Snow-mageddon in Texas: Adjustments in Life Podcast (E 7)

During this episode, Alan discusses the winter storm that swept through Texas in February 2021. He gives a inside perspective of what the claims were like and shares the feedback he was given from the top industry managers about learning opportunities and key points of what adjusters need to improve on when handling these types of claims. And as a special treat, stay tuned until the very end to hear about what Good Friday means to him.


Alan: Welcome back folks. It is, again, another podcast Friday for Adjustments in Life; and we are so glad that you’re tuning in and with us today. 

What I wanna do this week is just make a recap of what’s been happening over the last couple months. So when February came up we encountered probably the largest winter storm that’s taken place in my career—probably there may be others out there that have dealt with situations that are much more than this. But in my career—and probably most everybody this tuning in—this to be the largest winter event you have work in your career up to this point. 

So let’s recap it. So February 13 through the 17th, a very large winter storm system swept down down from Canada bringing absolutely the most frigid temperatures to the south. This was the biggest winter storm to affect the southeast portion of the United States in over 70 years. Texas alone—this is probably the worst winter storm that has affected the state of Texas. 

We had temperatures below freezing for five days straight and as far south as Austin, Texas which is very uncommon. We had snow on Galveston Bay; Del Rio, Texas encountered right at 32°—so this was a tremendous event and it did not stop. 

It wasn’t one of those that came in overnight or for a day. This was a system that came in and stayed. And the homes here are not built to take frigid, freezing temperatures. And I know that you’re probably saying, “Hey, but they withstand heat,” but the plumbing systems here are not specifically built to withstand subzero temperatures for an extended period of time. 

So that that wreak some havoc in Texas. And so let me give you a little background on what happened here and why it led into the the claim event that took place here.

So Texas, over the last several years, has been increasing the amount of renewal energy that being asked of the states to try to use to make better use of the renewable energy that’s offered versus the fossil fuels. Although Texas does have a large amount of fossil fuel available, they’ve been pushing in that direction—creating more renewable energy. 

So there’s been a very large amount of windmill energy being built and used to support power in the state of Texas. One thing that you may not know is that the state of Texas operates on its own power grid—well, I say probably about 80 percent of Texas operates on its own power grid, managed by an entity called ERCOT. 

So ERCOT is the entity that manages and directs how power distribution is made and distributed across the state of Texas. Only a few outlining areas of that—of the state—are serviced by out of the state energy delivery companies. 

So considering now that we have a majority of the state operating on this power grid that is producing more renewable energy now then fossil fuels, we began to see that the system was beginning to be not overloaded but was predicted to reach its peak and not be able to produce energy properly. 

And so there’s fear of that that when it hit the peak amount the whole grid would possibly go down. So what ERCOT decided to do was ERCOT reached out to all their electric delivery companies and said where we’re going to institute what we call a rolling power outage. 

So what rolling power outage was was a specifically well-designed system of intentionally shutting off different areas of the power grid to keep the system within its realms of being able to keep up. And so, if they did this and they rotated through the areas properly, then nobody would ever ever lose power permanently—they will lose a parent power for a period of time, but then you would regain your power while another area of the grid goes down and goes without power for a period of time. 

So I live in the south of the general DFW area. I was at home during this situation, so I encountered the same type of situation at my house. We had to have rolling power outages in with those rolling power outages started out as we had about 45 minutes of power being off in about 15 minutes of power being on—which luckily was barely enough that we could keep our home at a decent temperature during that time frame—at the time frame without power.

As time went on over that five day period, the time that the power was on started increasing more and the time the power was off started decreasing. So it ended up that we reason we knew we were getting about 35 minutes of a power on and you know maybe 15-20 minutes of the power being off. 

By the fifth day we were only getting our power shut off maybe every couple hours; but what it did, when it worked properly, was it allowed everybody to get enough power to keep their home from freezing. If you did have a frozen pipe, it was probably just gonna be on an exterior wall—no major issues you know. That was the intent. 

And in the areas where they did what they were supposed to do—as is what I was instructed anyway—then it worked. A large area of the state still had problems, and so, because of that, there were areas that lost powers for the whole time-the whole five days. 

