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Alan Olson: Welcome back again, folks. This is another wonderful episode of Adjustments in Life. I have my co-host in the studio again with me today, Mr. Jason Dyson.
Jason Dyson: Hello, Alan.
Alan: And we have a guest. This is a gentleman that I’ve had the privilege of assisting in helping getting started in the trade of adjusting and he actually got his very first deployment this fall primarily to the place that we’re going to be speaking about today and the event that took place this fall for our hurricane season.
I want to welcome on Mr. Cody Martin.
Cody Martin: Hey, guys. Yes, thanks for having me.
Alan: Hey, let’s wrap up the hurricane season because I think we’re probably going to be—Well, I think there’s a pretty good chance there. There could be something but it’s– We’re falling in that late fall. Temperatures are coming down. I don’t foresee a whole lot of activity developing. I know we still have another name on the list but it doesn’t. I don’t know if Wanda is going to make the show this year.
Jason: I think we’re done.
Alan: Yes. Let’s do a little either recap. What do you say?
Jason: Sure. Sounds good.
Alan: OK, so let’s first start about what was Hurricane Ida?
Jason: It is the big storm.
Alan: Big storm. That’s a big storm. Biggest hurricane we’ve had in a while.
Jason: Yes. Ida, the date of loss that we all looked at was August 29. That would have been Sunday and it made landfall 11:55 AM officially in Port Fouchon Louisiana as 150 mile an hour category for storm now. Now there’s some arguments about that, Alan.
Alan: Yes and what we’re hearing is the there’s been some reports coming in off some of the offshore rigs and whatnot. Some of the coastal locations that did maybe measure some winds above 150 miles an hour they’re saying.
Jason: Right to make it a category five and from what I understand they’re submitting documents to NOAA to get it declared a cat five at landfall. Don’t know what that changes, maybe something with FEMA or disaster relief. I don’t know why it would make a difference other than record books but as far as I know, right now is still officially a cat four.
Alan: Yes, I think maybe just– They just boils down to making sure they’re accurate. I don’t know there could possibly be some different types of programs that could fund, maybe based on intensity and level of hurricane but–
Jason: My question is those firms that have fee schedules tiered based on category of storm, if they come back and say that’s a five or everybody can get another check?
Alan: Well, I’m not going to hold my breath on that but that might be a question for the firms. We might have to make a few phone calls when this evaluation of the hurricanes over. OK, there’s another remarkable thing that we can point out based off of this. Not only was it one of the biggest hurricanes we’ve had a while it happened to have made landfall on the exact date of Hurricane Katrina almost. I mean same vicinity of the area just a little bit different location a little bit further to the west I believe. Then Katrina made landfall. I think Katrina went a little further east and you know Bay St. Louis area I think is actually where it made landfall.
From best I can tell the track came up through Port Fochon and then towards Houma, Tibideaux area wrapping up for a long time. It looked like it was going to hit Baton Rouge.
Jason: Yes, it skirted Baton Rouge and I know the Hammond Covington area took it pretty good and then it made its run up north and Interestingly, I know guys that were involved up in New England regarding Ida up there. It wreaked havoc up through the Northeast states.
Alan: Absolutely and from what I gathered, of course, you and I both, even Cody, who’s joining us today, we were all in Louisiana, but I know several guys that deployed to Tennessee and on up into the northeast, just from the– I think they had some record flooding from the rains in New York.
Jason: I–Personally, I did the same thing for Hurricane Ike, I got done wrapped up Gustaf in New Orleans and took off and worked Hurricane Ike in Louisville, Kentucky.
You just– You don’t know the extent it’s going to be. Those storms have to travel through and tail out somewhere. It’s just a good guess at what Mother Nature is going to do and where she’s going to take it from the point of impact, but extent of damages that occurred from this storm.
There was some areas we expected not to be as bad as what they were and I know from the areas that I worked in, there was a lot of areas I expected to be a lot worse than what they actually were. What particular areas did you work?
Jason: I mean, if I’m going first I specifically picked where I wanted to be. I did not want to be at Ground Zero. I didn’t want to be in the Laplace or the Grand Isle or any of the heavy hit stuff.
I went begin– I started off in Baton Rouge and Denham Springs and then down a little bit, Gonzales and Sorento area, strategically requested those areas for a particular reason and the damage wasn’t that bad.
