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In my first post in this series, we talked about the essential elements of the first call.  The second article dealt with setting expectations.  In this installment we’ll take a first look at the next three steps; categorize, prioritize and strategize the inspections.

In the business of CAT Adjusting, it is hard to overstate the importance of efficient use of time and energy.  To state it simply, you’ve got a limited period of time to do as many claims as you can (properly) complete.  That means, for starters, that you need to find a way to inspect as many losses as possible with as little down-time and drive time as possible.

If you’ve used the suggestions I made in the previous posts, you’ve called all of the claimants you can reach and you’ve got notes about all of them; how serious their loss is, what issues they have, what types of people they are, etc.  You are now in a much better position to categorize, prioritize and strategize.  In this post we’ll look at the first; categorization.


I like to put each claimant into a “bucket” (i.e. a classification of how they need to be scheduled).  Here are some of the buckets I use:

a)    “Anytime” Bucket – these claimants are cool with the inspection happening anytime; they’re not insisting you rush right over, the loss is typically minor and they are easy to work with regarding access and availability.  In a perfect world, everyone would be an “anytime” – it would make scheduling a snap!  These folks are great “filler”, and we’ll look at what this means in the “strategize” post.   There are a number of reasons why someone could fall into this bucket, including:

  • they work from home
  • stay-at-home mom home-schools the kids
  • they work just down the street, and will drive to meet you with five minutes notice
  • no exterior damage – hail-related claims are a good example here.  Sometimes – depending on the claims company guidelines – you can inspect the loss without the insured present, provided you have their permission and you’ve set expectations correctly (make sure there’s no vicious dog in the yard and make sure it’s not a gated community that requires that they buzz you in)
  • total loss – in situations like Katrina, sometimes the structure is completely gone; all that’s left is a slab.  Access may be difficult to the area, but access to the house is typically not an issue!

b)   “Urgent and/or Troublesome” Bucket – we looked at these folks in the last post; they either have a truly urgent need or they need to be expedited or they’ll cause you problems.  These folks are focal points in the prioritizing and strategizing phase.  More on this soon.

c)    “Mon, Tues, Wed, Thur, Fri, Sat, Sun” Buckets – most claimants fall into this category, meaning you’ll be calling them back and scheduling for a given day in the week.  An important note; as much as possible, try to give yourself a good, wide window of time; I’ll explain what I mean.  Have you ever scheduled cable or satellite installation?  They give you a date and tell you that you have the option of 8-noon or noon-5!  It’s impossible to pin them down to a time.  Adjusters can’t (and shouldn’t) usually do this, but we can give a window of time such as “I’ll be there between 9 and 11am”.  This will be a very helpful tool to manage expectations when unforeseen stuff happens in the field.

d)   “Can’t be Reached” Bucket – sometimes the contact phone numbers given just don’t reach the insured, and reverse address lookups and calls to agents just don’t work.  When this is the case, I try to get by to the physical address when I’m in the vicinity so I can either try to make contact then and there or leave my contact info.  These folks need to be part of the overall strategy.

You might find other buckets, but these are my basics pre-claim buckets (post-claim buckets include “inspected/not-written”, “waiting on someone”, “revisions needed”, etc. – more on that later)

Once everyone is in their proper bucket, you can start to get the big picture; the “claim landscape” starts to come into view.  In my next post we’ll look at prioritization and strategizing to handle the maximum number of claims with the minimum amount of driving and down-time.  Stay tuned!



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