Our Auto Total Loss Tax & Fees Story

Claim Toolkit’s newest product is Auto Total Loss Tax & Fees. If you’ve never heard of it, an adjuster puts in the amount of a total loss vehicle with all the vehicle and owner information and our product tells them what the taxes and fees are associated with that information. If might not sound that difficult, but it’s a beast! Did you know that taxes and fees can be different from your neighbor across the street?

So, how did Auto Total Loss Tax & Fees get started? A customer came to us asking if we could create it! So, we did. But, it looked very different than how it does now. We created the platform with the calculator but told the customer that they needed to update the taxes and fees themselves – that would not be something we would maintain. In fact, our President wasn’t about it at all! He said there would be no way for anyone to create this system and keep it up to date. The man power that it would take would be off the charts.

Our Vice President thought it could be done so pushed ahead! Along with our very talented developers, they created a platform that an adjuster could enter in the vehicle information and the final calculation with taxes and fees would populate. Again, at the beginning though, the customer had to keep up with the taxes and fees. 

If you’re like me, you might not really think about taxes and fees, but now take a second and really think about it. You need to keep track of taxes and fees for EVERY country across the U.S. And what do you need to calculate taxes and fees? The garaging address. If you’ve never lived in the mountains before, let me tell you, USPS hates our addresses. It might be hard to believe, but we actually don’t get mail to our houses because our addresses aren’t validated. Now, let’s put that all together…to figure out taxes and fees, we need to know the garaging address to figure out the county and not all addresses will validate. What does that mean though? Someone needs to manually check those addresses that won’t validate. I know, a beast!

When it became apparent that the customer wasn’t keeping up with the taxes and fees, plus more customers inquiring about the product, the Claim Toolkit team took over. We decided that our small (but mighty) team would take this on full time and keep track of the taxes and fees. It has been quite the undertaking but every day we have more insurers interested in the product. Why? Because it’s that difficult to keep track of taxes and fees and no one else is doing it!

What I hope you take away from this story is, if a customer asks for something, we will do our very best to make it a reality – no matter the obstacles! Here at Claim Toolkit, we take on big challenges to make claims adjuster’s lives easier. That’s why we do what we do. 

How to Disagree (Part I): The Power of And

I love the Godfather series of movies. One of my favorite scenes is the one where Al Pacino is lectured: “This is the business we have chosen.”

If you are a working adjuster, someone will disagree with you on every day that ends in a “Y”.

This is the business we have chosen.

It follows that being able to hold your own in any argument is a necessary survival skill. Over the next several weeks, Mark’s Claims will be here with simple – but effective – techniques on how to disagree without being disagreeable.

Today’s is the simplest of all:

Never use the word “But”. Instead, use “And”.

Social science research at the Ottawa Institute for Advanced Linguistics found using the conjunction “but” was far less effective (as much as two thirds less effective) in resolving a dispute, compared to the conjunction “and”. 

In the experiment, students received a false but official-looking notice that they would not be allowed to graduate because they had unpaid tuition. They were told to visit an office bringing proof of payment where the researchers waited. In each case, regardless of the student’s proof, they were met with 1 of two statements:

But you can’t graduate without paying all of your tuition.”


And you can’t graduate without paying all of your tuition.” 

The subjects were evaluated on their reactions to each statement. Statements with “but” were evaluated to be 64% LESS EFFECTIVE than statements with “and”. “However” showed a meager improvement to 47% LESS EFFECTIVE.

My own experience proves this technique works! Let’s try it!

“I know you believe your car to be worth $10,400 and the market value is $10,200.”

“Yes, you indeed had the right of way and you were too fast for the conditions based on the law.”

“Your demand of $55,430 remains a mystery to me and the actual value of the case is not even the same number of digits.” 

So simple!

Get rid of “But“. Use “And” instead.

Stay tuned for more tips on how to disagree! 

Distracted Driving – Who’s at Fault?

In honor of April being National Distracted Driving Awareness Month (we promise it’s real), let us tell you about Claim Toolkit for Auto. But first a story – which may or may not be true. You decide!


A college student was driving through a campus parking structure, going around and around to get to the bottom exit. She took a turn a little wide in the narrow structure and collided with another car coming up the parking rows. Thankfully, no one was hurt, it was just a little fender bender on the front left bumper of each car. No one was around to witness and no cops were called. Who was at fault?


Who decides who’s at fault? What questions do you ask to determine who’s at fault?


In this scenario, the girl coming down was at fault (she was going too fast and taking those turns too wide) but the claim was deemed 50/50. Could this have been ruled differently if more questions were asked? Was someone looking at their phone? Maybe reading comments on a graded paper they just got back? Or talking to a passenger about the happy hour they are going to?


Maybe this is a true story, maybe it’s not, but we’re sure as a claim’s adjuster -or anyone in the P&C insurance field – you’ve heard thousands of stories similar to this one.


It’s not a surprise – there are all kinds of distractions these days. April has even been declared National Distracted Driving Awareness Month! Are you capturing all these distractions with the questions you ask when a new claim comes in?


Did you know that 34% of all crashes have more than one driver at fault? What’s your percent? If it’s 10%, that could mean you’re giving out money that you shouldn’t!


Claim Toolkit for Auto provides accident type tips and evaluation techniques to improve claim rep skill. We give fast, accurate assessments of realistic ranges for settlements. Don’t pay out more money than you have to! I bet if you were to do a cost analysis, the cost of this product wouldn’t even be a blimp on the radar to how much money your company could be saving. Don’t worry – we can help with that. We even help with training claim reps!


Maybe your company would have won this claim in the scenario above and not have had to pay anything out. What do you think? Well, if you had Claim Toolkit for Auto then yes, maybe you wouldn’t have had to pay anything because you had the software to ensure you were asking all the right questions and your adjusters have been trained on evaluation techniques. Just think….have you been giving away unnecessary money? That’s a thought that could keep you up at night! But don’t let that thought distract you while you’re driving – or we’ve taught you nothing today:)

Introducing Mark’s Claims

Something happened when I wasn’t paying attention. I have become an insurance claims expert. As a matter of fact, I have spent a lifetime learning to adjust.


In 35 years in the business, I have been an appraiser, auditor, investigator, adjuster, manager, regional manager and Corporate Claims executive while working for a carrier. I also spearheaded major projects including new claim systems and changing a 5,000-person organization to a 24 X 7 operation.


As a vendor, I have benefitted from the experience of the 25,000 adjusters I have met in the 47 states and 4 countries I have traveled to for my job. Collectively they insure everything from cruise ships to Corollas to coconuts falling on your head. Much of what I know they taught me.


Along the way I invented five software applications in wide-spread use and today we support 80 P&C carriers, TPAs and self-insureds. Because of my career in Claims, this kid from Atlanta, Illinois (pop. 1,700) considers every day Thanksgiving. For real.


Recently some super smart team members encouraged us to expand our social media presence. We have and it has given me this platform.


After literally millions and millions of claims, I have learned a few things a long the way. The purpose of Mark’s Claims is to share some of those tips with you. I’ll be back to illuminate and share one little corner of the claims worlds I have been fortunate to have visited.


You’ll learn:

The most important question to ask in every loss;

How to deal with angry people;

The best way to disagree; and


Overall, little tricks to help you investigate, assess and negotiate any claim.


I hope to challenge you, educate you and entertain you. If you feel Mark’s Claims could benefit your team or colleagues, please like, share or message us!


Because one day – and it won’t even take 35 years – you’ll realize you are an expert.