Dealing with PAs and Contractors: Adjustments in Life Podcast (S 2 E 2)

In this episode, Alan and co-host Jason Dyson answer our first mail bag question of the 2022 calendar year. The guys break down the questions presented and explain, after years in the industry, how easy it can be to work with and understand working daily with aggressive contractors or public adjusters. If this is something you have been struggling with or want some insight on these types of situation before you have to approach them, then this is the episode for you!


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Alan Olson: All right, we’re back folks again to the Adjustments in Life podcast and it’s Jason and I back in the studio again. How are you doing?

Jason Dyson: Doing great, Alan. How about you?

Alan: I’m doing really good man and just enjoying getting this year rolling and getting to reach out to people and talk about this stuff and the topics that we have and we have some mail we need to get to today.

Jason: Love mailbag, dude.

Alan: Yes, sir.

Well, hey, a listener from Baltimore, Maryland, send us an email and he has some questions for us. It’s kind of one big long question.

I read it when the email came through and I started thinking there’s probably a lot of adjusters out there thinking the same thing and kudos to this gentleman for stepping up and asking the question, and so I’m pretty happy to talk about it. Let me read you the question.

OK, so he writes, “First of all, do we have to do with the contractors in Pas tell us is the right way to do something?”

OK. Then he goes on to say, “Can we disagree with the repair methods when we think what we did is proper and they have a different idea?”

OK and then he follows up with, “How do I deal with this when they meaning the contractors and the PAs pretend to be or are actually much more educated in the repair process that I’m in?”

Jason: I think it’s a great question and there’s– That scenario is likely a scenario you find yourself in multiple times, almost every time when dealing with

Alan: Yes, I agree.

Jason: PAs and contractors.

Alan: Yes. OK.

We can go a lot of directions answering these questions but we’re going to break it down and do each question at a time but first, before we start answering the question, I’m going to ask a question back to the listener because I want to know, first of all, what’s your role as the adjuster in this?

Jason: Correct.

Alan: Depending on the carrier, what are you responsible to do?

Jason: Right.

Is this a full assignment? Is it task assignment? Some carriers, you don’t have authority to do anything.

Alan: That’s right.

Jason: Some carriers want you to get a quote, agreed scope, some very few anymore want an agreed price but if your responsibility with your client is not even discussed scope, then this is a moot point.

Alan: That’s right. This isn’t even– It’s not even a discussion we really need to have because it’s not anything you’re going to be responsible to address in the claims process.

Jason: Exactly and especially when you’re in this– In the position of not having to discuss scope but even when it’s tried to get an agreed scope, not an agreed price, which is more than likely the scenario that most of us are going to find ourselves in.

If you don’t have the authority to discuss and negotiate, then you can be open and honest with that PA or contractor whoever you’re meeting with that. I don’t have the authority to discuss any of that with you.

Alan: Sure.

Jason: And understand where your responsibilities lie when you go out in the field and meet with these people. When you’re meeting with them and you’re walking through that house and they’re pointing out to you every little crack coming off the corner of a window and you’re there for a toilet overflow claim.

Then you know that’s absolutely cracks and nothing to do with the water from the toilet. I have always told New adjusters or any adjuster for that matter.

Sure, document it. Take the pictures of that room, take the pictures of those cracks, anything they want to point out to you just nod your head, yes sir. Yes, ma’am, and take the pictures and do not argue. Don’t say, “That’s not related.”

Alan: That’s right.

Jason: Just acknowledge document and move on, document your entire claim and even if you are in a position where you have the authority and they want you to discuss scope, let alone price, when you’re finally done, and you’ve completed your entire scope, now, when you’re, let’s say, in the driveway ready to leave, and you’re having that exit discussion with that person, you can say, “OK, we’ve documented the damage from the toilet overflow.

I’ve got damage to this room in this room and drywall and all the stuff that you’re covering, and then you can address all the other stuff in one fell swoop and say all the other stuff except for what I just mentioned, is not something related to this event.