Here now you’ve got subzero temperatures, and you’ve got thousands and thousands and thousands of homes with no power. And when there’s no power, there’s no way for anybody to be able to maintain heat in their home. And you can not keep a house from freezing up. 

Most of the homes in Texas that were built probably pre-2000, were all copper. And, as most of you probably know, copper does not hold up well to freeze. It’s going to burst the copper pipe; and then when the pipe thaws out, it’s going to leak. 

So all of this built up to this massive freeze event when the power went out for all these folks; it was almost a guarantee that there was going to be a massive claims come in because there—the entire state was being affected by it. 

That led to what we now know, at this point, as some of the largest drops of claims on the independent firms in history. I was told that there was claims in the amounts of 30 to 50,000 coming in being dropped on the independent firms as well as the—within a day—all of the major carriers had their staff adjusters to capacity.

It overwhelmed everybody at an instance. That is more claims, in a few day period, then we receive on most hurricane events. Hurricane events are much more small in geographical size—more concentrated to an area than what we saw on this event—so if you’re a new adjuster or you’ve been working this event, you’ve been involved in one of the biggest catastrophe events in the United States in several years. 

We haven’t had hurricanes that drew this many claims in this amount of time. If you were a part of this, kudos to you. This was a very, very, very tough event. I was overwhelmed myself during times of this event, and I’ve been in this a long time. And it was a massive event—the claims were horrendous. 

You would walk into houses that had every room in the house affected.tthey would have one pipe break in the house but, before they could get the water shut off or get it tended to, it would flood the whole house. I don’t know how many $50,000 plus losses I tended to, and I was one of several hundred maybe thousands of adjusters that were working just in Texas alone. 

So this, we did we sort of saw this coming. This event was was far bigger than most of the events we’ll work. So with all this being said, this was an event that a new adjuster could really learn from. It wasn’t very easy to work, like I already discussed. 

It was one of those events that you don’t know what you’re walking into; and you could end up having four rooms damaged, you could end up having 16 rooms damaged. A lot of times in these houses nowadays the floors are continuous throughout the whole house, so you may have had only damage to two rooms and you had to sketch the entire house. 

I can’t tell you what you walked into; I can only tell you what I walked into, but it was an event that was amazing to me at the extent of what it actually ended up being. Looking back on it, it was a tremendous amount of education a man could’ve learned or a woman could’ve learned from being a part of it.

I think that if you were new to this and you got deployed for the first time, it’s just going to get easier from here. Newer adjusters typically don’t get this much opportunity to learn interior damage like he would’ve learned on the storm. And so again, kudos to you for being involved in it. 

If you’re still working, stay at it. Continue to go, don’t give up on it. You’re gonna get tired of riding these interior claims, but you’re going to continue to work with contractors, you’re going to continue to work the reinspect—stay at it. You’re going to get miles ahead in education than anybody else by staying on this storm and working until all the claims were completely wrapped up and done. 

If I wanted to go back to reviewing the very first few years of my career, I didn’t get this type of event but I did work several events where I worked continuous reinspect and a lot of interior claims because I got the education to move forward with those claims. And you’re just going to get more and more knowledge and information on how to be a better adjuster. 

But from the storm, I have communicated with a lot of different managers that I know—managers that I worked with. And so I wanted to get some information back out to you in the field that I’m hearing from the managers that I know on what were some key things that they saw on the management side that they may or may not have had time to share with you, but now you can capitalize on that information and move forward with it. 

So let’s go over a few things now, because we should be in the wrapup stage—we should be getting the reinspects looked at, the majority of the new claims have come in and have been handled. So those that are still working or those that worked it and left, here’s just a bit of insight for you to know what the managers are talking about—what the firms are thinking of, kind of an overview of things that are our training opportunities that can go out to the field. 

There’s two big things that they expressed to me that I think are worthy of expressing out to you that it’s going to help you. Those two things are documentation and urgency. 

So let’s start with documentation. There’s two major things about documentation that they notice a lack of on these storms that need to be there and would’ve helped cut down on probably some of the reinspection and some of the things that have to go further on with the claims. But it’s good solid information that you need to be working on and getting into all your files moving forward. 