My worst damage that I saw down there was if a tree fell on a house. I did a few of those and those were my bigger damage stuff. I did a few claims that were no damage.
They just filed a claim while they were evacuated because they wanted to get in line and there’s a reason why a lot of people filed claims, even if they knew it wasn’t going to reach their deductible.
If I don’t know if you want to get into why that is with the Louisiana hurricane deductibles being a calendar year deductible but I enjoyed working the smaller stuff and stayed up in those areas. Now, I did do a few down in Kynar and Destrehan, and there was a little more starter down in Destrehan but that’s the area that I stayed in. You were a little further more down.
Alan: Yes, I was closer to New Orleans. I primarily started out in that desperate hand Laplace area, maybe up and down the West Bank, I worked quite a few claims, but primarily I was down Kenner West and then I did get down into to Houma and Tibideaux, a little bit and when I say that was one of the areas I was surprised was wasn’t harder hit.
That’s primarily what I’m leaning towards is Tibideaux appeared to be by map one of the areas that I expected to be really hard hit and it really wasn’t as bad as what I anticipated.
When I got there, I saw more so wind damage in Laplace and Kynar actually, then the damage I ran into when I was down in Tibideaux. And I didn’t get all the way in into Houma proper.
But the outskirts areas of Houma did take on some heavy, sustained winds but it appears that a lot of the area is somewhat newly developed and so the homes took the sustained winds a lot better than what I anticipated.
And I think once you get moving up towards that West Side of New Orleans, maybe southwest side of New Orleans, some of those are– Some older communities that have been there for a while and so the building standards were probably a little less than what a lot of the houses.
I was dealing with and of course they carrier that you and I both were working their target audience is that first time homebuyer with a newer home so we didn’t get to see the less quality construction that develops over time of these older neighborhoods but overall the–
Again, the areas that I worked, the higher impacted areas I saw, again, was that Laplace area, not just from the flooding but they did see some pretty heavily sustained winds and in fact, a lot of the residents that stayed there spoke a lot about 125 mile an hour sustained winds for five to six hours is what they were saying.
Jason: Yes, and even the stuff that I was doing in Baton Rouge, talking to some of those people and they were saying how, the wind was just rolling that it was worse than that Gustaf for them at least. Gustaf was worse than Katrina and this was worse than Gustaf in regards to the wind speeds and how high of winds they were dealing with. Where were you at Cody, where was the bulk of your work?
Cody: Yes, it’s interesting.
I started off in Baton Rouge and then slowly move south and east as time ticked on, so even down towards like, Donaldsonville and Napoleanville and even to Tibideaux and then I ended up going towards New Orleans for a bit, and then pretty much south and east of there.
Lafayette and port sulphur is where I spent my last little bit and they were a lot harder hit, but it tinned with it seemed to be from the surge that came in. They dealt with both ends of the spectrum.
Matter of fact, one of them that I could not get access to, I finally got a call two days ago from the gentlemen. We’re talking October 17 and they just now had access back to his resident and that was down in Port sulphur.
They got hit pretty bad down there but again, a lot of it was from the floodwater surgeon and–
Alan: Jason and I, it’s the level that we have worked ourselves to in this career, we were able to see some of the writing’s on the wall. We were able to know what to expect, we had our game plan in place, we knew where we wanted to go, and we knew how to approach this.
Being brand new, you and I worked together. You had my lead to follow but give us a little bit of perspective of what it was like for you when the call came in, and it was time to go in and you’re approaching this massive event? What’s running through your mind, tell us what you were thinking at the time?
Cody: Yes, a lot of it for me is on the logistical side, just figuring out how to make things work, especially when you’re going into an area that’s been, impacted by a huge storm like that.
Having folks to lean on yourself included helps out greatly and it was a– The standard things, right where to stay, where we’re going to get food, fuel, things like that, and then on top of it being new in my mind, and this is probably an unrealistic thought,
But in my head, I’m thinking, OK, I’m going to go down here, I’m going to get all of these claims assigned to me and I’m going to show up and there’s going to be a slab there or some sticking out of the ground and I’ve got to figure out what’s going on.
I anticipated the damage to be much worse, I guess, on a larger scale, as opposed to, like Jason was saying earlier, some roof damage, maybe a tree down and, some interior water damage which was the overwhelming majority of what I had.
