Xactimate Insurance Claim Estimation – A Science Project

By: David Herring, Estimator, Insurance Claims Specialist, Xactimate Writer
CEO, WriteLoss Inc. (WriteLoss.com)

A friend of mine said “your work seems like watching paint dry.” I responded, “It’s more
like standing guard of the wallet of the Insured (owner) when I do this work….it’s a science project, not a copy job, or some formula that magically fills in line after line. It is quite literally the task of deconstructing the entire loss, and figuring out the labor, materials, codes, difficulties and costs to put things back in place like it never happened.

This conversation about my work had me thinking about common matters about the truly powerful estimation that goes to the insurance carriers.

1. Insurance carriers speak one language, it is line after line of explanation!
A properly formatted estimate that explains every cost in the job, that is backed up with pictures, will more than often, be paid after a some explaining. The Carrier insurance Adjuster often has not studied the project like the good contractor, Public Adjuster, or Estimator. When things are explained the right way, the claim gets paid.

2. Mystery is not Margin for Contractors on Insurance Jobs!
Just because Mrs. Smith doesn’t care that you haven’t put everything on a $150,000 job into 600 line items doesn’t mean the Insurance company is the same. When we estimate and write up an insurance claim, we have to go through the Science of drilling down through every little detail that nets every ounce of money on the job. I talk to contractors all the time that are “scared of insurance.” I say to you, your problem isn’t the insurance carrier it is your estimation language. I act as a translator for many to get to the, what “is-is” facts of the project at hand.

3.Code Upgrades require more documentation!
Recently I worked on a claim where the 3 squares of roof were just under a 3/12 pitch. The roof was shingled and needed to be replaced after hail damage. The insurance carrier offered $1,245 this area of roof. Under current building codes, we must replace this part of the roof with a membrane roof, not shingles. The contractor said “the code says it.” and nothing happened. We contacted the local permitting office and got an e-mail that confirmed the necessity to use another roofing types for the low slop. We turned this in and the client got a check for $3,124 for this one section of roof. Details matter, hand wringing does not work!

On another claim recently, we had the building inspector meet at the loss location and give a blessing to $74,000 in necessary items to allow for a permit to be issued. The client racked up $89,000 on a claim that originally paid $17,000. The facts can change everything!

To the Contractors:
I frankly get tired of hearing the complaints of those that will not either hire an estimator like me or learn the language of the insurance industry all together. If it was easy, everyone would do it. I specifically note that every contract I work with comes back over and over. There is a reason; when it is done right, the contractor makes more money!

To the Public Adjuster:
The most powerful of tools in your trade is an Xactimate report that can be justified in every way possible. Reach out to me and I will be glad to provide you help as I do for countless others.

To the Insured Business Owner or Home Owner with an Insurance Claim:
Call a Public Adjuster. Look for the advice of a powerful partner, we can recomend some of the best in the business.


The Science of the insurance claim is produced with facts that cannot be refuted, in the language of the insurance carrier. Discipline, and time will almost always amount to a larger, and more satisfying bottom dollar for the insurance claim.

By: David Herring, Estimator, Insurance Claims Specialist

800-272-1601 Fax

Xactimate Writers for Contractors, Adjusters, and Lawyers
United States & Canada