Alan: That’s right.

Jason: Now, you’re going to have an argument one time and you’re done outside.

If you immediately tell that somebody, No, when you’re doing that walkthrough, you’re going to be on site for hours and hours and you’re going to be arguing the entire time you’re on site. Nod your head, acknowledge it, you need to document what they’re pointing out for the file.

Anyways, I asked them to show me everything that they want to be documented, I want to document all of it and you’re going to take a ton of photos, just know that from the get go document everything and then if you have to have that discussion, have it one time.

Alan: Well, I think another thing that’s going to do to benefit them is that if you start getting into a well, that’s covered, that’s not covered type of argument early on, you’re going to lose your train of thought of the inspection process that you’re trying to do and trying to achieve and then you’re going to end up getting everything photographed, except for the things that you really need done.

Jason: And I also tell people proceed with great caution. When you start talking about in the field, what is covered and not covered.

Alan: I agree.

Jason: I very rarely– Am I ever going to make a coverage call in the field because I don’t have a copy of that policy with me.

Alan: May not need a copy. They’re not needed, depending on it is, we know settlements not covered. Well, that particular client may have a little bit of suddenly coverage built in their policy, maybe endorsement or whatever.

Alan: Referring to foundation settlement.

Jason: Exactly. There may be something there. Talking what’s covered and not covered without being able to look at it in the policy, that can get you in trouble.

Alan: Yes and again, I think the gist of this is understanding what your job is when you go there.

Jason: Sure.

Alan: If you are operating with a carrier that says you’re responsible to settle this estimate on site, OK.

That could bring up to questions there too because are you responsible to reach an agreed settlement and complete the claim on site? Or are you just obligated to let the insured or the contractor know what you’re submitting?

Jason: Sure.

Alan: That could go in a different direction too but do you even have the authority to speak of what you’re submitting on your report, that’s what we’re getting at.

Jason: Sure, and exactly, just know what the gist of this whole portion was, know your role, know what you have the authority to discuss and not discuss, most clients probably don’t want you discussing money regardless,

Alan: Most of them today. I mean, there are a few left that we’re still settling for or coming to some type of an agreed scope of repairs, if it’s feasible but more and more are leaning in the direction of letting the desk adjuster handle that and once they get the report back from us.

Jason: Or it comes back as a re inspection and they want you to try to and then they start giving you authority and that’s reduction.

Alan: That’s right.

Jason: Please go reach agreed scope of repairs. If you get one that comes back and says the desk adjuster asking you to get an agreed cost with the contractor and that’s not in your normal guidelines with that client, I would highly recommend reaching out to your manager and saying this is what I’m asked to do.

Alan: That’s right.

Jason: I really want me to do that.

Alan: And then if that’s the case, then they’re extending you the authority to attempt to negotiate that short.

Now that doesn’t– That still doesn’t give you the authority to commit to coverage but that gives you the ability to attempt to reach right an agreed cost.

Jason: Even on the clients that I have authority to discuss money with. It’s all at the end of the day when I discuss the money. OK, this is my recommendation to certify and to review and approval. That is not we’re sending you an a check for $11,257. It’s this is what I’m recommending.

Alan: That’s right.

OK, so to answering the question, first of all, again, what’s your role? What are you there to do? Because you before you start dealing with this contractor or this PA and start arguing or having to relay release any information to him, you need to know if you’re qualified to do that, or if the carrier’s giving you the authority to do so.

There is no argument that’s right and it’s just going to make it easier on the adjuster. Shall we just show up? We do our thing. Do we have to do what the contractors and PDAs tell us is the right way? Well, to answer this question–

Jason: First of all, I want to know what makes you think that they know the right way.

Alan: That’s right.

Jason: Why is it the right way?

Alan: OK, well, to me, first of all, I’m– I have some construction background and that would be my first question.

Do you– As an adjuster, are you qualified to say, what is the right way? And what’s not the right way based off of experience of construction?

