Ask Annissa: How Can I Handle Difficult Adjusters?
This negotiating that some adjusters do is simply not OK in my book
I have been in this industry for 14-plus years and I can happily say I have never negotiated or settled for anything less than payment in full for all services rendered when getting a check from an adjuster.
I know that there are adjusters out there that try to squeeze restoration contractors down on their bill and it just floors me. They certainly would never take their car in for an oil change and then after it is all done offer them 30% less than the price they were quoted for the service. This negotiating that some adjusters do is simply not OK in my book. And here are some things that you can do to keep this kind of situation from happening to you:
First, you really need to be using Xactimate for all of your invoicing. This is the most widely used program by restoration companies and insurance companies, as it has been long established as a pricing standard in our industry. Since the majority of insurance companies do use this pricing standard and agree with it, it is a little more difficult for an adjuster to argue with you about your price.
The other thing you can do from the start is have good, solid communication about what needs to be done on the job and make sure that you and the adjuster are on the same page before the job even starts. If something comes up, like an unexpected charge of $2,000 for moving a pool table to clean the floor, this would warrant a phone call to the adjuster to give them a heads up. If you say nothing until they see the bill, you risk them getting upset - and the next thing you know, they are picking your bill apart and arguing about cost.
Whatever you do don't take it personal if an adjuster starts playing “let’s make a deal” or asks you what your real bottom line is on an invoice. Adjusters have a tough job and they are taken advantage of every day by unscrupulous contractors adding air movers and boxes to pad their invoices hoping to get a little unwarranted bonus on a job. And I do know that there are some not-so-nice adjusters as well that don't seem to appreciate all of your hard work and try to squeeze every dollar they can out of your check before giving to you. Now I am not OK’ing this behavior nor making excuses for them - I am just trying to help you see things from a different perspective so you can be better equipped to deal with this when it comes up.
Bottom line is if your bill is done correctly, turned in timely, billed using industry guidelines and all work has been authorized by the adjuster and/or the insured, then your bill is due to be paid in full. And you should not settle for anything less. And if your adjuster is trying to negotiate with you, explain all of this to them and let them know that your bill is your bill period. If necessary, you may need to have a conversation with the homeowner as well. Let them know what the situation is. Just remember to be tactful and try to resolve the situation with grace.
How you handle this, and the decision to settle if you so choose, is ultimately yours. But I will warn you - if you settle for less on an invoice it can be a slippery slope. If you settle for less once with a particular adjuster, you could be setting a precedence that may come back to haunt you.