ADJUSTERS, HERE'S HOW TO KEEP YOUR DIGITAL FILES ORGANIZED [GUIDE]

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December 18, 2020

DISCLAIMER: AS AN AMAZON ASSOCIATE WE EARN FROM QUALIFYING PURCHASES. THIS POST CONTAINS AFFILIATE LINKS WHICH WILL REWARD US MONETARILY OR OTHERWISE WHEN YOU USE THEM TO MAKE QUALIFYING PURCHASES. FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE READ OUR AMAZON AFFILIATE DISCLOSURE.

You are likely already familiar with working your claims on a computer every day, but are you one of the guilty ones living their lives on backup drives, USB sticks, and in some cases, multiple computers, in order to access your data?

In this article, you'll learn how to move all of your adjusting material into a centralized storage hub that is well-organized, serachable, and accessible, making you a better adjuster!

Legal Requirements

State requirements vary, but most agree that you should keep the materials used in the adjustment of a claim, including estimates, photos, notes, and other documents, anywhere from one to seven years. This makes the case for going paperless even more attractive and almost necessary for anyone working a high volume of claims.

Keeping these vital records around may not seem important as you start out, but they are incredibly important as you establish yourself as an adjuster and get into higher profile claims. The need for past information can become necessary as more difficult claims end up in litigation.

Finding a System

Since most files are stored on a computer, getting a great system setup and ensuring the information you want to get into that system ends up there is crucially important.

Access to that data quickly and easily is also just as important.

A case for paper files

You should know that there is a case for keeping paper files that still exists and many adjusters still print almost everything pertaining to their claims and keep it on file for easy reference. If you find that keeping paper files makes you faster and more efficient, then it would make sense to stick with paper for your system!

It's okay, the firm I work for stores all data in the cloud... Most modern adjusting companies are using some kind of claims management system in their workflow. While this may seem as a good backup plan, it has its dangers. For one, if you move on to another firm, you may lose access to this data. Also, there is no guarantee that the data they are storing is going to be available years down the road. In a worst case scenario, you may actually find that you have to defend yourself against a firm, in which case having all of that crucial data would be advantageous.

The setup

Any professional office you have likely stepped into has been filled with various cabinets and file folders. The setup you'll learn to put into practice is not far from this system, which has proven to be effective through years and years of refinements.

The key is making sure that you have your information available to you no matter where you may be. This means not only having a local copy, but also a backup and some sort of persistent cloud copy as well. This will help in the event of a system crash, lost notebook computer, or if you need to access your files from a mobile device.

You can setup your system on your own server or use any of the available cloud softwares that sync to your computer and allow additional access from other devices.

The next thing you will need to do is setup your local folders. Most of the cloud software companies will designate a folder on your computer that syncs with the cloud. Inside this folder is where you will want to create your folder hierarchy.

Starting with a generic folder that will categorize all of your work, and a number to ensure that it stays at the top of the folder hierarchy when sorted by name:

00-Work

Now you have a "00-Work" folder that will serve as the starting point for all your files. Now you break this down into further categories:

  • 00-Work
    • 01-Claims
    • 02-Resume
    • 03-Licenses
    •  04-Reference

Here you have a folder to house all of your claim related materials, resumes, professional licenses, and a reference folder for storing important material.

Each of these folders get their own subfolders. Here is a breakdown on what they could look like:

  • 00-Work
    • 01-Claims
    • 02-Resume
      • 01-draft resumes
      • 02-draft cover letters
      • 03-final resume
    • 03-Licenses
      • 01-florida-expires-01012021
      • 02-texas-expires-05222020
    • 04-Reference
      • 01-useful articles
      • 02-downloads

The claims folder:

The first thing you will do is create a folder for each of the firms that you are working for. This will allow space for all of the material related to work performed for that particular firm:

  • 00-Work
    • 01-Claims
      • 01-ABC Adjusting Company
      • 02-XYZ Adjusting Professionals
      • 03-Hurricane Chasers International

Next, make sure each folder has an area to store materials. The breakdown looks like this:

  • 00-Work
    • 01-Claims
      • 01-ABC Adjusting Company
        • 01-Assignments
        • 02-Agreements
        • 03-Reference and Materials
        • 04-Instructions and Samples
        • 05-Payment Information
      • 02-XYZ Adjusting Professionals
        • 01-Assignments
        • 02-Agreements
        • 03-Reference and Materials
        • 04-Instructions and Samples
        • 05-Payment Information
      • 03-Hurricane Chasers International
        • 01-Assignments
        • 02-Agreements
        • 03-Reference and Materials
        • 04-Instructions and Samples
        • 05-Payment Information

Each folder structure is the same, but the system can be adapted to allow for more information to be stored if you find it necessary.

What kind of files get stored in each of these folders?

  1. Assignments: Here is where all your claim assignments will live. From the moment you receive a new assignment, a folder is setup and the documents relating to the assignment will live inside.

  2. Agreements: Keep all your contracts and agreements with the company in this folder. Keeping a separate folder for submitted contracts and countersigned contracts is helpful to ensure you have both. You may also want to break them up into years so you can look back at any changes and know which contract is active.

  3. Reference and Materials: In this folder, you keep things like policy documents, opening statement files, logos, report templates, Xactimate headers, and anything else you will need to complete assignments.