OK, I’m going to say I’m going to I’m going to throw a stone out in the middle of the pasture and say that probably 80% of the adjusters entering the field of adjusting right now, don’t have a background like I had a background in construction.

OK. Do you have the ability to say if your way is the right way? Or their way is the right way? Probably not but do you have a manager or another seasoned adjuster to go to confirm that information?

Jason: Sure, and don’t ever be afraid of saying, I’m not sure about the answer that question and reach out to your network, whether it be management, whether it be industry, people, if you’re talking about a roofing material, maybe you need to call a supply house and find out if that cereals made anymore, maybe you need to reach out to a flooring company or whatever, don’t be afraid to acknowledge what you don’t know.

Alan: That’s right. That’s right.

Jason: Don’t be afraid to reach out acquire that knowledge.

Alan: That’s right and then along with that, guys, we’re there to identify damage caused by a specific peril. Correct?

We’re not expected to be construction experts. We’re not expected to know everything it takes to disassemble and put together a home or whatever, we’re whatever is being claimed damage to, we’re expected to have a general knowledge of it, we’re not expected to know everything there is.

It is OK to say you know what, like you said, I don’t have the answer to that question but I do know where I can get the answer to that question and that’s the way I’ll properly prepare my report and–

Jason: And hear the contractor or PL, give them the opportunity to explain why they feel it should be done exactly their way. Maybe once they get done explaining, you’re like, that makes total sense.

That’s right and now you can take that information and explaining your narrative, why you’re veering out of the normal and the normal, whether it be guidelines, or normal methods, you can explain logically why you’re veering from that and 99% of the clients I know I have no problem with that, if I can properly explain what I’m doing.

Alan: That’s right.

In an example of that would be when undamaged areas need to be removed and replaced in order to properly repair the damaged area.

Jason: Exactly, and also if you give them the opportunity, and they explain why they want to do it, and it makes no sense?

Now you can for lack of better terms, I call it kill them in your report, you can say I asked them why this needs to be done this way and this was the answer that I received and it does nothing but support your.

Alan: That’s right

Jason: Reasoning of astonishing of again, you need to be able to coherently explain why you’re doing it the way that you’re doing it not just this is what the client told me to do. Well, why are you doing it that way?

Alan: That’s right and in any direction you go, a reasonable explanation of how you came up with your results can be valid. You just again, depending on if you have the authority to get into that position on the estimate.

Jason: It’s all about, making sure that you as the adjuster are qualified to be able to make those decisions and if you’re not qualified, that’s OK.

 You need to know what you don’t know and not be afraid to reach out to an outside resource to confirm what you’re saying is correct. What they’re saying is correct. How do I do this correctly? What is the industry norm for doing this? That’s right, and be able to step outside of it.

Alan: I can guarantee you if you’re in that position and you reach out to your manager and say, Hey, I’m a little inexperienced on this, and this is what they’re telling me, is this accurate?

There’s going to be somebody that can jump in there and review your estimate with you and go they’re a little out of proportion here or No, no, they’re actually pretty accurate. You missed this one. Yes, absolutely.

Jason: And, don’t be afraid to be wrong. Here. I’m out. I have had plenty of times, even in the latter part of my career have one somebody explained it to me, that makes sense. I get what you’re doing.

Alan: Now, that’s right. I’ve been there too, had many times that once I got that information, this kind of a hard concept to understand is set down in here out the contractor because we tend to immediately want to back off from the contractors and PDAs and go well, they’re just trying to blow it up both not all the time.

They may have a legitimate reason or depending on this specific type of building material. Tts could change things and some of that is sometimes can be, what would you do if it was your home kind of deal.

Jason: Understand that and sometimes maybe it is just simply them fluffing an estimate but unless you ask why you want to do it this way,–

Alan: That’s right, you can put in writing that you asked that question and this was the answer they gave you, you’re not able to properly defend your actions. That’s right, of why you agree to disagree did not well.