I had an unrealistic expectation in regards to how bad was going to be and is obviously bad for some people like that but in my mind, that was going to be every claim and I was going to as a new guy going to have to, I was going to go in there and every single one was going to be a huge estimate to write and things like that and that just wasn’t the case.
From that perspective, it was actually better for me, because I had set myself up for a worst case scenario, and it wasn’t that bad which was– It was a relief, right? It was a big relief. That was a big part of it, I didn’t feel was a problem.
I know for a little bit, for a lot of folks and so that was something that that had to be factored in as well. I didn’t anticipate it being as much of an issue and when you did find fuel, sometimes you had to wait for quite a while in line.
Obviously, people were trying to run generators and things like that. I hadn’t played that through it, I hadn’t been exposed to that at this point. That was interesting as well.
Alan: I know, you mentioned the logistics of all of this and again, you and I worked together throughout the storm but there was times even for Jason and I where it was the experience we have in kind of knowing what we were walking into.
We had to think about changing gears a couple times because the logistics we thought we were going to be able to accomplish all of a sudden came to a halt and we had to move in a different direction.
And I know that we had even discussed all three of us at one time prior to even leaving or even having claims that we were going to try to make the arrangements to find a place together.
And then at the drop of a hat Jason’s going in one direction, and we’re headed over there with nowhere to stay and we’ve got your camper and then we finally on the way over there.
We find the driveway to park in that’s got power and so the logistical struggle for these storms is 100% real.
I was blessed to have family in the area and family that were in an area that didn’t lose power and even more important they had gas stations with fuel.
I was doing a little bit of driving sure but I had a nice place to stay with internet and air conditioning and everything else but I know even on the drive over there, Alan and myself and a couple other guys were constantly on the phone and I’m trying to help them.
OK who needs to come crash where I’m crashing? And I’m trying to be on the phone with relative I’m going to stay with OK, I’ve got I’m going to have buddies. I don’t know who but there will be other people here.
Alan: Well, I know– I knew that you had obtained that and I know Cody and I made the decision we were going to drag his trailer along.
We didn’t know where exactly we were going to put it until we got about three hours from Baton Rouge and we got lucky enough that we had some people that we know from home that were able to set us up with a really, we ended up being a really good place to stay.
It wasn’t the most desirable conditions because he got really hot in the middle of the day.
Jason: It’s a hurricane. Yes. desirable place. I’m sorry.
Alan: But, I tried to set the best expectations up for Cody that I could and I think he told me before we left, I really don’t have any expectations and I think that’s the best expectations I could have set for him.
Wouldn’t you say Cody?
Cody: Yes, I mean, it was a– You’re going in for me it was like, playing pin the tail on the donkey because I had no standard to compare it to whatsoever.
With knowing that it OK, this is a area largely affected by natural disaster, people that live there and have all of the resources that they have at home available to them are still struggling, so I can’t expect my conditions to be any better than that.
My thoughts were, it’s going to be uncomfortable at best, but it but not as bad as what these folks are dealing with.
With that in mind, it was easier to go in there and just play it by ear. And I think one of the big things for me, being new with the takeaway was, hey, being flexible, and just being open to change is a really good thing.
And it helps you get things rolling quicker, because like you said, we didn’t even know where we’re staying three hours out from Baton Rouge, and a lot of things just kind of fell into place and networking and reaching out to people and like you guys, like Jason was just talking about, being on the phone with other folks that or that are in the area, I think that’s very important part of making these things work out for the best.
Alan: I agree 100% and you hit it right on the button with the networking thing and communicating and, that’s something more adjusters need to do is work together to help everybody out.
I mean, Jason and I try to lean on each other a lot. Just for the sake of– I know that when I’m looking somewhere trying to get something accomplished, he’s willing to do as much for me as I am for him and we make a lot of progress for each other to get there and get things accomplished.
And does it always work out these plans, elaborate plans, we come up with our mind 90% of the time. No, we have to we have to bounce other ideas around but especially in these types of hurricanes, this was not an easy event to get started in and, guys, realistically, this is every hurricane.
Jason: Yes, it’s– This was a very good, in my opinion, at least a representation of every other hurricane. I’ve worked. They’ve all been about the same change every logistics changing by the minute almost.
