Orem software company eases flood woes
Utah firm helps take guesswork out of repairs
Stuart Johnson, Deseret Morning News
OREM It's like a "Go-Go-Gadget Calculator" for contractors and insurance adjusters.
Not only does this computer program compute how much drywall would be needed for repairs to a waterlogged basement, but it will quickly calculate the area's going rate for drywall, plus nails and carpet.
That's the brains of Xactimate, a restoration insurance software program and company that Orem native James Loveland began nearly 22 years ago in his basement.
Now, more than two decades later, Loveland's sons run the company, which has grown to 237 employees, a new building near the mouth of Provo Canyon and an international customer base.
The cash cow is still Xactimate, but the company's name has been changed from Xactimate to Xactware they got too many calls asking if they were a computerized dating service, joked Eric Loveland, senior vice president.
The product, though far from romantic, was a dream come true for James Loveland, who put himself through Brigham Young University by working as a contractor.
However, he quickly realized that neither he nor his customers could read his atrocious hand-written estimates. So, he paired up with a tech-savvy friend and commissioned him to write a software program for estimating.
Approaching his first sale, James Loveland got a call from the customer on a Friday, who asked for a meeting that next Monday to ensure "they weren't working out of their basement," Eric Loveland said with a smile. "And that's exactly what he was doing."
So James Loveland quickly rented an office building, moved in and got the company's name in gold leaf on the window all in one weekend. And they made the sale.
The software works using Xactware Solutions Inc. as the middleman. First, an insurance company sends information to Xactware about someone who is filing a claim for a flooded basement.
Xactware takes that information and passes it along electronically to, most commonly, the insurance carrier's contractor through a direct-repair program.
The contractor then walks through the house with a laptop computer, the Xactimate software and a downloaded 3-D rendering of the home, complete with all dimensions.
Standing in a soggy bedroom, the contractor can make an electronic estimate by noting drywall, carpet, floor boards, nails, paint, light fixtures, light switches, wiring and anything else damaged by the flood.
That estimate then uses one of Xactimate's 460 geographically based price lists to create a running total.
The price lists take into account that construction costs in Park City are far more than those in Santaquin.
That detailed estimate is then sent back to Xactware, then to the insurance company, which must approve the estimate and OK the work.
"We're neither in the pocket of the insurance companies nor the contractors," said J. Carlyle Burt, director of architecture for the firm. "We're a neutral mediator. We report on what we've seen. We don't predict."
"We're in a unique situation," Eric Loveland added, "to have both groups trust (us)."
Xactware has processed nearly 13 million assignments worth $75 billion in claims, Eric Loveland said, adding that nearly 80 percent of insurance-repair contractors use their software, though not necessarily solely.
The Orem company has a few competitors in the estimating software business, including MSB, as well as Simsol and Symbility.
Xactware, now a wholly owned subsidiary of Insurance Services Office Inc., also provides the tools to help keep prices low after events like Hurricane Katrina by preparing price lists that act as benchmarks representing where prices were, not predicting or responding to where they might go.Adjusters, armed with Xactimate lists, can approach contractors and tell them their quoted price for shingling is far too high, based on prices from last week in the same area, thus preventing price-gouging.
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