No different than, well, I guess it’s kind of lays along the same lines as you went outside the guidelines. That’s OK. That can happen long as you have a legitimate reason why you went there and you can properly document

Jason: In order to document it because I’ve had plenty of times where guys had great reasoning for going outside the guidelines, their files rejected, they call me when I was their manager and said, hey, they kick this file back to me take a look at it, and like, OK, tell me about it and they tell me about it and I read their loss report and I’m like, That’s a great explanation. You didn’t put any of that in your loss report?

Alan: Yes, that’s right. That’s right.

OK, so answering the second part of the question, this individual says, Can we disagree with the methods of repairs that we think is proper versus what they think so? Yes, absolutely. Absolutely and here’s why there’s more than one way to skin a cat.

OK. There’s a multitude of different methods of construction that are all right, every one of them is a right way to do it, there’s no wrong way to do it is as long as you have a an explanation of why you felt this way was more beneficial.

We’re not always building something brand new, where the pattern is the same all the way through all the way through, every home is different. Every material is different, every damage is different and there’s different things.

Jason: Things regionally to there’s things you’re going to see in Florida, that you’re not going to see in much right answer and asking that question to that public adjuster or that contractor of why do you need to do it this way can address that question of OK, there, you do have to do new re nail that decking or you do have to seal tape that decade, whatever it may be.

Again, it just goes back to what we explained on the first one is that a lot of times there is an explanation.

Alan: That’s right. I know I have found that, especially when I was really traveling a lot to a different a lot of different areas, frequently, the different codes, different requirements in the different regional areas, like you said, throughout the country may require that and I wasn’t aware of that and there’s contractors telling me Well, I got to do all this stuff and I’m going no, that’s not necessary.

Why would we do that? Well, turns out code required it right. That’s, that’s an easy thing to overcome, because you can get the information for code whenever you need it but those are small things. It’s an easy thing to think about, hey, that if I didn’t ask that wire, why would we do that?

Well, the contractor says, well, because it’s required by code, well, then I would have cheated him out of that information, or I’d have had to deal with a supplement later only cheated the homeowner. That’s right.

So little tidbits of information to make you think about, OK, maybe they do have a legitimate reason why I’m getting the supplement for all these items, or why they’re telling me we’ve got to have this on here.

Jason: Right and don’t get us wrong, maybe there’s not a legitimate reason to–

Alan: Well, that that’s very accurate. I think I probably have gotten as many supplements for things that weren’t necessary. As things that are in overtime, you’re going to learn to depict those things out immediately when you open up stuff, especially if you’re working a lot of claims in your home territory.

Jason: Yes and kind of going back to what we talked at what I mentioned earlier about not getting in a million arguments, when you’re dealing with this as a supplement, I’ll try to take both estimates, and I’m going to look through them a little bit and see where our main difference and you’re probably going to find right away areas you can add.

Sure and I’m going to I’m before we even start the walk around and started dressing it, I’m going to go to the tailgate and put both of them down and say, right off the bat, I see this, this, this and this, I’m going to add these things. It does a couple things. First of all, it acknowledges, Hey, we’re going to work together and we’re going to go both ways.

There’s going to be some things I’m going to say yes to, there’s going to be some things I’m going to say no to but right off the bat, I see I can add this, this, this, this and this. Yep and that just takes a lot of the hostility out of the environment, and both parties can understand. Let’s go we’re going to try to work together on this.

Alan: Sure.

And that’s can play a huge part in how well your supplements go.

Jason: And they may when you also address it with that it’s easier for there to be a given take to that’s right.

Alan: I think that sometimes, especially an adjuster that’s not as well seasoned tends to be standoffish feel like maybe they’re going to get taken advantage of based off of stories or whatever they’ve heard by contractors or other adjusters, being around aggressive contractors or even a PA but the thing is, is damages or damages to claims claim the process is the same all the time.

It’s just a matter of here’s what I can legitimately give you here’s what you really only and.

