Part of being a licensed insurance claims adjuster is being ready to travel at a moment’s notice. You never know where and when disasters will happen, so you should keep a well-stocked travel bag that you can grab and go when catastrophe strikes. Even if some of these items seem like no-brainers, trust me when I say it’s better to gather everything ahead of time while you have a clear head than it is to try and remember everything you need when you’re hurrying off to a deployment.
Disaster zones are chaotic places full of claims adjusters rushing around trying to work as many cases as possible. You will find yourself working long hours, possibly spending a great deal of time in your car on the way to and from the affected region, and working in conditions that could be hazardous due to structural damage and other concerns. The last thing you want to do is show up unprepared. Here are the items I recommend you keep on hand for grab-and-go scenarios.
Your Go-Bag Essentials:
Whether you prefer a laptop or a tablet, keep a portable computer on hand. You’ll need it to organize your files, use your Xactimate software, and write and deliver your reports. Look for one with good computing speed that’s also rugged enough to survive your travel and deployments.
Smartphone and Apps
Your phone is your lifeline that holds all your contacts and useful apps that will make your deployments go more smoothly. Make sure you’ve installed a good navigation app that shows real-time traffic reports and detours, a weather forecast app, a measuring app, and an app for music and podcasts during long drives.
Tools and Equipment
You’ll want to bring at least one 100’ tape measure, a ladder, pocket electrical tester, shingle gauge, a good quality flashlight, spare batteries, chalk, an extension cord, bungee cord, a hammer, a multi tool, and a shovel or rake. There are adjuster-specific wearable containers available with compartments for all your equipment. As you go on more deployments, you’ll be able to flesh out this list to suit your preferences.
You never know what’s awaiting you on a catastrophe deployment. There could be standing water, collapsing roofs, sharp wood and nails, and mold or hazardous chemical spills. Make sure you bring a hard hat, work gloves, coveralls, and safety glasses. Your work boots should be steel-toed for maximum protection. Use slip-on Cougar Paws over your boots if possible.
This is the most important tool you can bring. You need a digital camera with plenty of memory that takes clear, high-res photos that accurately portray the conditions you’re seeing. It needs to take good shots in all lighting conditions and easily export them to your laptop. Don’t forget a wrist or neck strap so you don’t drop your camera off a roof – it happens.
These are the small items you need to have on hand “just in case”: blankets in case you find yourself sleeping in your vehicle; bottled water; snacks; books or cards to pass the time; a basic first-aid kit with antibiotic ointment, band-aids, antihistamines, and a face mask; insect repellent and itch-relief spray; and a portable emergency and weather alert radio.