Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Concept and the Reality.

In my last job I worked as a property inspector that verified the replacement cost of homes for insurance companies. We did not work for a single company, we contracted with many of them nationwide.

In order for me to get this job, I had to take an online training course that was rigorous and timed. I had two weeks to pass 15 tests in order to be accepted. This was a contract job that was supposed to be part-time, where I worked out of my home.

During this training course, they taught us about the corporate culture and how we were supposed to represent the various companies that we worked for. We were also told about the various criteria by which our work would be judged and graded.

The job was to inspect the inside and outside of the insured residence and complete a report online and e-mail it back to the company. We were not to discuss policy or what the company may or may not do with the reports that were filed. We had to wear a tie, be courteous, not swear, etc, etc….

However, when I started actually doing the work, a few things became very clear. We were expected to have a 75% completion rate on cases within 10 working days. We were required to make three phone calls to the insured and attempt to see the house (risk) within 3 days of assignment.

The only problems were these. Most homeowners do not use their phones as a primary form of communications. They no longer have land lines, and they use their cell phones only for family communication and texting. If they see a strange number come up on their cell phone, they don’t answer.

The other problem is that most homes are not owner occupied. While home sales are going up, they are not being purchased by homeowners; they are being purchased by speculator and landlords as rentals, and thereby are managed by property managers. Getting hold of the insured, then finding out their property managers, getting hold of them, who then have to contact the tenants to schedule an appointment sort of blew the whole 75% completion rate in 10 days out of the water.

While this was a nice job, it was supposed to be a part time, work from home deal, and with the various problems I was running into, it was evident that it was a 40+ hour a week job that I was netting less than minimum wage for, so I eventually found something better.

I ran into one of my counterparts as I was starting my new job and discussed how difficult it was to meet the expectations of the company based on the phone / landlord issues. He sort of laughed at me and told me that he usually inspected 8 to 10 hours a DAY with no problem. Stunned I asked him how the hell he was able to schedule so many appointments.

He said it was simple; you call up the insured and leave them a voice mail that states if I can’t see you house in 48 hours your insurance policy will be canceled. Stunned, I reminded him that was against company policy. He laughed and replied, “That is window dressing for the clients, if you want to make money and meet quota you have to knock some heads. Policyholders and Property Managers are idiots.”

I just can’t work this way. I guess I just don’t have what it takes to screw people. But it appears that is what is necessary if you want to work in today’s modern world.