Alan: Yes, you– Look, you just don’t know. I mean, I can tell you right now, we all left to go over there. We all had claims in our hands or we’re about to get claims and 90% of the area’s still evacuated.
I mean, that doesn’t mean we– Sometimes you wonder, should we be going? Should we be leaving? But at the same time, if you’re not there trying to get moving, you’re doing yourself and your policyholders an injustice by not getting involved in moving forward.
Jason: That’s what we’ve always talked is just when you get that call, go. Yes. I mean, you try to think it through and set yourself up but just go, you’ll figure it out. I mean, I don’t know you just deal with the logistics as they come to you and lean on your friends.
I’m probably one of the biggest anti adjuster social media that 90% of what’s out there on Facebook and media, we were really not a fan of but I did see some good things on some of those Facebook pages and people helping and anybody know of a place here they are and I saw some finally not seeing the negative comments, but good, constructive information and it was it was very good to see that.
Alan: I did too. I have to agree with you on that point.
I tried to not just on my, on the pages for the adjuster guy, which I tried to do my best during that storm to keep the updated information out there that I could for adjusters to see but monitoring the other Facebook platforms.
I was impressed. There was a lot of people reaching out a lot of people offering help a lot of people offering places that they knew were available to the adjusters in the area that needed a place to stay.
There was a lot of good community effort I saw going on that I was very pleased to see that I hadn’t seen on a lot of those platforms in a while and in again, guys, we’re all out there for the same reason, we’re all wanting to do the best we can with what we’ve got to work with and all it takes is a little bit of courtesy from adjuster to adjuster to get that accomplished and in the end, we’re all going to benefit.
Jason: Cody, you’d mentioned that you went and started off in Baton Rouge, and I know you were deployed for one of the bigger IA firms in the industries, one of the big boys.
And I can’t help but think that maybe that helps set you up for success to start you off in a maybe lesser hit area before moving you down to the into some of the more difficult areas you were mentioning there.
Cody: Yes, I definitely think that’s true. Having the resources there, just like the help room to go in, especially for me, I had been working with Alan, and we had been getting into Xact domain, Xactanalysis and all that good stuff.
And then I show up, and I’m all of a suddenly using Symbility which I had never even looked at before, right, I’d never seen the platform. It was good to have those resources there to kick things off a little bit and to get me going in the right direction.
Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to use. So that was a wasn’t much of a stumbling block but being able to go in there every day and ask questions early on, and having the managers there really helped me out.
And then obviously, once I got further south and east, it wasn’t as convenient but at that point, I had picked their brains enough to where I could run on my own.
And then if there was something that popped up, just giving them a call was usually able to get the answer I was looking for so but I definitely for me, having that resource, and being able to take advantage of it was a huge benefit.
And I think it really got me going in the right direction and that kind of allowed me to venture further off from Baton Rouge as things kind of progressed.
Alan: What are some of the varieties of claims or extent, a variety of claims that you saw based off of the areas that you were working?
I know, for me, I saw some pretty heavy wind damage in the Destrehan area, Laplace area, but typically, when I got into some of the other areas I was in, it was just standard wind damage to the roof and some fences.
You were spread out over some of those areas, too but you also got an areas that I didn’t. What some of the extent of damages that you were seeing?
Cody: Yes, as I got further south and east, especially of New Orleans, then the wind damage was obviously a lot more significant based on what I was seeing early on, when I was up around, even, Baton Rouge down to like Donaldsonville and kind of some of those areas.
It was for me what I think of it as kind of your standard, no missing shingles, and, maybe a little bit of tree damage here, and there, maybe some more interior water damage a little bit but as I got down there, I had started seeing, missing sections of roof where the decking and everything’s gone and I hadn’t experienced that yet.
Starting to see some of that as you’re driving through neighborhoods and in my mind, I’m thinking, well, this, kind of what’s the magnitude going to be of the homes that I’m looking at, and it kind of progressed from there because it was a combination of the surge in the wind damage that I would see.
A lot of times I would show up being the new guy, and I would think, I mean, this whole place is just tore up and a lot of that was from the surgeon from flood damage.
Maybe the portion that I was actually responsible for was a lot less than I was initially thinking but yes, once I got down towards, like the love feet area again and even down towards Port Sulphur, there’s some pretty significant damage, spruce caved in, and things like that.
