NEW BOOK ANNOUNCEMENT:
As this series develops, Gabriel J. Jones and I are transforming content from The Xactimate Sessions into a book that will release shortly after the podcast episodes are all released. This will be a great compliment to our first book, Be Intentional: Estimating. Please RSVP your copy today.
This book is intended for:
Jon Isaacson, The Intentional Restorer, was invited to present a breakout session for the 2021 IA Path Virtual Job Fair.
What is the IA Path Adjuster Job Fair?
The IA Path Adjuster Job Fair is an online platform for adjusters and companies looking for adjusters to find each other. This is adjuster-specific networking designed for insurance adjusters and those looking to recruit and hire insurance adjusters. https://virtual.adjusterjobfair.com
This is a twice-annual event. Dates for the two upcoming events are,
This event was created by Chris Stanley and his team. Chris was a guest on The DYOJO Podcast Episode 38 where, among other topics, we discussed how to work with an insurance adjuster's "box". Chris explained his process for working insurance claims in the automobile wing and how those principles can apply to property insurance as well.
For this presentation, How To Go Toe-To-Toe With A Contractor And Win Every Time During Insurance Claim Negotiations, we played off of the title of a presentation that Bill Wilson, author of When Words Collide, used to use to share his process for doubtful and disputed claims. We had the pleasure of diving into this topic with Bill and David Princeton (Advocate Claim Service), on The DYOJO Podcast Episode 48.
Sample dialogue from this presentation:
In insurance work, where Xactimate is the common estimating platform, the first step is to establish the agreed-upon scope (based on data capture) and then build an estimate that reflects this approach (data input). Thorough data capture leads to accurate data input. These are also fundamental elements of a contract. Insurance is a bit unique in this aspect, where the scope is negotiated between the contractor and the insurance carrier which establishes the agreed-upon scope whereby the contract between the customer and the contractor will be created.
The primary goal (aka the standard) for insurance claims repairs is: To restore the property to resemble pre-loss conditions, no more and no less.
This is the standard by which all efforts should be judged. This standard is critical to remember during all phases and starts with the estimating process. The property restoration estimator, insurance adjuster, and homeowner/insured should have a “meeting of the minds” to confirm the scope of work relevant to that standard.
The DYOJO Way of the Intentional Adjuster: Use this standard as your opening statement to the client as well as your introduction to the contractor, take the lead on the conversation and establish the process for your discussions. (Read more on The Standard)
In insurance work, the agreed scope of work is a foundational element. While many people focus on the price, in insurance the standard estimating tool is called Xactimate which helps create a common language between contractors and carriers. Xactimate estimates are constructed based upon quantities and are composed line by line and room by room. While Xactimate is often over-utilized as a guide for the insurance claims repair process, it is also blamed when either party doesn’t agree with the output.
Thorough data capture leads to accurate data input.
The software’s role should be understood as communicating a fair and reasonable price in relationship to the scope of work necessary: To restore the property to resemble pre-loss conditions, no more and no less.
The DYOJO Podcast airs Thursdays at 9am PST, you can WATCH on YouTube or LISTEN on Spotify. The podcast for the intentional restorer, helping you shorten your DANG learning curve for personal and professional development. thedyojo.com/listen
NEW SEASON + NEW SERIES from The DYOJO Podcast
The Xactimate Sessions from The DYOJO Podcast
File 001 - Learning Xactimate from scratch with Greg Power
The DYOJO Podcast Season 3, Episode 65
Greg Power Discusses How He Learned Xactimate
Greg Power is a project manager/estimator based in Tacoma, WA who learned Xactimate rapidly with no prior industry experience. He initially started writing estimates for property managers responding to damages in apartment complexes and then was soon inundated with a high volume of program work (third party administrator or TPA) for insurance claims. Greg will share some insights on how he approached learning Xacitmate which will be helpful to aspiring estimators and training managers alike.
The Xactimate Sessions - File 001
Building from the success and reception for Benchmarks of Growth, a six-part series which The DYOJO Podcast produced earlier this year, the team will be releasing these multi-part Xactimate Sessions weekly over the next few months. Viewers and listeners will receive a great deal of value from the mindset and habits that have helped our guests as well as some deals from the participating vendors and sponsors of the show. Listeners are encouraged to leave comments and/or questions on any of the social media platforms including Youtube, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram so that the discussion can evolve in relationship to need as the episodes drop.
