UPDATED: April 12th, 2015.
Good timing is a critical component in determining the successful launch of an independent adjuster’s career.
Many folks considering independent adjusting take a wait and see approach, straddling the fence, as the storm season draws near. And there are apparently good reasons for doing so – the primary one being that there is no reason to invest time and money without the certainty of a real opportunity. The idea is to wait until a hurricane, earthquake, etc hits and then pursue adjusting when demand is at its highest. This seems a perfectly reasonable approach at first glance. However, I would contend that waiting for a sure thing often results in missing out on the opportunity altogether. If you aren’t ready by the time the big one hits, the truth is its probably too late.
Lets examine why –
1) Licensing takes time
Most adjusting firms at very least want to see you licensed somewhere (home state or Designated Home State is preferred) and will first deploy those adjusters who hold a license in the state affected. Obtaining multiple states licenses is recommended therefore and can typically be done so fairly easily through reciprocity with your home state’s license (or DHS per above). This of course means getting your home state’s license as a first step (we recommend an Indiana license for those whose home states don’t license adjusters). And this step can take some time. Aside from studying for, scheduling, and passing your home state’s exam or taking an 40 hour prelicensing course where available you must also wait for the license application to be processed. This can take up to 6 weeks in states like Texas. Add it up and the entire process can easily take two months or more. If you have to wait two months on a license in the wake of a major storm, you won’t be working that storm.
2) Preparation is key to successful first deployment
Imagine entering an environment shaken physically and emotionally to its core. Imagine being tasked with the responsibility of interpreting complex insurance policies with specific riders and endorsements, of applying that policy within the framework of a very particular set of physical circumstances requiring precise damage analysis, knowledge of materials and methods of repair. Imagine doing so calmly, confidently under immense pressure from myriad stressed/confused/bewildered policyholders. Now imagine being expected to do that 3 to 6 times a day starting yesterday.
In every first deployment there will be an element of baptism by fire. But you can greatly increase your odds of enduring success by taking the time to bring a hose. Your “hose” is the knowledge, understanding, and imagination formed through proper adjuster training, particularly xactimate training. Hurrying your training at the 11th hour simply won’t give you the kind of foundational knowledge or confidence you need before assignment in the field. A half-day storm orientation just isn’t going to do it. Proper training requires time – both in class, in private study, and ideally in a ride-a-long with a real adjuster.
3) Rosters and due diligence
Getting licensed, trained, and prepared now allows you to really survey the employment landscape in its entirety and perform due diligence of prospective employers. If you’re rushed, it’s likely you will take the first job opportunity available without much, if any, consideration of the offer or the company behind the offer. The unfortunate reality is that there are sharks in the water and that on every major storm, adjusters get rooked by unethical employers. I believe this occurs primarily because folks aren’t doing their homework on who they are going to work for. However, if you get started well before the summer rush, you will be able to spend some time networking both with newbies and adjusters already in the industry (join the Well-Adjusted Social Network) and find and join not one but multiple companies with a solid reputation.
What’s more, many firms will want you to obtain specific training or carrier certification through them prior to deployment. And, this typically cannot be done in the immediate aftermath of the storm as the firm is expending all available resources on deployment – not training last minute personnel. For instance, some of the major independent firms (Pilot, Eberls, Renfroe) may want you to obtain State Farm Certification to even be considered for work. To expect a reasonable chance of working for one of these firms, you need to get started well before the peak of storm season.
Summary – Now is the Time
Beginning your career transition into independent adjusting well before storm season arrives will dramatically improve both your odds of deployment and your success while deployed. Get licensed and trained now and really get to know the industry through research and networking.
Winter storms and spring tornadoes have already put 2015 on a fast-track to being a big year for independent adjusters. The real storm season will be here soon enough – now is the time!