Thursday, September 1, 2016

Ladder Assist Workers Gorging on the Work Opportunities Typically Reserved for the Independent Claims Adjuster

If you happen to be among the group of Property Adjusters who believe that Ladder Assist industry is not gaining a foothold and gobbling up roof inspection claims assignments in this country then it is time to take a closer look.   
Ten years ago we had one Ladder Assist company and that was run by Pilot for Allstate Ins but today we have: 
Assist All, Austin SW Ladder Assist, Camco, Certified Ladder Assist, Cornerstone, Delta Claims Svs, First Choice Ladder Assist, GRIP, Hancock Claims Consultants, KMK, Ladder Assist Pro, Ladder Assist Team, Ladder Now, Manta, Maxus, Miller Enterprises, MT Ladder Assist, Property Medic, Southern Roof Tops, Superior Ladder Assist, TruLine Roof Consultants 
…and more throwing their hat into the ring every day. 
Facts are that the climate for the growth of these service organizations could not be more perfect: 
Fact # 1 – The days of the 4/12 Ranch style houses are dead and no longer a part of the modern housing construction industry. 
Like it or not, the simple but simple 4/12 pitched Ranch style home roofing system has now been surpassed by mega pitched architectural masterpieces that now dominate the modern housing construction industry.  Shame on you (and me) for the foolish assumption that shedding water would always be priority #1 with respect to roof system design because today’s priority is all about catering to the uneducated masses who want the curb appeal that these cut-up leak monuments provide.  
Fact # 2 – Fear is a crippling condition which can impair judgment that facilitates mistakes that can initiate a fall. Acrophobia (the fear of heights) is the most common form of irrational fear found amongst humans. Many might argue the fact that the act of falling is not irrational at all to which I would agree hower, fear for the sake of being at height alone while in control defaults to the category of a legitimate phobia.    
It is important to note that all people are NOT created equal with respect to both their comfort level and inherent god given abilities for working at height. Comprehensive Fall Protection Program strategy indicates that careful selection of your workforce is a critical requirement for limiting falls, something the Ladder Assist industry appears to do very well.  Property Adjusters are scrutinized on many different levels to determine the depth of their claims handling skills however, not for their inherent abilities to work at height. 
Fact # 3   Liability for personal injuryinaccurate work product and the damage that can be caused from steep roof inspection process itself is costly and requires more than a ready, fire, aim management strategy.  
Ladder Assist organizations manage their liability in several different ways: 
For liability resulting from federal and state OSHA laws they use an independently contracted work force that is required to provide their own individual LLC. This is required for the simple reason that if you own your own companyyou are your own employee and therefore exempt from OSHA 1926.5 regulation for providing fall protection. Furthermore, many LA organizations also require their workers to provide their own workman’s comp insurance. 
For liability resulting from damage to property, LA organizations require each independently contracted worker provide their own two million dollar liability policy that specifically names and protects LA organization in the event of an incident. 
For liability resulting from work product the LA companies guarantee that all information on the roofing system will be gathered from the roofing system then reviewed for compliance prior to being handed over to insurance adjuster… 

My ultimate goal here is to stress the point that if the IA industry as a whole does not develop and implement a comprehensive managed fall protection program that: 
  1. Recognizes real Rope Access training is very different than “Sport Climbing” based training. An important detail when you consider the fact that most IAs are employees and "Sport Climbing" gear and technique is not OSHA compliant at the local level in a growing number of states across the country. 
  1. Identifies those select workers within their ranks who have the appropriate physical and psychological attributes to successfully limit company liability and the liability of the Carriers they serve. 
  1. Appropriately solicits, hires and cultivates a high angle service component that recognizes and rewards those capable workers who are willing to accept the risks of high angle roof inspection. Rewarding appropriately trained and capable workforce by saddling them with more responsibilities at the same or lower pay rate as other Property Adjusters WILL NEVER appropriately incentivize an effective program and allow it to take hold. 
…… then they will continue to see Ins Carrier based work opportunities get outsourced around them to the Ladder Assist organizations that appear to be here to stay...

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Rope & Harness "Certification" is probably the most misused term in the Property Claims industry.

Rope & Harness Trainings were first offered to staff adjusters around 20 years ago by individual Ins. Carriers and to Independent Adjusters around 2004 by a company named K-Squared Catastrophe Svs. that later became Catastrophe Career Specialties LLC who today are known under the company name of Reality Rope Access LLC. Around 2008, Rope & Harness “Training” also started to be offered to Independents by Eberl, Pilot, CATI, AI Tech, Pacesetters, Adjuster Academy of Texas and Vale following the Ins. Carrier request that claims overflow vendors deliver a percentage of their workforce with formalized R&H training. All programs mentioned are beneficial (i.e. certainly better than no R&H training at all) yet make no mistake, some programs are without question much better than others.

In order for any training process to be officially recognized as a "Certification" it must be based on a declared set of standards or features. Such declarations are mandatory for delivering critical information to potential employers pertaining to the capabilities of those they “Certify”.

No intelligent person would buy an automobile based only on the information that it is simply an automobile. Most would want the details of horsepower, fuel consumption, towing capacity, public road compliance and safety features…. But then again most consumers of this product know that such details are important while those shopping for the most return on a R&H class simply do not.

Today, ANYONE can offer “Rope & Harness Certification Training” HOWEVER, as of Aug 23rd 2016, only one has went through the trouble of removing the mystery of what that actually means.

 Asking Eberl, Pilot, CATI, AI Tech, Pacesetters, Adjuster Academy of Texas and Vale "What Standards are Your Rope & Harness Certification Based on?" will only produce a short sales narrative that includes the words “Good” “Safe” and maybe even “Worthwhile” however, most people do not have the background education to comprehend what exactly these programs actually are:

1)   Based loosely on a “Sport Climbing” Model and have no affiliation to the professional worldwide Fall Protection OR Rope Access community

2)   Undeclared or No declared set of standards for training, equipment, ethics, completeness or comprehension of critical skills

3)   100% attendance to pass ratio that enhance the likeliness of injury for those with health or height phobia related issues that make them a poor candidate limiting employer liability

4)   Most instructors have not completed any formalized training in Fall Protection, Rope Access or EVEN Sport Climbing

5)   AND MOST IMPORTANTLY……No compliance with OSHA or ANSI which is rapidly becoming extremely important in more and more states like Washington that requires full state OSHA (not just Federal OSHA) fall protection compliance for all employees EVEN Claims Adjusters that are otherwise exempt under Federal OSHA laws (Ask Mark Harter, Vice Presedent of Operations at Worley Co. about the cost of non-compliance on just a handful of adjusters on a single cat assignment)

In conclusion, I would say to read and consider all the feedback you can about R&H training for pitched roofing systems, even those that would have you believe  it is “simply a matter of common sense”, “can be learned with a visit to any REI / Sport Climbing retail store” should be purchased “based on the size vendor” or “cost of the class”……just remember that the Insurance Carriers know a thing or two about risk and their position on the subject is that any slope that is two story or greater than a 7/12 pitch is not safe for the average adjuster to inspect……….SO………..what would make you think that what is not safe for everyone else would somehow be safe for you???

For more information on Rope Access Standards for pitched roof access please take the time to educate yourself at Not just the best information on this subject, it is the ONLY attempt at establishing ethical standards for “First Man Up” pitched roof specific fall protection standards.