  4. Instructions and Samples: In this folder, store example reports, estimates, files, and additional instructional materials that you will reference often. This is where you will go if you need a refresher on how a client needs a report formatted or to see how an estimate needs to be structured. You can also store copies of your own reports that received high praise in this folder. This will make sure that you are emulating what worked in the past. This is also where you will store generic information on how to work for a particular carrier. These should have their own folders.

  5. Payment Information: In this folder, keep copies of check stubs or payment breakdowns. It is extremely helpful to have all of this information in one place should you need to dispute or verify a payment.

The Assignments Folder

Inside your adjusting firm folder is the Assignments folder, which then gets further broken down:

  • 01-Assignments
    • 01-Great State Insurance Company
      • Greg Parkman
      • Sally Shoemaker
      • Bill Smith
      02-ABC Mutual Insurance Company
      • ABCMIC-123456 - The Car Wash Shop
      • ABCMIC-98154 - Great American Church
      • ABCMIC-65188 - Amy Baker
      03-American Insurance Partners
      • 01-25635686
      • 01-21815248
      • 01-21856251

In the assignments folder, break down the folders into individual carriers. This will make it far easier to find what you are looking for should someone contact you with a question. Each of these folders will have subfolders for the claim. You can come up with your own folder system here. The example includes insured name only, claim number and insured name, and just claim number. Each will have their own benefits, but detail can be useful if you only have a name to go on, or only a claim number. Most often, name, claim number, and file number work best.

The more detailed your filenames are, the easier they will be to identify.

Inside each claim folder you will further breakdown storage of your files. This will keep everything tidy as you make your system both searchable and scannable for information:

  • 01-Claims
    • 01-Assignments
      • 02-ABC Mutual Insurance Company
        • ABCMIC-123456 - The Car Wash Shop
          • 01-Inbox
          • 02-Assingment Information
          • 03-Photos
          • 04-Report 1
          • 05-Report 2
          • 06-Admin

Okay, why so many folders? Let's look at each.

  1. INBOX: This is a catchall for information that you need to file later. Things stored in this folder may include pictures obtained from the insured, receipts, documents provided by the agent, etc. Throw stuff in this folder knowing that you will need to find it later. Pointing your scans and saving emails here is a good idea. However, this folder, like your email inbox, should be gone through often and emptied into one of the other folders.

  2. Assignment Information: When you receive a new assignment, take a copy of the email and all of the attachments and store them here. This is one of the most visisted folders in each claim file as it contains all of the specifics for the assignment and will help keep you on track.

  3. Photos: As soon as you finish an inspection, dump all of your photos into this folder. Do this from the car if you can and look through them to ensure you have all of the shots you are going to need. This will also help you in finding them later. Don't delete any photos from your camera though, you are using this folder as a backup of the device you are using. If your camera becomes lost or destroyed during the day, you can rest well knowing that all of your previous inspection photos are safely stored.

  4. Report X: Each report folder will contain files that were submitted for that particular report on the claim. This will help you to see what was sent and keep track of multiple estimates and other things that may change as the claim progresses.

  5. Admin: Here you will store any files related to the administration of the claim. Including your receipts for expenses, time and expense reports, and anything else that would be submitted internally that would not be considered part of the claim file. This is a good place to scan and store your written notes. You should also use this area to store a copy of the ESX file for your estimate. This could prove to be valuable down the road.

While we are here, lets talk about file naming conventions as well. The more detailed your filenames are, the easier they will be to identify. Here is what file names look like in our folder examples:

  • 01-Claims
    • 01-Assignments
      • 02-ABC Mutual Insurance Company
        • ABCMIC-123456 - The Car Wash Shop
          • 04-Report 1
            • ABCMIC-123456 - The Car Wash Shop - Estimate
            • ABCMIC-123456 - The Car Wash Shop - Report 1
            • ABCMIC-123456 - The Car Wash Shop - Photo Report
            • ABCMIC-123456 - The Car Wash Shop - Insured Receipts
            • ABCMIC-123456 - The Car Wash Shop - Valuation

By keeping the names tied to the folder and identifying both the claim and the insured, these files are very quickly identified and will likely help the recipient in storing and sorting them as well.

Getting Information In

For the most part, the information in your folder system will either be dragged there as you organize your files, downloaded there from your camera, or put there as you receive infromation from emails, scanner apps, etc. The main thing to remember is that with your new folder system, every file should have a home, meaning nothing gets thrown on the destop or dropped in a generic folder somewhere.

The key is being able to find these files later, which means training yourself to put every file in its place needs to become an important part of your workflow.

Accessing your data

When you are on your computer, it is important to know where to go to find information. When you get a phone call or email from a manager, being able to access the information that they are looking at will make sure you look compentent and professional.

Not only will you be more organized, you will be more effecient. The time saved in locating a file could mean the difference in being able to complete another report, or take on more assignments.

Not only will you be more organized, you will be more effecient. The time saved in locating a file could mean the difference in being able to complete another report, or take on more assignments.

Finally, the importance of storing this informaiton in the cloud will become apparent whenever it is time to change computers or if you need to access the information from another device. You can also access your cloud folders from an insured's computer and pull files from their system, which can save the hassle of follow up and missing information. Preserving as much evidence at the loss location as possible will always be the best method!

Another solid tactic is to create a local backup of your system at least yearly. This is as easy as purchasing a thumb drive and copying your 00-Work folder to it. This can then be accessed offline if needed and will help in keeping only the most relevant files on your system.


In conclusion, it is important that you view our files with the same importance that you view our work product. Keeping everything accessible through great organization, cloud storage, and a solid backup system will make sure you can find the most obscure file for years to come.

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