If you are involved in estimating or reviewing insurance estimates, you just want to get it right.
You are the estimating professional in the process and establishing a fair price for good work is all that you’re looking for. You’re not caught up in the politics or larger strategies that lead to accusations that somebody is taking advantage of someone else.
AS ESTIMATORS AND REVIEWERS, WHAT ARE WE UP AGAINST?
- Massive pricing databases, from Xactimate™, Symbility or another platform (up to 27,000 options!).
- The expectation that you’re an expert in all trades from foundation to roofing and everything in between.
- Specific carrier/TPA protocols, some of which are so like the next that, the nuances are difficult to commit to memory, but essential to meeting the SLAs.
So, management hires specialists and team leads, and you all get to work. Two weeks in the large loss specialist cannot get to every job, the abatement expert has a pile of files on their desk, and the mitigation specialist is retiring next month! These are expensive resources, whose workload is affected by the season, vacations, and staffing shortages.
We are at a state in our industry where very few people have a chance to keep up with the demands of being a reviewer for a single carrier, much less an estimator that has files for multiple carriers.
SO, LET’S ADD A 4TH POINT TO THE THINGS THAT YOU ARE UP AGAINST:
4. If you have done it all and hold all the certifications, then you are at the top of your field. Let’s just say you have HAAG, XCT, CIP, Red Seal, Ph.D., whatever, you now must stay current on all the updates and changes in each of your specialties. When do you squeeze in work? Are you sure you remembered EVERYTHING?
Let’s be real, even the best among us can’t do it all, but there are some best practices that we can implement that can help us be better.
To run a business, contractors must ensure that an estimate or invoice covers the materials and services performed or required, and insurers are well within their rights to ask detailed questions to ensure accuracy. And yet somehow, using the same estimating program, two estimators might come up with two different prices, and a reviewer might come up with a third. Consider: We are all human, people are people, and although armed with the best of intentions, they bring strengths and weaknesses to everything that they do, including estimating restoration work.
Why can’t this be easier?
Here are just some of the ways that you can share knowledge and implement a Quality Assurance Process on your own estimates in-house:
Peer Review: Just like a cross-check in the airline industry, this involves ‘double checking’ someone else’s work. You might have heard on your last flight ‘arm doors and cross-check’, where flight attendants arm the emergency evacuation slides, and then check their teammate’s work to ensure that they have done it correctly. A similar procedure could be set up in your own office to ensure the completeness of an estimate. The upside is that estimators learn techniques from each other; the downside is fighting ‘confirmation bias’ (reading an estimate and just agreeing with it) and ensuring the estimators caught everything. Peer reviews can catch missing items, duplication, or specific carrier requirements.
Designate a QA Person or Team: This team takes the above a step further and assigning a member of your team that only checks estimates for completeness. They are less likely to fall into the ‘confirmation bias’ trap (as their assigned role is to double check estimates), but whether this is a full time or part time role, it does take the QA member a good deal of time to complete this task. There are also third parties that will do this for you.
Build an in-house Knowledge Base: This can be as simple as a spreadsheet stored somewhere; but the important thing here is ensuring that it is kept current, and that it is read and reviewed by the team when there are updates. It is important to set this up as a ‘habit’ with your team (say, every Monday morning) they review and add to the knowledge base of protocols.
Use a third-party tool: Using a third-party estimate review tool allows for near-instantaneous review of the estimate to ensure accuracy while providing continuous and targeted training to the estimator. The powerful estimate review databases that are now being leveraged contain the knowledge of contributing industry experts and surveys. Bots use Robotic Processing Automation (RPA) and can scan the estimate with the knowledge of specialists in each trade. They scan for completeness of scope including potential missing items, and for items that are over scoped or duplicated. Depending on the quality of the program, bots can scan each estimate for hundreds of thousands of possible recommendations.
This can be easier, and estimators and reviewers can adapt and train to meet the continuous challenges of our industry. Whether the right solution for you is technology focused or process driven, these options all promote the sharing of knowledge within your organization. Implement one, or a combination to reliably return complete, consistent, and compliant estimates.