Settling homeowner claims can be a real hassle for carriers and policyholders alike. It blends together a combustible mix of estimators, insurance adjusters and independent contractors who constantly tussle over the accuracy of estimates, completion times, uncertain labor and material expenses and profit margins."Just getting an estimate on smaller claims was becoming a problem for some of our policyholders," says Mark Stowers, associate director, property damage advisors, for Fireman's Fund Insurance Co. "Our customers wanted assistance in locating local contractors, and there was an inherent delay in locating estimators and contractors to do the work."

Prior to last year, Fireman's Fund worked with independent estimators who would go to the home, take photos, document the damage and prepare the loss estimate. In some cases, the Novato, Calif.-based carrier would wait up to 30 days after the first notice of loss before an adjuster received the estimator's report on a routine claim.

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