SPONSOR: The DYOJO Podcast is sponsored by Advocate Claim Service (ACS), "Where you can find solutions to claims that are causing you anxiety." David Princeton and his team are ready to help you navigate doubtful and disputed insurance claims.
Learning Xactimate With No Prior Experience
Our discussion on The Xactimate Session - File 001 with Greg Power includes:
Learning To Sketch for Estimating with Xactimate
As we close File 001 of The Xactimate Sessions, we extend the conversation by discussing approaches to training your team to sketch, as this was brought up in one of social media groups for restorers. Jon references an old video where he was teaching his young children to sketch and announces The DYOJO collaboration with DocuSketch which is offering a $200 discount on the initial hardware package to members of The DYOJO Nation who use the custom code "DS-DYOJO1".
The DYOJO Podcast, the official home of the DYOJO Nation as so declared by The Global Watchdog, Pete Consigli, exists to help intentional restorers to shorten their DANG learning curve for personal and professional development. thedyojo.com/listen
Have you reviewed the recent change to the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) S500 Standard for Professional Water Damage Restoration (Fifth Edition) aka ANSI/IICRC S500-2021. The S500 was released in 1994 as the Standard and Reference Guide for Professional Water Damage Restoration (First Edition). One of the most significant changes to this Fifth Edition is the removal of the Reference Guide from the document. I reached out to Darren Foote as an IICRC S500 Consensus Body Member, to clarify on the status of the Reference Guide he shared, "The Reference Guide, it may have a different name, but there is a plan to release another version of it as a stand alone from the Standard."
IICRC S500 Water Damage Standard Committee
As listed in the front of the S500:
IICRC S500 Consensus Body Chairman
How Are Water Damage Industry Standards Formed
Historical references for how standards are developed and some perspectives on having a proper understanding of their role for the modern restorer. Please understand these are not endorsements of these authors or concepts, just presenting a broader range of information.
Restorative Drying Quackery - IAQ Radio Episode 134 - Ken Larsen
The Death of 3 Day Drying - R&R Magazine - Kris Rzesnoski
“RIA, IICRC and ACAC training models are complimentary. Back in 1980, ASCR now RIA developed the Certified Restorer (CR) program and held it out as the most advanced designation that a restorer could obtain. IICRC courses are important stepping stones to that end. Since the CR course, RIA has developed the Water Loss Specialist (WLS) and the Certified Mold Professional (CMP).”
Two peer reviewed articles appeared in the August 2016 issue of the IICRC Journal, edited by John Downy, along with details from the story behind them. The two authors and John appeared on IAQ Radio Episode 426 to further discuss:
On The DYOJO Podcast Episode 60 we started a historical discussion regarding the evolution of the standards with Cliff Zlotnik, John Downey, Ken Larsen, Pete Consigli, and a special message from The Restoration Lawyer, Ed Cross.
If you would like a history of the development of voluntary standards in our industry, along with the evolution fo the Restoration Industry Association (RIA), you can read my article A History of Collaboration, a Future of Advocacy from R&R which includes a summary timeline.