Those two things, so photo documentation and file note documentation. So let’s start with the photos. Photo documentation—it is always important to have well more photos than what you need, especially when you’re working interior. You can’t have enough photos, you can’t have enough photos showing damage, and you can’t have enough photos showing that there’s no damage.

These are very, very important. There’s so many times that we walk in and we think we’re taking photos of the same things over and over again, but we’re really not. We’re just fully documenting the room that we’re in. 

Remember there’s always overview of the room and close-ups. But you always want to get a photo of the floor, you always want to get a photo of the ceiling, you always want to get photos of the walls and anything is happening on those walls. You should be able to walk into a room and always have 10 or 12 photos of that room regardless—whether it’s damaged or not. 

You’re just fully documenting that there is or is not damage. If you have damage in a room and they’re only claiming damage to that one room you might photograph the adjacent rooms to that room to ensure that it didn’t bleed over into another room and they just haven’t noticed it—that’s just good clear documentation, getting the damage is noted that aren’t damaged is a big thing. 

But I think the number one thing that they noted to me or spoke to me about was getting the origin—where did the where did the water come from? Did we get a photo of the actual broken pipe that is broken or did we get a photo of the pipe that’s been repaired and where that’s located so that all the damage that has occurred that we have a photo documentation of, it all links together—it shows basically a map of here’s where it started and it went through all of the rooms and all the rest of these rooms are not damaged. 

I know that we try not to overdo these reports, but we still need to make sure that we get these photo documentation in there. And it’s always easier to get it there on the first visit then have to go back; and, if you’re working residential claims, if it doesn’t change that fee schedule on the amount, you may be asked to go back to these claims on a second time out of your dime and not on the company’s dime. 

So I am telling you there’s no better time to get this photo documentation then when you’re there for the first time. I understand you’re trying to get as much done in a day as you can, but you got to get it while you’re there. 

You’re gonna spend less time putting another 10 to 15 minutes into your inspection time when you’re there the first time than driving all the way back for a whole hour the second time including drive time to get there, get what you need, and get out of there. So photo documentation—you’ve got to get the photo documentation in the file. 

File notes—this is documentation as well. You have to keep up on the files. If those managers don’t know where that file stands at least on an every other day basis, or for every 48 hours, you’ve got a drop a note in the file. 

These managers need to know—the carriers need to know—especially on an event like this when you’re running 7 to 10 days behind on inspections or you’re scheduled out that far, is a better way to explain it. They understand; they know you’re overwhelmed; the carrier knows you’re overwhelmed; they know that we can’t get to these claims the next day. 

A simple note in the file says, “I made this inspection today, I’ll have it uploaded in the file00a completed report within 48 hours.” If you can’t get it done in 48 hours, drop another note in the file. “Due to some type of situation, logistics, whatever it may be, I wasn’t able to get the completed report up today, here’s when I expect to leave.” 

Every note with an expectation set, so that whoever is reviewing that file knows where you’re at, what you’re doing, what’s going on with the file—a simple amount of information that’s going to buy you time because nobody’s calling you and taking your time on the phone and nobody’s emailing you trying to get information from you and you’re not having to write emails back to get the information back out. 

You took 10 seconds to drop a one sentence note in the file, and it goes away until the next time you have to set another expectation. So I can’t express this enough and it’s just a recap again of the simple things that have taken place and or have not taken place that need to be addressed for those of you that are either learning or haven’t been in the trade long enough to really get a grasp of it or you seem to be struggling with some of these issues. 

It’s just insight guys. Take it for what it’s worth, apply it to what you’re doing, and you’re gonna find out you’re going to get better at what you’re doing—you’re gonna have less phone calls, you’re gonna have less managers wondering what you’re doing, and you’re going to get further ahead because you’re on top of your stuff. 

The second thing I really wanna get into that they have expressed to me and the other managers that I’ve talk to or things that I’ve noticed is just a sense of urgency. This is not the job that you say “it’s 5:00, I’m tired, I think I wanna kick back, and put my feet up and watch TV the rest the evening.” 

