Dealing with the aftermath of an incident that requires repairs can be frustrating, infuriating, and even anxiety inducing. Don’t let emotions boil over into your relationship with the client.
TOP 5 WAYS TO HELP A CLIENT HAVING ADJUSTER ISSUES
When the estimates don’t align with expectations, what’s an agent to do?
By Michael Wayne
Dealing with the aftermath of an incident that requires repairs is, at best, inconvenient. Many times, the situation is downright frustrating, perhaps infuriating, and even anxiety inducing. This is particularly true for clients when the aftermath involves adjuster damage estimates. At times, emotions can boil over into your relationship with the client and you may find yourself on the receiving end of misplaced anger or even rage at a time when they are feeling helpless and looking to you for guidance.
Understanding that we are not always the experts and that sometimes we have to defer to others is a tough but rewarding lesson to master.
As you attempt to assuage clients, the potential exists for saying or doing something harmful in the name of preserving the business. Keeping a cool head is your greatest asset in spots such as these—even when your client is vociferously making it known that you aren’t doing enough for someone who is supposed to be on their side. Like always, your best course of action is to educate your clients before, during, and after an incident occurs. If you do find yourself being pressured to jump in and save the day when your client is fuming over an adjuster estimate, here are the Top 5 ways that you can help.
Do not pretend to be Bob the Builder. Bob the Builder is famous for asking, “Can we fix it?” While you may have the skills necessary to make repairs when your broker hat is not on, you have to remember that you are not a contractor in this instance. When it comes to adjuster estimates, remember that you cannot help clients with unit cost issues, methods of repair, or the scope of necessary repairs. They need a licensed contractor to do the work.
Do not get in the middle. You are not a client/adjuster mediator. Suggest that the client engage the adjuster in dialogue via a meeting that includes the client’s contractor or other consultant to amicably work through the differences that they are having. Everyone may not be cordial to start, but if the client can approach the adjuster calmly and indicate that they are trying to understand the process that led to the end result instead of attacking with fire and brimstone, they may elicit a positive result.
Have them invoke the appraisal provision. If differences aren’t able to be smoothed out through civil communication, your client’s property policy has an appraisal provision that can serve as the next step. At that point, you can advise your client to make a demand in writing for an appraisal as the policy language stipulates. From there, both sides have an appraiser assess the damages.
If the appraisers are not in agreement as to the damages, they will bring in a third-party appraiser at their cost to make a determination. More times than not, if one of the two sides have been completely irrational in their damage assessment, the likelihood is that they will be ruled against.
Advise them to pay attention to adjuster estimates. Following a disaster, once everyone’s safety is assured, clients want things to get back to normal as soon as possible. That is a potentially dangerous mentality that could lead to later financial heartache. In their desire to be made whole again, clients sometimes fall victim to contractors hunting for desperate prey.
Unfortunately, that may cause your client to disregard what an adjuster has informed them the reasonable cost to repair is in favor of an overpriced contractor who offers an oasis in a desert of labor. More times than not, clients will not recoup what they paid out of desperation.
Tell them to wait on having the work started. This tip goes hand-in-hand with the previous one. Clients want to see progress being made at breakneck speed. The desire to be made whole again rears its ugly head again here when clients don’t have an agreement in place with their adjuster and authorize work to begin anyway. Barreling ahead without set parameters in place is reckless and sets up a client for all sorts of issues. Chief among these is the possibility of being stuck paying for repairs out of pocket that they can’t actually afford.
Sitting on the sidelines and being passive is not a role that sits well with most agents. I get that. Our nature is to try and fix things when they break, just as it is in our nature to prepare clients as best as we can before something goes wrong. Understanding that we are not always the experts and that sometimes we have to defer to others is a tough but rewarding lesson to master.
Michael Wayne is a freelance insurance writer.