Frequently Asked Questions
(Answers provided by Trent Massey)
Do we offer a roof inspection certification?
We offer a roof estimating class for the roofing and reconstruction industry which was created for individuals with little to no prior roof estimating experience. Our course is a 5 day class which covers residential roofing materials, roof installation, measuring roofs both manually and using aerial imagery reports, identifying damage, and writing roof estimates in Xactimate. Our course concludes with an exam but there is no 'certification' or designation awarded afterward. This is different from a roof inspection certification which those courses mostly review identifying damage (but little estimating) and carry an examination, but offer a designation upon successful completion. The best and only industry-wide recognized roof inspection certification is currently delivered by Haag Engineering. For those experienced individuals who seek a certification which is respected throughout the industry, please contact Haag for more information regarding qualifications needed to attend.
Do I need a license to be an adjuster and does obtaining a license prepare me to work claims?
Let's address the first part of this question - does someone need a license to be an adjuster? The short answer is it depends on the state requirements where that person is working claims. There are some states which do not require an adjuster's license, but there are more states which do. Even if someone resides in a state which does not require a license, if that person travels to another state which does, then an adjusters license in that other state would be needed. Many claim experts suggest first obtaining a license in your home state (if it's required), then obtain other state licenses where you expect to work claims. Today, its more common for adjusters to have a license in several states.
Let's address the second part of this question - does obtaining a license prepare one to work claims? The short answer is NO. Simply obtaining a license does not prepare one to work claims in the real world. To be fair though it depends on the scope of the educational program one obtained their license. But, from our observation many people with new adjuster's license obtained them in less than a week, often in 5 day classes that guaranteed passing. Furthermore, states like Texas do not require any previous claim's experience before obtaining a license. Just think about these issues..... When previous experience is not required and with more licensing programs focused on passing the exam, this is a recipe for failure without any additional knowledge and skills training. In reality, more newly licensed individuals are obtaining a license without possessing the proper tools needed to perform the daily tasks of adjusting claims. A successful property adjuster knows building materials, knows how to measure and identify building damage, knows how to take proper scope notes, knows adjuster math, and knows estimating software (sometimes more than one brand of software too). A successful adjuster knows the policy language like homeowners policies (and more) and knows how insurers typically interpret these policies. A succesful adjuster most likely uses technology (apps). A successful adjuster knows how to deliver good customer service in a claims setting. A successful adjusters can build a proper claim file which contents allow the "file to speak for itself". We could go on and on but clearly 5 days is not going to be enough time to properly traing anyone to work claims. Licensing classes do not cover these daily tasks of adjusters. Thirty years ago, as staff adjusters we were required to take a 2 week policy class, followed by a 2 week estimating class, followed by a 2 week commercial class, then followed by many more 1 day workshops. Even with this much training, we made a few mistakes. Back then licensing was a technicality but it was never a process which trained us to be actual adjusters. Nothing has changed today in terms of the typical licening process as this is not a training mechanism. Its a technicality because it's often required, but the best adjusters should seek further job training.
Do we offer an adjuster licensing class?
No, we do not offer an adjuster licensing class at this time. If we ever decided to offer a class in the future, we would only offer it with conjunction with a 2 or 3 week estimating training course, at minimum. We advise students to obtain their license, but then seek a 2 week residential estimating class such as one of the courses we offer. We also offer other courses ideal for new adjusters that help them prepare for the daily tasks of adjusting. We now also offer a free property adjuster career assessment for individuals interested in getting an adjuster's license. This is a 1 day free event which reviews common job duties, expectations of adjusting, and we offer a free aptitude test at this event. This event is for individuals who have not yet taken a licensing class so to provide them with real world information to make a better informed decision before incurring licensing and other training costs..
Which is best - public or private training classes?
This is a great question because we offer both types of classes. We offer our insurance company clients as well as construction clients private classes that can be delivered with a minimum of 3 to 4 attendees, based on the class. We do this because its been our experience that open, public classes can never be the best training opportunity for new staff adjusters. Public classes can allow anyone to attend which means, for example, a public training class can have a variety of attendees including staff adjusters from different insurers, independent adjusters, contractors, and even public adjusters. These different attendees have separate needs and interests, to say the least. They may even use different software too. Trying to train attendees with separate needs, interests, and agendas quite frankly 'dumbs' the class down. This class can never be the best training opportunity for those who attend. For these reasons we want to keep some of our classes private. Our private classes mean that only our client's employees are in attendance and with no one else. We can tailor any private class for any client and deliver the exact training needed. We also do this at the industry's most affordable costs. When you compare our classes with competitors, the value and differences are obvious and clear.