We knew that getting into this; and I’ve had some managers expressed to me that there’s some people in the field that just are not understanding the urgency. This is such an awesome trade to be involved in and there’s so much you can do with it, so many avenues you can go down, so many places you can go with this career. 

It’s just gotta have the urgency to get involved and do it the way they need you to do it. Urgency is a big thing. Urgency applies to how quickly you make your contacts, how avid you are about being on time for your inspections. Are you only inspecting what you can upload in a day? Are you getting all of those estimates uploading?

I understand you’re tired; I’m tired to 40 days straight 60 days straight from 6 AM till midnight. But that’s what it takes to do this job under the conditions that were in. We do it because we know we can do it, we know we can be successful doing it, and what else can we do it for?

It’s the money guys! We go out there, and we make a killing in these days like this where we can run through a lot of claims in a short amount of time. Maybe this storm you didn’t make a killing you want to make; but you will because your managers in your firms are going to see the the amount of work you put into what you’re doing and they’re gonna put you back out there again on a storm that’s a cakewalk. 

And you’re gonna run through more claims in a day than you think you can get to. And the urgency that you already have is going to get you moving even faster, and you’re gonna learn that you do have the capability of doing maybe another claim in that time period that you didn’t think you could get done. 

Urgency, accuracy, and the will to want to be successful will carry you all the way through this every time you get deployed. I can’t express that enough to you. This is a job as we go out, we show up on site, we work as hard as we can work, we cover as much ground as we can, and—when the claims are done—we go home. That’s how it works. 

We can make a good income doing it, we get lots of freedom in what we do, and we get to be successful at what we wanna do. And that’s worth it right there. I know for me just the freedom alone—being able to go work when I want to work and go home and play with my kids and hang out with my wife and enjoy life when I’m not deployed and be able to live comfortably doing that—that’s what it’s all about guys. 

And so what I’m trying to do is give you are recaps of what we’re dealing with from storm to storm to storm and then through my connections and my communication with the people that I know among the industry get the feedback from them that I can share with you guys and get back out to the field so you see what they’re wanting—you see the the things that are dragging the firms down, you see the things that they’re dealing with on a daily basis during the storms that might set you apart from everybody else.

You may not be one of those people that are struggling anymore because you got this insight listening to this podcast that you may not have understood prior to now. So I hope that what you’re getting off of this is going to—you’re gonna take it to heart and you’re gonna go “okay, these are the things I’m gonna work on on the next deployment and see if I can improve who I am and what I do when I get deployed.”

I could go on for hours guys I want to benefit you, I want you to look to me as a resource, I want you to come to this podcast for information needed in order to continue to make yourself successful. 

That’s what we’re here for—that’s what the whole agenda behind The Adjuster Guy and The Adjuster Guy Private Community—is to get to give you a platform of solid information that’s only going to benefit you. 

So kudos to everybody that was a part of this major event. This was not an easy event to work, but with the right attitude you learned a lot. And you’re gonna gain a lot and you’re going to grow a lot with this storm and the opportunities that came about from the storm. 

So I’m gonna wrap it up here, guys. There’s just one thing I do a one more thing I want to throw out there. Today is Good Friday, and I know some of you may not be avid church-goers, but I do want you to recognize and I want to share with you—because you’re my community, and I am a believer in Jesus Christ Nice to be my Lord and Savior. 

And so through that I’m instructed to share what I have with you; and you can choose to do what you want with it from there. If you have any interest in knowing anything about the Christian religion or being a believer, feel free to contact me. I’d love to have that discussion with you. 

I hope that each and everyone of you are getting to spend the Easter holiday with your loved ones—whoever they may be—and cherish the day for what it truly is. And I hope and I pray that just a small inkling of a seed gets planted in you through this podcast and that you can benefit the true meaning of love and the benefit of having a relationship with your Savior in your life. 

And I hope that I can help be the person that gets you headed in that direction. So with that being said, guys, happy Easter. I wish each and everyone of you and your family the best that I can give you and hope that this podcast continues to get to grow and benefit you in every way I possibly can.

So, everybody have a good weekend; and I will see you again in two weeks.

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