Sample Discussion Points with Your Water Damage Teams
Sample discussion points for discussing the changes to the IICRC S500 as well as the inclusion of industry standards and best practices for your mitigation teams:
Feedback from Water Damage Professionals
In preparation for a local networking and educational meeting for restorers based in Washington State (PNW), I reached out to a few water damage some notable water damage professionals to get some feedback on these changes to the IICRC S500:
“The ANSI/IICRC S500 Standard relates to 'practices that are common to reasonably prudent members of the trade who are recognized in the industry as qualified and competent.” The Consensus Body and subcommittees draft the Standard which is then put out for public review and comment. Each comment is individually reviewed and responded to. There is also an appeals process. Once the S500 goes through this process and receives ANSI approval, the becomes the industry Standard of Care and is often referred to for proper water damage techniques, training resources, disputes, lawsuits, etc.” - Darren Foote, Remediation Training & Consulting and Consensus Body Member
“I agree the industry is fed the standard as scripture and carriers take it as such. I am working to propose scientific and mathematical algorithms to answer the questions our industry has needed answers to for a long time.” - Chris Laney, Water Out of Fort Wayne and Instructor at the Dewald Academy of Drying
“The Consensus Body (CB) operates on a consensus basis. If a member or members bring up a section of the standard or specific language they believe could be improved, the proposed edits must achieve consensus prior to adoption. I can say that consistency and clarity were a common theme in our process, there are many locations where similar topics are discussed throughout the standard and we made a considerable effort to ensure that the language was consistent throughout the document regarding these topics. We also made a noteworthy effort to clarify a number of topics and their surrounding language that could have previously been interpreted in multiple ways. I think it is fair to say that the 5th edition S500 is an improvement over the 4th edition, not only from a standard-language perspective but removing the reference guide from the publication should eliminate a lot of the misguided attempts to consider reference guide language as a component of the standard.” - Roman Redfrance, France & Company and Consensus Body Member
“I would say that the role of dehumidification in the process has been very clearly defined in the 5th edition, the dehumidifier sizing appendix should be much more resistant to misuse. Section 12 (was section 13) is much more linear and easy to understand, and section 16 Materials and Assemblies has been cleaned up considerably as well.” - Roman Redfrance
Additional Resources for Restorers
In relationship to defining the standard of care to support your scope, restoration contractors often find they have to defend their pricing as well. Membership in the Restoration Industry Association (RIA) provides contractors with resources such as the Advocacy and Government Affairs (AGA) Position Paper on Deviation from Standardized Pricelists. According to a recent press release, “The document states that most insurance policies require insurance companies to pay the “usual and customary” and/or “reasonable” price to repair property damaged in a covered loss. Pricing software providers recognize that project costs can vary depending on many factors. Standardized prices may not accurately represent the prices an insurer must pay to fulfil its obligations under the policy.”
In business, it is important that you do no allow anyone to tell you whether you can or can’t do something. At the end of the day, only you can identify your vision and develop your strategy for success. In property restoration and insurance claims work, you wouldn't have to search far to find someone who speaks poorly of what is referred to as program work (aka third party administrator (TPA) or preferred vendor program).
For most water and fire damage mitigation and repairs contractors, you are either:
Common programs in property restoration insurance claims include:
Our guests for The DYOJO Podcast Ep. 58 (PVJ 012) shared some of their tips and tricks for playing to win the TPA game.
You Play to Win the (TPA) Game
The DYOJO Podcast LIVE, Episode 58 aka Pro vs. Joe 012
Recorded LIVE - Saturday, April 17, 2021 - 8pm PST
The DYOJO Podcast is sponsored by Enlightened Restoration Solutions (ERS). Ben Justesen and his team have put together a dynamic live class which reviews real world estimates and elevates your ability to master the methodology of Xactware. Including how to determine your own labor rates, create your own price list, and navigate pricing feedback.
Bryan Close All American Restoration Services (Tacoma, WA)
Tye Panzone (Bonney Lake, WA)
David Smith (Eugene, OR)
Join us live - youtube.com/thedyojo
For those who work in the insurance claims profession, writing an estimate in Xactimate is a constant learning process. As with any tool, Xactimate has its strengths and weaknesses. Often the issues with the platform are related to communicating the story of the loss to the various parties involved in an insurance claim. We will discuss five common Xactimate issues as well as the corresponding responses and resources that will help you transform them into opportunities to improve your process.
Common Xactimate Estimating Issue One
Writing an estimate that accurately reflects the conditions of the structure and how you plan to restore it to pre-loss conditions is only part of the battle. When working with insurance companies, especially if you do “program work” through third party administrators (TPAs), you have to also learn the requirements of the carriers. Issue number one is poor carrier and program basic level compliance. If you, or your team, is consistently getting rejected for the same basic things, you must STOP blaming “the other side” and START to pull your head out of the dark places of the status quo. Learning from rejection is key to your success with insurance claims estimating.