That was on the last probably week of my deployment. I’ve kind of had a few weeks ahead of time to build up to it but fortunately, those held off until the very end for me, but they definitely got a lot more significant in terms of what I was had been used to the first few weeks and in obviously, the people down there to a lot of those areas, they hadn’t really allowed them back in yet.
They didn’t even know like Jason was talking about earlier, they had filed these claims, and they didn’t even know what to expect.
When I talked to them, they couldn’t, they’re like, and I don’t know how bad it is, we just know, it’s going to be probably bad. That was the information and we were a lot of times I was seeing it for the first time when they were.
So they were just discovering the extent of it while I was on scene with them.
Jason: OK, so quick question, and we can all answer this. What was your biggest estimate you wrote?
Alan: My biggest estimate I wrote I think I’d have to go back and look, but I think the biggest estimate I wrote was about 62,000.
That was probably one of the most significant losses I had and that had tree wind, had a tree fall in the house and pretty heavy wind damage with it.
What about you, Cody?
Cody: My biggest one was just over 70,000 and some change. I think that was in the Tibideaux area.
It was a little it was standard roof damage to the house and but the main chunk of that was a shop slash garage that had just been completely destroyed, essentially, two story and the roof is completely gone second story is completely gone, a couple of walls were completely gone.
So that really drove up the cost a little bit. Dwelling had very minimal damage, the big scheme of things, but that secondary structure just got hammered.
That really kind of push things up a little bit but most of mine were way less than that.
Jason: I again, I kind of strategically stayed in the lesser damage. I don’t know, I think I had one tree on house that went a little over 40.
That was probably my biggest.
Alan: I’m going to back up a little bit because I did have one that got a little bit over 50 but it was just like Cody’s, it’s where they had a metal building in the backyard and it was it was all the way down on the ground and of course, that’s–
I love those because they’re easy to write up, why not? Makes it really easy to run those numbers up.
I’m going to let everybody answer this one too and then I got– I want to ask the last question, because that’s really, that was one of the most important things that I wanted to know when I hit it over there and wanted to achieve while I was there but so we all actually– I was– Cody was actually the first one to be done and pull out and then I followed behind, and then Jason followed behind me but Jason brought this up, what made you tap out? Or did you tap out?
Cody: Yes, mine was I they started drying up. I noticed the claims had– They’d started getting early on, they were dumping claims on me pretty regularly and then it was spread out a little bit and then, towards that third week, I was asking for claims, and they would they were just a handful at a time.
Mine ran out and I could probably have asked for more but they just weren’t coming in like the volume wasn’t coming in to where it made sense.
When it got to that it was just a little over, it was right at three weeks or just a day or two past three weeks is whenever I pulled the plug on it and left out of there.
Alan: Which– Really, for the size of this hurricane we’re looking at cat four nearly cat five making landfall.
I was really surprised to see us row a lot of us rolling out after three weeks. I mean, I was waiting for a two month long storm.
Jason: Cody, first storm, three weeks on the ground, how many claims you close?
Cody: I think I closed about– I should know the exact number on this. I think it was about 40 or so maybe it was a little bit more.
It’s about 45 I think total and but my first batch was about 25 claims and then once I worked through those, like I said, I was– I got a few more and then I was asking for a bit after that.
I was happy with it at first, and for anybody that’s new, like I had zero, I did not know how to schedule things out long term, if that makes sense.
If I was– when I got those first batch of claims, I didn’t know how fast I was going to be able to work through them. I was Uber conservative scheduling things out in terms of how many hours is going to do per day.
On the front end, and I think that was also by design a little bit because the managers, they didn’t want me getting in over my head where I couldn’t get stuff turned in.
The good thing about it is I I was able to finish things up much faster but I’d already scheduled all these claims out, over the course of whatever, 710 days, so then it was harder.
I found myself finishing up early but it was hard to backfill those dates and add stuff to make my days full to where it’s worthwhile.
Now knowing I feel like this storm, what is done for me outside of everything else I gleaned is like next time I move into one of these, I have a good baseline of how many claims I can handle per day and I think that’s going to let me be a lot more efficient in terms of what I’m able to produce out there.
It was on– My first week was light and then by the end, I was really– I was able to turn out some decent numbers for what I had expected in my mind.
Alan: Watching you do this and knowing they were holding you to a few restrictions in the in the first week, of course, which every new adjuster was being held to.
