Tell us about your career path within the industry and how long you’ve been with Claims Adjuster Training Institute (CATI)
I have been working in this industry for over 20 years in a variety of positions such as staff claims representative, independent adjuster, manager, trainer, and training manager at CATI. I worked for insurance companies for 10 years or so before I started running claims in South Dakota as an IA, where I drove all over the state taking claims and building up my reputation in the industry.
After years of working multi-line claims, I reached out to Mike Pszanka at U.S. Adjusting Services, who I’d worked for over the years, and expressed an interest in moving to a training role. In the midst of interviewing with Jessica Hamilton, Hurricanes Harvey, and Irma hit, things took off, and I’ve been at CATI ever since. Helping CATI grow into the training machine it is now has been one of the most rewarding parts of my career.
How is the Claims Adjuster Training Institute (CATI) different than other adjuster training schools? What makes CATI unique?
At CATI, we don’t limit ourselves to only training emerging independent adjusters – we offer a range of educational services that include continuing education courses and advanced skills training for seasoned adjusters. Additionally, we welcome those who are still in the “career exploration” phase that simply want to find out if this industry is for them and they can do so by taking a few introductory courses.
We are unique in that we also create programs, custom-tailored to meet the needs of each carrier. This has assisted in the growth of our business and reputation in the industry and helped us better prepare our own adjusters for claims handling with those client partners. By reaching beyond the limitations of only offering services to independent adjusters, we build trust and resilient relationships with various insurance carriers. Through this, CATI has the ability to gain key insight into exactly how different carriers prefer their claims to be handled. Delivering this important industry knowledge is invaluable to our students and helps them become successful in the field.
Another area that makes CATI unique is the high-quality, hands-on training that allows students to learn while being out of their seats most of the day. We keep a low student-to-teacher ratio so that students feel they are getting the personalized training they need. Our goal is to accelerate beyond simply teaching the material but for our students to truly experience simulated claims handling, estimating, and scoping just like how it would be in real life. Our students leave feeling empowered and excited to start working!
By offering a wide array of educational programming and maintaining strong relationships with insurance carriers, we have been able to create a proven learning environment for adjusters to go on to become successful and sought-after industry professionals.
Do you have any tips or recommendations for new adjusters getting started in this industry?
One of our most common mantras at CATI is: “we are adjusters and we adjust.” Different carriers want different things and it is our job to adjust what we do in order to make it happen. You adjust to the requirements of the situation and if you invest in the right training, you will be off to a good start with the tools and knowledge base necessary for success.
We also encourage adjusters to simply come to class, be prepared, and make the investment. This is a highly-skilled career where success often means more than YouTube videos and a few online training classes. If you put the hard work in now, you’ll benefit greater in the future and receive more deployment offers. Hard work now equals success later!
Can you describe the training facility?
With CATI and Eberl joining forces, we now have 2 state-of-the-art training facilities located in Dallas, TX!
Our Royal Campus offers a residential home, adjustable slope roof for rope/harness training, auto lab with vehicles, and additional exterior mockups. The Skyway Campus offers 3 roof structures including a steep and tall A-frame (used for rope/harness training), a partial house with a roof, and a 4ft high full-size roof. We added this short roof so that adjusters who are not comfortable with steeps can still obtain hands-on training for roof inspections. Our facility also includes a materials room as well as over a dozen other interior and exterior spaces.
These spaces allow adjusters to observe and gain training with simulated damage from fire, smoke, water, wind/hail, and much more. Adjusters will learn how to identify both materials and damages leading to more accurate estimates. During our in-person week-long adjuster training course, the adjuster will complete 5 claims over the course of one week.
Given how our industry is evolving, what skills do you believe are more important than ever before for adjusters to develop?
There is a growing need for adjusters who are skilled in handling claims virtually!
CATI offers training regarding this topic and how the adjuster can work with homeowners in a virtual setting to obtain the information they need for the estimates. Staying current with new technology, such as Hover, and ensuring that you’re keeping track of the evolving adjusting environment are important hurdles claims professionals need to continually cross and adapt to. Be open to change, be ready to get the work where you can, and be willing to move where the market is going. Otherwise, the alternative could be not having the work at all. IA firms will reward you with that choice assignment when you are willing to help them with the less ideal ones. We are all in this together!
What is the biggest gap in adjuster skillsets that carriers routinely observe?
One area we often observe ourselves and hear about from our carrier partners and our claims managers is being able to properly identify product or material. For example, knowing the difference between laminate and solid wood or the difference in roofing materials.
Another area that could use a boost is soft skills! Professionalism is critical to success – you want to be trusted to work with the IA firm’s insurance carrier partners. Whenever you speak to staff at IA firms, insurance carriers, homeowners – whoever it may be – always showcase your utmost professionalism. Other soft skills include communication with the homeowner, time management, and organization. Prioritizing responsibilities and getting estimates done in a timely manner – and treating the customer right – will keep IA firms wanting to work with you.
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