Xactimate Skills. Don’t Leave Home Without Them.
Adam Gardiner | Adjuster Pro
April 10, 2015
I wouldn’t wish my first deployment on my worst enemy. I landed into the aftermath of a category 4 hurricane, was handed a stack of claims and a cellophane-wrapped CD that said “Xactimate” (Xactimate is the most popular estimating software for claims). My new storm manager chuckled, a twinkle in his eye, and said “good luck”. He didn’t expect me to make it. Well, I did make it — partly due to pride, partly due to financial desperation — but it was really hard.
Perhaps the greatest challenge was getting a handle on Xactimate. It took me a solid week to write and submit my first Xactimate report (not joking)! I was warned that it would be “kicked back” for revisions, and indeed it was, but after that week of hell, the requested changes seemed minor. I did my next claim faster, the third more so, and after a month or so I was on a roll. I had gotten over the hump. Sadly, many never make it. My storm manager later told me that he never fires anyone, but tons of new adjusters fire themselves by just leaving the storm with their tail between their legs, having jumped in with insufficient preparation, never able to get their heads above water.
Now that I’ve been training adjusters for nearly a decade, I look back in amazement that I actually survived jumping into a catastrophe deployment without any Xactimate training or experience. I instruct on many important aspects of adjusting, but — by far— Xactimate is the largest and most difficult technical hurdle for new claims adjusters. On the other hand, once you really master Xactimate, it becomes one of your most powerful advantages, allowing you to do more claims, more accurately and with greater ease and less stress.
Xactimate proficiency is key to success as an Adjuster; not the only key, but you can be sure you’re not going to survive without it. I liken it to baseball; having a bat does not mean you’re going to be a good ball player, but without one you can be sure you’re not even going to play. Similarly, you’ll need to master many skills, but if you don’t have your license and Xactimate proficiency you’re not even in the game yet.
If you’re middle-aged or above (like me), mastering a complex computer program like Xactimate can feel completely overwhelming, like an impossible hurdle. The good news is that anyone can master Xactimate. I know from experience, first hand; I’ve witnessed great success in some of my most unlikely students. When I trained Debbie, she was in her late 50’s. She noticed that, in our class, the younger folks seemed to “get it” twice as fast. Her resolution? Work twice as hard! Early in her career her coworkers made fun of her late night practice, but her work paid off in spades; the last time I talked to her, she called me looking to hire good candidates to work for her. She had started and was running her own claims company, working directly for an insurance company who send her all of their large loss claims business.
So how exactly does one master Xactimate? I recommend two things; good training and lots of practice.
- Good training. I divide training into two basic categories; technical and practical. Technical training is fine, and most training out there is technical. It’s geared to understanding and mastering the intricacies of the program, all of the small details. The problem I’ve seen in my decade of training is that folks who’ve only received technical training are ill-prepared to hit the ground running in a deployment and actually make money with Xactimate. I can’t count the number of folks I’ve had through my classes who holf an Xactimate certification, but don’t know how to efficiently and effectively close claims with this powerful tool! Practical training, on the other hand, is geared towards working. I’m talking about closing claims, getting the job done, making your deployments really count. Good practical training should and will prepare you to pass Xactimate certification tests, too. These certifications are nice feathers to have in your cap and will indeed help you get work, but remember that the ultimate goal is closing claims and making money with Xactimate. Our Tactical Xactimate class is specifically developed to get you ready to use Xactimate effectively.
- Lots of practice. When you deploy for the first time, trust me; you’ll have tons of practice. Problem is, deployment is too late. Folks who succeed continue practicing directly after class. Xactimate makes this easy of you; they have a free 30-day demo you can use during training and afterward for practice, and most of the time if you call them they’ll extend it twice for you. That’s 90 days to scope and estimate your own house, your neighbors house and the whole cul de sac. It’s the exceptional student who’s serious enough about their adjusting career to do this, but it really works. In fact, I’d be willing to bet that the percentage of folks that succeed in this career is similar to the percentage of folks who care enough to practice Xactimate diligently before deployment.
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