Insurance adjusters are taught to investigate coverage and evaluate damage. Good faith performance requires that this be done in a prompt, thorough, and honest manner. Most adjusters are taught to document what they see in the field through photographs, video, and the collection of evidence. Good faith also requires that the adjusters undertaking this important job be qualified to adjust the loss they are assigned.

Stephen Hadhazi, a Texas public adjuster, recently wrote of a relatively new adjustment practice. When inspecting roof damage from hailstorm, some insurers are sending out either incompetent field adjusters or those with no authority, who merely take photographs of hailstorm damage.

This…addresses the very popular practice of insurance carriers where they send adjusters out into the field to merely photograph some of the damages. These adjusters then send the photos into a desk adjuster, potentially hundreds or thousands of miles away to be reviewed to see whether the damages in the pictures are wind, hail or whatever type of damage is being claimed.

The field adjusters claim to be merely the “Eyes and ears” of the desk adjuster. This sounds really great – until you ask the opinion of one of the field adjusters and he tells you that he is not there to give an opinion. The obvious problem with this is that unless we know how the field adjuster feels about the damages that you are showing him then how do we know when to stop showing him damage – or more accurately, when to stop prodding him to look at damages.

Many times I will be on a roof with thousands of impact marks and after I show the adjuster 15 or 20 marks then he stops me and says “Ok, that is enough…I have what I need”. But, was it enough? We will not know until we get the report from the insurance carrier – which many times is a denial that what was shown to the adjuster was, in fact, hail or wind damage.

Had the adjuster been honest and said “Ok, I have seen the 15 or 20 marks that you have shown me and I do not think that is hail or wind damage” then I might have discussed with him his thoughts on what he felt constituted hail damage and I may have continued to show him hundreds of other marks that might have qualified under his criteria.

However, we are not given that opportunity because most field adjusters will not discuss the criteria of what they consider to be hail or wind damage. They just want to take a few representative photos and send them to the desk adjuster thousands of miles away – which many times leads to a speedy denial.

This practice of field adjusters not being allowed assess damages is nothing more than a shell game by the insurance carriers and it needs to be exposed.

I wonder what my colleague Steven Badger, who represents various insurers with hailstorm claims, would think about this practice if his clients were doing this?

I agree with Hadhazi. I think it is not proper adjustment. It certainly is not how many insurers adjust losses. The fact that it is a practice by some should be exposed to Departments of Insurance. I cannot imagine any insurer doing this would pass a market conduct examination. I am curious how claims executives would explain their decision to adjust hailstorm claims in this manner.

My sources tell me that insurers practicing this method of adjusting include the following:

  • Admiral Insurance
  • The Travelers
  • Allstate Insurance
  • State Farm – at least those claims assigned to independent adjusters
  • Farmers
  • Homeowners Insurance of America
  • Safeco insurance

I will gladly add or remove companies as I gain information.