How Insurance Companies Use Estimating Software To Cut Profits From Contractors

2020-04-17T07:39:22-04:00 December 3rd, 2019|

Researched and Written by Tristan Miles

Carriers such as Erie Insurance, Cincinnati Insurance, and Tower Hill Insurance continually create estimates that leave insureds and contractors with up to 20% less profit than what should be owed. Carriers have found ways to utilize Symbility to ensure that every estimate written, is done so, at the lowest possible cost to the Carrier.

ABOUT SYMBILITY:

Symbility, a subsidiary of CoreLogic, is a publicly owned global software company. Symbility provides the carrier’s adjusters with a one-stop-shop for claim adjustment. It offers weather data, analytics tools, estimating software, and wireless communication all in one convenient location. Symbility proudly asserts that, “it provides adjusters and contractors a method to settle property loss claims”. However, the easiest way is not always the right way. Insurance claims can be complex, contractor’s cost can vary greatly from jobs even in the same county and software does often account for this complexity.

MATERIAL AND LABOR COSTS:

National average material costs are compiled from surveys or suppliers throughout North America. These surveys are helpful, but they are not exactly accurate. Costs for some materials, such as clay tile, will vary a great deal in each region. Material waste is often indicated with the items, but very rarely confirmed as suggested in their pricing database. This often leaves the Contractor with less waste, with no actual baseline to contribute it to.

Labor costs are created from an aggregate of national rates that are generally consistent with the labor wages of unions. In most cases the “demolition” or the removal of a roof will be completed by the roofer, a “skilled worker”, and not a separate and cheaper demolition team. Having a roofer complete the removal helps ensure that additional damage does not occur and allows the same team to put the roof on that removed it. Symbility’s recognizes that the “skilled worker” will most likely participate in all phases of construction. Therefore, in these estimates, the demolition laborer’s hourly rate, should be higher than normal.

Additionally, adjusters should be accounting for the specific locality’s worker’s compensation costs. Generally, we have seen that when bringing this to the adjuster’s attention, they feel that this would most likely fall under a general contractor’s overhead and profit expenses.

Most request for supervision hours is denied. This is by design, Symbility lists that if a skilled tradesperson is completing the work, supervision is assumed and not owed. However, this would force them to account for the labor costs, to be accurately reflected, raising the cost of demolition.

 

TWEAKING THE TRADES:

Pricing in any database no matter how localized the prices and how frequently they are updated is always nothing more than a guideline. The most accurate estimates will be from the professionals themselves, contractors.

Adjusters have the ability to look up the appropriate regional modification factors for each pricing component and they can tailor the unit pricing to the to a specific region. These modifiers can be altered to allow an adjuster to adjust the pricing to account for sudden price changes (such as catastrophe situations).

Company administrators can further “tweak” the pricing, down to the subcategory level using category modification factors. If one or more categories are consistently too high or too low, the adjuster can create their own modification factors for materials, labor, or equipment to apply to all items within a specific subcategory.

Symbility gives the adjusters more freedom to lower the estimate by allowing them control over all components of each individual trade rate. For example, if a roof is being estimated by Erie Insurance there will be several line items under the same trade (removal). Erie’s adjuster can alter a single trade, demolition, which will alter many line items instantly. This will dramatically lower the cost of the roof overall.

OVERHEAD AND PROFIT:

Symbility’s database does not include markup. Insurance repair markup is almost always 20 percent; 10 percent for overhead and 10 percent for profit. A carrier using Symbility are more likely to create an estimate that only accounts for the labor and materials needed for a job. However, if given a good adjuster is on the claim, they should be able to make up for those costs incurred by a contractor in another subcategory.

Carriers like Erie Insurance are continually making waves in the property insurance world and not in a good way. The use of Symbility is another way to ensure that they can attempt to indemnify their Insured. They are able to lower every single line item very easily. This leaves insured’s unable to complete the work or contractors are burden with the additional costs themselves.

Premier Claims  does its best to identify all pricing gaps, we try see what patterns are emerging from the industry, all so we can ensure that the insured is properly indemnified and the contractor is going to be able complete the job at no additional cost to them or the insured.

Using Data assembled by: Whitepaper Pricing Database and their assessment of Symbility mobile claims