They didn’t want you doing more than one a day and so that slowed you down and but by the time that you are all said and done I was I was watching you head out to do three to four claims a day and that’s considering the storm that you walked into, you attacked it in your approach to correctly.
You made good progress while you’re there and that’s absolutely right. You’ll be able to take what you learned from that and use that to be a positive beat towards your next deployment.
With all this being said, guys there’s really, in my opinion, one of the most important things that we need to walk away from this episode and this deployment from I need to know what was the best food you had while you were in New Orleans are in Louisiana?
Cody: For me it was the– And I have to pick your brain on what was the egg rolls that we had while we were down there. Were they that?
Alan: Yes. Well, we happen to be– We were in Plaquemine. Yes and there was a riverside specialty meats and Plaquemine had that’s it Budan Agros that was that. They were out of sight.
They were outstanding and, I will have to say some of the folks that were accommodating us down there, we had– I feel like we– I was spoiled on my first deployment because you were– We had some folks cook for us and they did some outstanding meals for us as well.
I think I gained weight that first week while I was down there.
Jason: You haven’t really been on a deployment until you’ve lived on Campbell’s soup, and you get to the point where you can shake a can and know what kind of soup it is from?
Cody: Yes, that was spoiled.
Jason: I don’t know. I had some good gas station Crawfish pie.
Alan: Well, you and I, Jason. We did make it out to eat one night there, in the Kenner area and had some good fish and enjoyable evening out.
But again, we did get a chance to cut loose and have a little bit of fun while we were on deployment but just as normal we were there to work. We stayed at it and spent most of our evenings pounding on keys and turning in claims and at the end of the day, that’s what we were there to do.
Well. Cody, I appreciate you joining us. It was really nice to be able to wrap up this storm with not just Jason and I’s insight on what we saw, but a good hurricane through the eyes of somebody brand new that could share that experience with listeners as well and hopefully they can take a little bit of what we had to offer and some of what you had to offer.
And they can combine those two together and capitalize on that so when they get their opportunity or their next opportunity. They can, move forward and be a little more productive.
One thing I do want to shout out is there– If there’s anybody that’s listening, that’s still over there in the New Orleans area or anywhere in Louisiana, it doesn’t even matter. It could be Tennessee or moving on up.
Jason: Working Ida.
Alan: Anybody working Ida, anybody still working Ida, send us an email, get ahold of us on Facebook.
You can go to TheAdjusterGuy.com and contact us through that. We’d like to see what you’re doing out there. We’d like to see what clean– How cleanups going. I know there’s probably quite a bit more adjusters working that to clean up than what we think, majority of the claims are over but there’s still lots of work left to do.
Yes, I mean, there’s going to be a lot of files reopening for damages that couldn’t be seen or additional damages that need to be addressed that that may have been noted and just couldn’t do anything about it at the time.
Jason: Well, our public adjuster buddies are moving in.
Alan: That’s right. They’re going to be a thorn in everybody’s side here over the next few months but send us an email, shoot us some pictures, whatever you feel you can do.
It’s firstname.lastname@example.org. It’s P-O-D-M-A-I-L@usa.com and again, I want to thank you Cody for coming on.
Thank you. Thanks for having me.
Alan: I thought it was the hurricane we needed to get out of the house and feel like we had a decent hurricane season and it served its purpose.
Well, I had– I felt I had a good run and I’m glad to be off of that run and back at home with my family and taking a break and slowing down a little bit.
Jason: Yes, it was a good run for me. It was fast and busy and done quick it really– I’ve never worked a hurricane that was done that fast that size of a hurt.
Yes, that was done and wrapped up at least with the bulk majority of the upfront work but it was a good run. Glad to be home. I pulled the trigger and came home when I was thought I was done.
Alan: Yes, same here. I saw that the claim count was winding down and I don’t want to be nothing against it. I think it’s a great learning experience but I’m not that cleanup kind of guy in in my age and time of my career.
I’ll let the younger guys take that. Take the lead on that and go run that. That let it be what it is and I’ll go home and spend some time with my family. There you go.
Jason: Well, Alan thanks for having me.
Alan: You batcha, man.
Cody, good to have you on and, folks, we’ll see you again in a couple of weeks.
Cody: Thanks Alan.