In this series we’re looking at some of the ways to tame the CAT experience. Previously, we looked at the importance of the first call, setting expectations and categorizing the claims. In this post we’ll look at prioritization and strategizing to handle the maximum number of claims with the maximum efficiency – in particular, minimum amount of driving and down-time.
Prioritization and Strategizing
After I’ve called all claimants and have a “big picture” idea of the claims I’ve been assigned, I like to get a big picture view of my claims on a map. This is a major key to efficient claims handling; I’ll explain below. To accomplish this, I’ve been using Microsoft Streets & Trips for years; it’s an amazing product. I’ll explain my process:
First, the claimant info (name, address, phone, claim number, etc.) must be entered into Xactimate. If you’re lucky, your claims company will do the basic data-entry for you and they’ll send the claim to you via xactnet.com. Unfortunately, all of the claims companies I’ve worked for have sent me my claims assignments via some home-grown claims management program of some sort or via fax (I use www.myfax.com which sends me the fax as an email with a PDF attachment). This means I have to do the data-entry into Xactimate. I hate data-entry, so I aim to do as little as possible of it. I mention this because Xactimate has a cool feature that allows a direct “data-dump” from Xactimate to Microsoft Streets & Trips. This totally eliminates a second round of data entry! So enter all my claims into Xactimate, then export/import them to Streets & Trips, and instantaneously I’ve got all of my claims on this virtual map as “push-pins”. The next step is to change the properties of the push-pins according to the “bucket” that the claim belongs in (read about “buckets” in the previous blog here). For example, give the “urgent” and troublesome claimants a red flag symbol instead of a push pin. Folks I can’t reach via phone get a black flag symbol. “Anytime” folks get a green dot. Regular, call-and-schedule-first claimants get a yellow dot, and so on. When I’ve invested the time to do this, I have created a masterpiece of true value. I see my hot-spots, my priority claims, the proximity of the folks I can’t reach to other claims I need to visit and – in short – I’m armed with the birds-eye view, and NOW I’m in a position to start scheduling!
Before I go over the particulars of the strategy, I’d like to reiterate a piece of advice that I found extremely helpful as a new adjuster. My first storm manager told me not to schedule all my claims on the first call. Rather, he suggested I contact them all, and then – after they’ve all been contacted, calmed and made aware that I’d be calling them back at a future date to schedule – I choose one claim from the pack and work that claim from start to finish, before I attempt to schedule a second claim, regardless of how much they wail. This advice saved my career, because as it turned out it took me a full week to write my first claim! The inspection part was easy, but figuring out how to put it all in Xactimate and then format the report as required by the claims company was pure hell. Moreover, the claim got “kicked back” to me for revisions from my storm manager. I revised it, then it got kicked back yet again. The second revision was adequate. This taught me several things:
- don’t underestimate the full claims process; it’s way more than just inspecting the loss.
- I can learn a lot about what my storm manager wants from me by the “kickbacks” and their notes. Learning on your first few claims is better than doing a bunch of claims and then getting them all kicked back. I quit getting kickbacks after only a few claims by carefully noting what my manager liked and didn’t like.
- Don’t overestimate your ability to crank out claims. The claims company will be happier with a few well-written reports in the beginning than a pile of junk claims weeks into the storm, provided you continue to get faster and more efficient so your claims volume grows reasonably.
- This is necessary in order to manage expectations. It’s part of “under-promise, over-deliver”
Once I learned how long it took me to do my first claim, I was more cautious about scheduling my second claim, which took me a couple days to complete. The third claim I did took less time, the fourth was even less, and pretty soon I was able to realistically gauge how many claims I could handle in a given day based on what I knew about the loss. This enabled me to inspect multiple losses per day and still have the reports for those inspections completed by the end of that same evening.
In my next post I’ll return to the topic of strategizing claims scheduling. Thanks for reading!