Response: Develop a better mindset, starting with training and consistent processes for estimating compliance.
Resource: The Three R’s of Mastering Xactimate discusses the mindset of learning from rejection, repetition, and relationships as you develop your estimating skills.
Common Xactimate Estimating Issue Two
Even if you are independent and don’t do any program work, you will want to learn the estimating compliance requirements of the carriers that you want to work with so that you can develop a working relationship with them. There are requirements and then there are nuances. Contractors who have poor execution of initial estimate components, such as opening statements, structure and flow of an estimate, and labeled photographs lead to breakdown in communication of the story of the loss. This is basic stuff for restoration contractors, yet it is often someone else’s fault. If an adjuster doesn’t understand the story you are telling, learn to be a better storyteller. The blame game is NOT The DYOJO Way. Have your tantrum and get it together. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it.
Response: Develop better habits, starting with attention to details. Learn to become a better claims storyteller.
Resource: The Format for Fire Damage Restoration Estimates discusses how to approach and structure your estimate for these complex projects.
Common Xactimate Estimating Issue Three
Xactimate line items have a basic description and then a detailed breakout, it is clear that many who use the program don’t read either. A lack of clarity regarding proper use of line items relevant to the claim is a common source of back and forth between the parties involved in an insurance claim. You can also use this as a good negotiating tool, whenever there is a rejection, ask the reviewer, “Which line items are not in compliance or have not been thoroughly explained?” As Chris Stanley shared on Episode 38 of The DYOJO Podcast, people in a position of leadership should develop structure and cheat sheets for their teams. Chris reminds contractors that everyone has a boss and a box, if you can help the adjuster work within their box you may find mutually beneficial ground. Do as much as you can within the box and then work with the parties involved in the claim to determine an agreed course of action for those items that don’t fit neatly in the box.
Response: Skills development through research, peer to peer counseling, and consistent training will help adapt systems so that everyone is learning from prior rejections.
Resource: Habits of Xactimate Estimating Success discusses those items that will help you to operate at your best and stand above your competition.
Common Xactimate Estimating Issue Four
Each time you get rejected, it should be a learning experience and to the best of your abilities ensure that you don’t get rejected for that same item again. Unless, like myself, you like to push buttons. Assuming you have learned from issues one through three so that you have a consistent estimating structure, you understand the rules of compliance (even if you don’t always follow them) and you know your line items, the next issue is documentation. Poor illustrative support for proposed scope of work will sink your otherwise functioning ship. This ties into the series we did for The Intentional Restorer titled Garbage In, Garbage Out, which reminds managers that we cannot expect our teams to hold a standard that we don’t follow. Telling the story of the loss is a company wide commitment and everyone must learn to master their roles and responsibilities.
Response: As you develop your story telling abilities, make sure your stories are packed with good pictures, supporting documentation, and thorough communication.
Resource: The DocuSketchers shares interviews with three insurance claim professionals who use this resource to assist in their documentation and estimating process.
Common Xactimate Estimating Issue Five
If you are frustrated with the claims review process, you are not alone. If you don’t like someone looking over your shoulder and you take it personally when you get rejected, you should not be doing program (aka preferred vendor) work as a contractor. Yet, even if you are independent, you still have to tell your story well and be prepared to defend your narrative. The claims process requires you to clearly communicate, using the tools of the trade, and defending your proposed scope of work. As Ken Larsesn says, you should speak for the structure, and master Andy McCabe’s approach, “Thickest file wins.” In contrast, if you are making up scope you are in dangerous territory and it will bite you in the end. If you are not supporting your claim narrative, your plan will get picked apart. Capture the details, be accurate and thorough in your presentation, and learn to master the skill of claims negotiation.
Response: Gather data that will inform decisions so that progress (one of the Four Pillars of Success for Intentional Restorers) can be made. Invest in soft skills development for your team in the same (or greater) measure as you do for technical skills (which also should be high).
Resource: Help! Claims Review Shredded My Estimate discusses the process of helping yourself and your team develop a better approach to claims rejections.
Jon Isaacson, The Intentional Restorer, is a 19 year veteran of the property restoration industry and a business coach through his organization The DYOJO.