As I have stated repeatedly on this blog, I am relatively optimistic, a conservative and strong believer in capitalism. After all, like most of you reading this I am a self employed business man myself.
That said it is very disconcerting to see a once prosperous Independent Insurance Adjusting and Appraising Industry being destroyed as it devours its own through greed and extreme under bidding.
Because of promises being made by major and mid-size Independent Adjusting/Appraisal Companies that just cannot be kept without compromising quality of work and accuracy, customer service has almost become nonexistent.
As anyone knows in this industry, it is either “feast or famine”. The past few years for all too many of us the under bidding and acquiring greed of many of these companies has made performing our duties nearly impossible.
As a result, this adjuster several months back was contacted by an IA who boasts of being one of the largest in the nation which is more hype than reality. Having worked for this company for over two years just four years prior to the recent contact (which I had severed the relationship due to what I felt was becoming increasing unethical), the new contact by them was questionable at best.
The bottom line is due to a slowdown in local work I agreed to accept limited assignments. After only three months the same unethical and trickery style tactics returned along with more than the number of assignments and territory agreed too. As such, we had words and agreed to sever relations.
This is only one of several companies including some carriers which have forgotten about the most important thing…..”COOPERATION”. If the adjusters and appraisers working with the Independent Adjusting/Appraisal Companies are not working as a team with good communication, understanding and thorough information about the claim, owners, insureds and claimants, the best work product which the customer, body shops and contractors expect.
As an example, an examiner for a medium size company so determined to keep the work flow and probably his own job, was determined to remove $145.00 from an estimate which was absolutely necessary to do the job correctly. It was visible damage but he insisted that I change it even though a few days later I received a call from the inside adjuster (who I know well) as to why I had removed it. He was amazed. It’s the old idea of “cutting off one’s nose to spite your face”.
There are companies which are under bidding so low, that the “Mom & Pop” companies are no longer able to compete. Individual Independent Adjusters and Appraisers have been so under bid that most of us are unable to obtain little or any work directly from the Insurance Carriers. This adjuster once had eight separate carriers I could count on one or two claims a month but when the “big boys” step in and offer to do what I was doing for one third to half of what I was charging half of those are gone.
Another problem in many states such as Texas where this adjuster lives and works, is that many companies utilize non-licensed appraisers to do auto inspections. These individuals might be thoroughly familiar with how to write damage estimates and might even have limited customer service skills but they know absolutely nothing about insurance regulations, policies or state law.
As a result out of state IA companies “PUSH” for things which are just not legal, force customers to use their own preferred shops, get agreed prices, take betterment and depreciation and in some cases even cover deductibles. These companies do it all through non-licensed appraisers and simply “play dumb” and if caught claim “plausible deniability”.
Even the mid size companies are facing the same thing. This adjuster has had this very conversation with many CEOs of these mid size companies and some branch manages of a few of our larger well known insurance carriers. They all agree this is an alarming situation.
Capitalism is great. Competition is good and wonderful. But when ethics, quality and even legalities are violated, then it’s time for our industry to take a long hard look at our self.
What I am about to suggest is dangerous but I believe is necessary and the time is right if those of us at the lower end of the Independent “food chain” are to survive.
It is time that we UNITE! It is time that we stand firm, share what we know, speak up about the injustice, lack of timely payment for our work, not receiving what we agreed to be paid for, etc. If we unite, we can make a difference. Let’s not allow the same greed that is corrupting our industry to spread to us individually.
May God bless each independent adjuster/appraiser and grant the wisdom to do the right thing.