A good navigation system is an absolute must-have for all claims adjusters – and I don’t mean a buddy in the passenger seat with a paper map. Do you even know anyone that still uses a paper map? OK, maybe I do, but they're not claims adjusters. Paper maps are time-consuming and become outdated almost as soon as you buy them.
Our schedulers interviewed some of our highest-volume claims adjusters to see what kind of GPS they were using. We wanted to know what features they liked and if they would buy the same GPS again.
Since almost every smartphone comes with a built-in GPS receiver, some adjusters find it more convenient to just use their phones as navigation tools, rather than bother with a separate stand-alone GPS unit.
One-third (33 percent) of our adjusters use their cell phone for navigation. Of those, 67 percent use Google Maps and 33 percent use Waze.
Their top reasons for using their phones?
- It’s cheap, easy and convenient, since most of them already have smartphones.
- Smartphone navigation apps receive free updates automatically, which means the latest maps and databases will always be on the phone.
For the majority of our adjusters, though, these reasons just aren’t good enough. They want something that gives them more control over the navigation experience and won’t drain the battery on their phones or interrupt phone calls.
Two-thirds (67 percent) of our adjusters choose a GPS unit over their cell phones for navigation. Of those who purchased a separate GPS unit, 89 percent use a Garmin, which costs less than $200, while 11 percent use the OnStar system that came with their vehicles. Every adjuster we interviewed who uses a GPS unit is happy with the system and would buy it again.
The top reasons these adjusters choose a stand-alone GPS unit:
- They're often more accurate than many of the navigation apps available on smartphones, especially in remote areas, where cell phone data service may not reach.
- They're more user-friendly than smartphone apps because of their larger screen sizes.
- Adjusters can still use their phones easily for phone calls and other tasks without disrupting navigation.
Adjusters love the Garmin. Image Credit: Flickr - necopunch
As a former insurance adjuster, I've depended on my smartphone for GPS several times, only to have everything stop working when I entered a somewhat rural area with spotty cell phone coverage.
The takeaway? A smartphone GPS is great, as long as you know you will be near cell phone towers. Some apps also let you navigate even when you're offline; for example, Google Maps recently added the ability to download areas of the map for offline use. Just make sure you do it before leaving home so you don’t end up pulling out the emergency paper map.
Interested in our top picks for GPS units, apps and other adjuster essentials? Check out our Ultimate Tools of the Trade Checklist. Whether you're new to the business or a 20-year veteran, it has everything you need to be as efficient as possible.
Also, learn which cameras adjusters love in our Tools for Insurance Adjusters - Best Camera post. Here's to not getting lost! See ya on the storm.