Partner Up: Guidelines for Field Adjusting Teams
Independent field adjusters wear many hats while handling claims and going it alone isn’t always desirable. Many adjusters partner up with family, friends, or even perfect strangers to share the burden of handling claims. In a scenario of satisfying efficiency, one can imagine a husband and wife team dividing their labor to achieve spectacular results. Mr. Jones stands atop a damaged roof with measuring tape in hand, dictating by phone the measurements and materials to Mrs. Jones who is rapidly inputting the data into Xactimate 25. As Mr. Jones is reviewing the scope of damages with the insured, Mrs. Jones organizes and uploads the file to HQ for review. The file is uploaded before the Joneses arrive at their second scope of the day and by 5pm they have completed 7 scopes, submitted 7 estimates, and are ready to relax in their RV – a home away from home. A little idyllic perhaps (claim files aren’t always so obliging), but it is hard to dispute that a good team surpasses even a great individual adjuster. So how does team adjusting work? Do both adjusters need to be licensed? What if any, are the restrictions?
I interviewed two major adjusting firms on this subject. Let’s take a look at their policies:
Interestingly, the first major adjusting firm I spoke with stipulated that an adjuster can bring on an assistant/partner provided that that person has absolutely zero contact with the insured. Yikes. So, your partner could not: a) make scheduling calls, b) participate in the scope, c) participate in the review of the scope, d) participate in further communication towards settlement. This seems just a little draconian. But after chewing on it a bit it does make some sense. If you are given claims and tasked to represent this firm, it really ought to be you representing the firm! And there is still a lot your partner can do. For instance, there was no prohibition of your partner writing the estimate. This can take as much or more time than any other part of the claims process. And as many of you know all too well, there is no shortage of paperwork and file management going on behind the scene of each claim file and your teammate would not be restricted from these highly critical clerical operations. When I asked where licensing played a role in this issue I was told it really didn’t. If the secondary partner held a license and was a recognized adjuster with this firm, he or she would be assigned separate claims files. The point being – one licensed adjuster per file. Still, a natural and fairly equitable division of labor is possible under these terms as estimate writing and digital file management could be delegated to the non-licensed partner.
The second major adjusting firm I queried on this subject had a similar policy with one major difference: the non-licensed or secondary partner was allowed to make scheduling calls to the insured. Scheduling is a critical part of the process and represents a major demand on your time. If you are juggling scheduling for 50 different claims it would be very helpful if that could be tasked to another person. The other rules were largely the same – no direct contact with the insured to discuss their policy or settlement and partners were forbidden from climbing roofs (for liability reasons). Again, there were no prohibitions on estimate writing and management of files behind the scenes. And again, a natural division of labor is suggested with the primary licensed adjuster handling the scope and communication with the insured while the partner handles the scheduling, estimate-writing, and all necessary paperwork.
I think the policies of these two firms will be generally representative of the industry overall. Some companies may have slightly more relaxed rules and perhaps some even more stringent. As always, ask your storm manager to clarify company protocol on partners before your next deployment.
Partnering up makes sense. You can literally cut in half the multiplicity of tasks per claim file. And for many, and just as important, your teammate provides companionship, moral support, and perspective while on the road.