Jason: Again, even if you don’t have the experience to go toe to toe and have an argument with a public adjuster or a contractor of supporting your estimate, you don’t have to do that.

That’s right, go out there, hear him out, I want to document anything you want to show me take a million photos, listen to everything they want to say, the biggest deal is commit to nothing. That’s right, commit to nothing and they will may put you on the spot, what are you going to do about

Alan: They’re going to push you every time to try to get you to say, here’s what you’re going to get, even if you even if you do have authority, and you’re choosing not to and that’s another thing that we didn’t really well, you did get into it but if you’re not comfortable, even just—

Even if you have the authority to settle it, you have the authority to make an agreed cost of repairs, and you’re just not comfortable with being or having that discussion face to face.

Jason: Don’t write exactly, don’t commit to anything, that’s the biggest thing, especially unless you’re 100% certain that you’re that it’s correct, and, and you have the authority to make that commitment.

Do not be afraid to just stop and say, I don’t have the authority to do that. Or I am not going to commit to anything today, I want to hear everything that you want to tell me regarding this loss, I want to document everything you want to show me and I want you to explain where our differences are.

That’s right and don’t be afraid to just be as blunt as that be nice about it. Let’s surely nice but don’t be afraid to set it out there and tell them right up front. I’m committing to nothing.

Alan: I agree totally.

OK. So let’s get to the last part of this question. OK, it because he writes, How do I deal with this when they pretend or much more educated in the repair process? A

gain? Are you confident in who you are and what you’re doing on the job?

OK, that’s number one. You don’t have to know everything there is to know but you have to be confident about how you’re going to handle yourself, and the decisions that you’re going to make of how you’re going to what process you’re going to do when you get there to be able to defend it.

Jason: If you’re confident, and you have the authority to tell them? Yes, no, here’s what we’re doing. Here’s not what we’re doing.

If you’re confident, you don’t have to agree, you can tell them Well, I don’t agree with your methods, I’m going to document what you want to do and why you want to do it. I don’t agree with it and we can leave it at that and there doesn’t really have to be a big argument after that.

I’m not going to engage with somebody and get in a knockdown drag out argument. Well, I’ll hear you at all, if you don’t, you don’t have to, I’m going to hear them out and if I have the authority to argue with them, they’re going to hear me out, we’re going to concede and try to work together and make concessions where we can but if I don’t argue, if I don’t agree with you, I don’t agree with you and I don’t mind saying that politely but it’s also my duty to explain in my file their side.

That’s right. What– How they’re saying and explain my side, and clearly explained both of them to oftentimes the communicate the problem is the lack of communication of why and what you’re doing that’s right to the client.

Alan: That’s right and I encourage you, if you’re battling, or you’re struggling with getting that information from your contractor or from your PA express to them, Look, I have an obligation as much for you to explain your needs, as I do, of why I’m doing the things the way I’m doing it. S

So the more information you can give me that I can put in the file to explain why you want it this way, the better opportunity or the better chances you’re going to get of getting it the way you want. Right?

Jason: Because even if you don’t agree with him, I can still document in the file, why they want to do this, why I don’t agree and somebody above my paygrade may say, Nope, do what they want to do. That makes sense.

Alan: That’s right.

That’s a key ingredient to fulfilling the documentation needed in the file and giving everything to the people that are going to make the final decisions before a check gets written and I can testify I have even though I highly disagreed with the contractor.

I have had file reviewers and managers above me say, hey, you know what, I have to agree with him this time. I think that that’s probably a better way to do it. Go ahead and write the estimate according to the way he wants it.

Jason: Right and there may be more background, especially if it’s coming from a client. There may be more background to why they’re making their decision than simply construction methods.

Alan: Sure, sure.

There could be a wide variety of reasons why they end up the claim results in the way it results.

Jason: The biggest thing is if you’re on the fence about any of decisions making the decision don’t be afraid to not make a decision on site, capture the data, document the file, review it with your manager, and we can move on from there.