We also deliver some classes in a public setting but these are on courses of specific topics. In these classes, we only teach Xactimate and our audience shares the same job position. For public classes, its the best learning option possible since we're not trying to train a class whose attendees are on multiple software and come from different job backgrounds. These classes too are delivered at the industry's most affordable costs.
With so many training companies, how relevant are the qualifications and experience of instructors vs. the reputation of the training company?
With so many training options available, prospective students can be overwhelmed trying to decide which course of study to enroll and from which company is the best. Often, the qualifications of the instructor who is doing the actual teaching is not even considered. Unfortunately, we have seen too many instances where the trainer was not qualified with enough field experience to teach or was competent in the field. Sometimes, these other trainers were not in the field very long and never acquired the body of work needed to train others. Sometimes, these trainers were never trained well themselves when they first started. We have seen trainers who were frankly not successful adjusters so left the field to pursue training opportunities. We have seen trainers who never worked for an insurance company which we require to be a trainer for us because we think its critical. And so on.. But, these individuals often find roles at other training companies.
Here are some training truths.. When I first started teaching in 2008 as well as delivering industry presentations, I learned that mistakes are rarely noticed by the audience. So, even if I made a mistake, the audience didn't know it. I also realized that a new learner usually doesn't know the difference between fact vs. fiction. Most students trust what is being taught. This happens when students have no previous insurance claim or construction experience to draw from, so they accept what is being taught as fact, even if it's not. What we also see as another truth is trainers often clone themselves in their teachings. In other words, what skills and methods worked for them as field adjusters is taught to their students, even if its not best practices. These are training truths that every prospective student should consider. This is why we publish trainer bios on our website so every student knows who their trainer will be before taking a class from us. It's extremely important to know who your trainer is before taking any class anywhere regardless of the training company reputation.
Should adjusters use drones for roof claims?
This is a topic of debate. There are some insurance companies who have adopted drones for inspecting roofs. They have received training and FAA clearance to fly drones. There are also insurance companies who are not on board. Plus, there are some large independent adjusting companies who prohibit their adjusters using drones. Clearly, the industry as a whole is not in agreement on the use of drones for inspecting roofs. Our opinion is drones can be another tool for gathering certain information but a drone will never take the place of a well trained and experienced adjuster on the roof. Too many times storm damage from hail and wind is not always visible in photos. There are also other roof issues which can't be detected unless someone walks the roof. Drones can be used to gather drawings, measurements, and even certain photos (e.g. top of a chimney on a 2 story steep roof), which are time saving tasks. But we do not recommend inspecting damage and then making a claim coverage decision and/or estimate from relying only on photos obtained by a drone and without walking some or all of the roof.
How much money can I make as an adjuster?
There are different types of adjusters and thus different income structures. Each offers its own income scenario. As an example, staff insurance adjusters are those adjusters who work exclusively for insurance companies. Staff adjusters can also include adjusters who work for independent adjusting companies as full time employees. They do not work for anyone else and their income is usually based on salary which is determined by job duties and experience. Insurance companies may employee full time adjusters (at salary) to handle their property, auto, liability, workers compensation, and other types of claims. Each insurer has their own salary structure. While generic job statistics are available, its best to research specific insurers to find out how much they compensate their full time adjusters. Experienced adjusters with a college degree are going to make more money than a new college graduate seeking their first job at an insurance company.
For the purpose of addressing this question, we will identify "independent adjusters" as those who are typically self-employed and do not work full time for any insurance company or adjusting company. These adjusters potentially may work more hours each year than a salaried full time staff adjuster but they don't work exclusively for one employer. These adjusters may specialize in catastrophe claims, large loss, or other. They could also be handling everyday claims too in remote regions where full time insurance company staff adjusters aren't feasible due to less claim exposures (for a single insurer). In any case, we often get asked the question of how much money can independent catastrophe adjusters make? Sadly, too many other training companies way overexaggerate income just to attract students to their courses. The fact is most every new property catastrophe adjuster is NOT going to make six figures each year, especially NOT the first year, doing the job as it is supposed to be done.. We can't say "no one" won't have this kind of first year but realistically it isn't going to happen for the majority. Lower fee schedules paid by insurance companies, time cycle demands, storm patterns, competition, increasing claim file requirements, and more variables all factor into individual income. How much one does earn depends on how many claims they successfully close and the fee schedule to which those claims are handled. The foundation for higher earnings is possessing the proper claim estimating skills, correct construction knowledge, correct claim knowledge, learning to do things the right way, willingness to work longer hours, and much more. Always do your due diligence before starting a new career and paying for training.