they can work on the dent by performing a glue pull to pull the dent up. I will discuss this in more detail later in the book.
PDR companies are staffing companies for these specialized technicians. PDR cuts the cost and time to repair a vehicle by a significant amount which makes everyone happy. The shop hires PDR companies to come in and help them process the hail repairs that they have received from the hail storm.
The PDR companies have also started to become a major player in the insurance appraisal arena. Developing relationships directly with insurance carriers and shops, they may have their own built in appraisal company. PDR companies want to repair the vehicle and will inspect the vehicles for the insurance company or the shop for a highly-discounted rate in hopes of getting to repair the vehicle. Many times, they may do the appraisals completely free if they are able to repair the vehicle.
PDR Needs – Vehicles
PDR Offerings – Technicians