Simsol’s data warehouse and with the help of Gene Hensley, executive director of Vale National Training Center Inc., an estimating
education provider, we have compiled a list of the most common
estimating errors made by adjusters handling property claims.
overscoping Repair items
Double and triple overscoping of repair items occur for a couple of reasons. The first is a lack of thought during the estimating process. Adjusters will remove drywall from the walls of an
area and then pay (again) to remove wallpaper or texture from
the same walls. They will pay to finish pre-finished paneling or
cabinetry. Forgetting to remove the common wall shared by both
areas, adjusters will pay to frame an entire wall area of a room
and do the same for the adjacent room.
The second reason is somewhat software-related. All of the
major estimating platforms publish written specifications or
explanations of what is (and what is not) included in the repair
line items in their respective databases. In some applications,
these specifications are located on the same screen the user sees
when he or she is selecting line items for the estimate. In other
applications, the specifications may be a couple of clicks away,
requiring the user to do a little searching. In either case, many
adjusters fail to read all of the specifications and end up paying
for items twice. When replacing a door, for example, the specifications for that door may include a jamb and trim molding
for one or two sides of the door. If the adjuster doesn’t know
this, then he or she will select these items, thus unnecessarily increasing the estimate. Replacement of wall drywall may
include sealing and/or texturing, whereas painting may include
surface prep, removal of outlet and switch plates, and/or protection of adjacent areas. Adjusters using computers must read
and understand all of the specifications for each item in their
Below is an example of a “line item spec” for wall drywall from
one software product. It displays for the adjuster what is included
(and not included by default) in the repair item as well as how the
software program is calculating the unit cost.
Replace 1/2” Standard Wall Gypsum Drywall
Cost includes 1/2” drywall with 6% waste, joint tape, premixed compound,
drywall crews and labor cost to hang, tape and finish.
Labor / Material / Equipment Breakdown
Labor/Crew Rate: 32.81 Labor Unit Cost: 0.69
Man-Hours Per Unit: 0.0210 Material Unit Cost: 0.37
Units Per Man-Hour: 47.5077 Equipment Unit Cost: 0.00
Labor Unit Cost: 0.69 Total Unit Cost: 1.06
Current Area Calculated Values
Unit Quantity This Area: 656.00 Total Labor Cost: 452.64
Total Material Cost: 242.72
Total Equipment Cost: 0.00
Total Item Cost: 695.36
Total Labor Hours:
G SPECIFICATIONS ARE FOUND IN ALL OF THE MOST POPULAR ESTIMATING
SOF TwARE. ADJUSTERS wHO DO NOT KNOw ExACTLY wHAT IS INCLUDED IN AN
ESTIMATE LINE ITEM TEND TO OVER-SCOPE THEIR DAMAGE ESTIMATES.
E Ceiling and wall insulation not
adjusted to the correct R-value.
E Not adding waste to required manual
entry items such as roofing.
E Not rounding up when it is
necessary for items such as
E Replacing a breaker panel box and
not including the breakers.
E Forgetting range and dryer outlets
and breakers are 220V.
E Accurately estimating the number
of circuits required in a breaker box
by leaving out wall switches and
E Forgetting rough-in costs when
estimating plumbing fixtures
E Forgetting toilet seats when not
included with the toilet fixture.
E Replacing a single plumbing
line when replacing a sink and
tub when two lines are actually
E Replacing sinks and tubs and
forgetting to add the accessories
such as faucet sets, shower
heads, soap dishes and towel
E Forgetting to seal new drywall
E Not adding additional money for
contents manipulation and/or
protection of undamaged areas of
E Not taking into account additional
removal and dump fees for
hazardous materials such as
asbestos or home heating oil.
E Insulating interior walls when,
except on rare occasions, only
exterior walls contain insulation.
E Replacing blown acoustic ceilings
and then painting the acoustic. No
painting is necessary.
E Replacing roof trusses and then
replacing ceiling joists when the
bottom of the truss is the ceiling
E Failure to measure a roof properly
(or at all) because it is a two-story or
partially or completely burned away.
E Replacing the more expensive
subflooring line item when only
underlayment is required.
E Replacing vinyl or other floor
coverings under base cabinets when
the materials only butt up to the
bottoms of the cabinets.
E Using one line item lump sums or
square foot pricing for specialty
trades like electrical, plumbing
and HVAC when they should be
estimated line by line.
E Adding multiple minimum charges
for the same trade when unit costs
should be used.
E Adding waste to replacement
operations that already include waste
in the unit cost.
E Selecting a large dumpster when
a smaller one will do. Ask the
E Guessing at permit or dump fees.
Ask the contractor.
E Including fees for engineering and/or
architects when one or both are not
always needed. Check with building
authorities. Ask the contractor.
In all fairness, as much as we have talked about over paying a claim, insurance
carriers want to pay what they owe, and not a penny more or a penny less. Once again,
we find there are many areas where adjusters come up short in their estimates:
Remembering some of the items above, adjusters can avoid preparing
estimates, which at first glance, can be considerably lower than a properly scoped
estimate. They can also avoid additional conflict with a correct scope of repair.