A field adjuster, as opposed to a desk adjuster, is required to travel to the location of a claim and complete a physical inspection. Field adjusters handle a variety of claims, such as flood, auto and property, and can work both daily and catastrophe claims depending on the season and claims volume. Each case is different from one claim to the next, while the process and practices remain the same. In addition, many claims require specific licenses and certifications to ensure compliance.
Field adjusters are responsible for identifying the cause of loss, taking photos, documenting damages and writing reports. Sometimes, adjusters are required to complete physically demanding tasks. By taking the extra safety precaution of completing a safety certification, such as Rope & Harness or ladder safety modules, a field adjuster practices responsible claims inspection management.
Joe Kendall, a CAT Field Adjuster, finds his experience similar to the above description. He accepts assignments and is then deployed to a storm location to resolve claims. “Inspections can be an hour away from my location so it’s important to strategically plan my day,” he explains.
Once Joe makes it to the inspection location, he introduces himself to the policyholder and takes photos of the exterior. He then listens to the insured share their story about the storm and begins inspecting the rest of the property. Fortunately, Joe has construction experience and is able to use his knowledge to thoroughly examine any structural damage. “Another essential part of the job is accuracy. Adjusters should double-check the property to make sure nothing else has been damaged or altered after the initial report,” he comments. Once the inspection is complete, Joe makes the policyholder aware of the process and timeline for claim resolution.
After leaving the site of a claim, Joe works on writing his report. He strives to work as efficiently as possible, making sure the insured and their needs are a top priority.
Field adjusters are expected to perform inspections in person and have to be physically capable of completing the review. Claims knowledge comes with time, but field adjusters must be up-to-date on current industry standards in order to accurately inform policyholders and write reports. They will also need to be proficient with estimating software such as Xactimate. Previous professional experience, like a construction background, can be especially useful when out in the field. Acquiring licenses, certifications and other continuing education courses will further enhance an adjuster’s understanding of the industry and their role.
Additionally, field adjusters have to be able to adapt quickly. The industry is constantly changing due to emerging technologies, such as drones, which can be useful to field adjusters. However, Joe believes that it is still necessary for adjusters to perform a complete inspection in case the drone misses small details like hail or wind damage.
“We need adjusters in the field— not just technology,” he said. “We need people who understand how to restore a home.”
While other skills are important, it is essential that an adjuster is able to build a relationship and rapport with the policyholder. After catastrophic events, the foundation of relationship building is paramount. Policyholders need to know that the adjuster is there to help. Adjusters must be able to empathize and show compassion to the insured at all times.
One of the challenges field adjusters face is time management. CAT Adjuster, Chip Belcher, admits “being in the field can be overwhelming, especially during the aftermath of a catastrophic storm. Constantly feeling overwhelmed by work can cause some adjusters to feel burnt out.”
To combat this, Chip relies on his organizational and time management skills. He tries to pace himself by planning out his inspections. Adjusters must have enough time to complete an inspection and provide updates to the insured as often as possible. Outside of the inspection, Chip adds in time for writing reports and returning to his work. The paper trail for field adjusters can grow quickly, but Chip’s advice is to “only inspect what you can also write up in the same day.”
A benefit of field adjusting is the chance to travel the world. Many adjusters enjoy this aspect of their job and the opportunity to visit new places. In fact, CAT Adjuster, Clay Bauman, was initially drawn to the position for the travel opportunities. However, while traveling has its rewards, disaster areas are most likely experiencing a lack of resources. Clay admits that it can be challenging to work in those conditions, but that helping others is worth it. Deployments can last for an extended period of time, which requires adjusters to leave family members and friends for an unknown duration. This is one of the most difficult aspects of the job and should be taken into consideration when deciding on this career path.
Regardless of an adjuster’s position in the industry, policyholders are the priority. Patience is a key skill in any adjusting position. Monique Strickland, a flood adjuster, says, “if you are customer-focused, you will be driven in everything you do.”
If you consider yourself physically capable, willing to build on existing skills and have the endurance to face these challenges, then the field adjusting career is a great path to take. It offers the opportunity to travel to new places and build meaningful relationships with people from all over the world. Whether an adjuster is working in a call center to organize other adjusters or out on their first deployment, restoring the livelihoods of communities is the goal of this hard yet rewarding career path.
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