You can always call them back and go over it. It just boils down to unless you’re confident commit to nothing.

Alan: That’s right. That’s right and don’t be ashamed to just say, I don’t know right now, I’ve got to get this. I’ve got to refer it to somebody that can help me make that decision.

Jason: Again, whether that be your manager, whether that be roofing supply, House of flooring supply house up another contractor.

I’ve sent photos of a of a loss to another contractor, never addresses never names, never anything, or here’s what I got what we here’s what I’m thinking, and I’ve had him say, Yes, that’s right. Or no, actually, you need to do this and that aligned with what that peer contractor was saying and now I’m able to back up, OK, they what they’re saying makes sense.

Alan: That’s right. That’s right.

Well, hey, I think that we’ve been able to elaborate well enough on this.

Jason: I think the final, the just last piece of it would be understand, you’re sometimes you’re just not going to agree, period. Not all files in the day with an agreed scope. It, we would love for that to happen but there’s not a rainbow every single day.

That’s why there’s other methods and other avenues to move forward with. That’s right policies have appraisal processes that there’s a there’s other avenues to go down and a lot of times, especially when it’s a file represented by a public adjuster that’s going to be inactive and understand some times and this is becoming more and more prevalent.

Sometimes you’re never going to get any agreement from a public adjuster, because their entire reason for being there is to go to appraisal. That’s right. I literally been on a claim where I went out and inspected the claim with a public adjuster. The public adjuster never even got out of their car. I went out and told them did my thing said Go ahead, do your thing.

Did my thing came back and said, Sir, there’s I didn’t find any damaged anything. OK. Yes and they were as nice as can be and after about the third time of meeting with them as the first gesture and as a adjuster.

I finally asked one of the gentlemen, I said, You are the easiest public adjuster I’ve ever dealt with on a claim, and I don’t see how you’re staying in business. He said, Well, I’m not going to try to be rude to you but just to explain it to you, you’re simply a hurdle of where what I need to do to get where I want to be. I said, Really, he said, we know we’ve got to file a claim and have an inspection.

We know they’re going to want to do a re inspection. So I don’t care what happens during the inspection and re inspection as long as I can get into the appraisal room.

Alan: That’s right. That’s where they’re going to be able to argue out what they want really want argue.

Jason: Exactly and they’re arguing with parties that have probably a lot more authority.

Alan: Yes, and I would venture also to say that at that point, they’re not really concerned about scope of work. They’re worried about an overall estimate and $1 amount.

That’s what they’re trying to get to pass the scope to the dollar amount. Yes, well, I hope that that brings some light to your answer on this question to the listener that sent in the email. Really, that’s the best way I know how to explain it at this point in time.

Jason: Yes, I think all you can do again, is just don’t commit, be confident. Don’t be afraid to say I don’t know and move forward with it. Work with your managers and you can get through, you know that PA is out there to do a job just like you and that’s right and please.

Guys, please, whether it’s a public adjuster, contractor, homeowner, roofing salesman, water mitigation doesn’t matter. Don’t beat him up until it’s time to be less, right.

Alan: That’s right. You try to work with them as much as you can.

Jason: There’s no reason to be a jerk to a contractor or public.

Alan: Now and I started to get into something and I think we’ll save it for another podcast but there is a distinct difference in working with a contractor and working with a PA and working with a roofing salesman.

That’s correct. That’s right. So maybe look for that in another in another episode where we’ll break those three out and just in just in decipher the difference out between working with those three, but for now. It’s a little past lunchtime, and I’m ready to eat. How about you?

Jason: Let’s do this and hey, guys, please keep the mailbag full. Let’s keep these questions coming please. If you have any questions that maybe you’re wondering about and need an answer to or just curious about please, by all means drop us a line.

Alan: We want those to go to That’s While you’re at it, check out the and look for the new 2022 class schedule to see what’s being offered on there for adjuster licensing and training. All Right, Jason. Well, let’s get out of here man. Thanks to you.

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