Startup Hopes to Carve a Low-Tech Niche with Tools for Claims Adjusters

By Jim Sams | April 17, 2019

In any discussion about the latest tools used by claims professionals, terms such as artificial intelligence, telematics and machine learning may come to mind.

But the owner of a Kansas City startup is betting what the industry really needs is a better tool bag, and better tools to put in it.

Promotional photo depicts BullyBag’s flagship product.

BullyBag & Tool Co., incorporated last April by independent adjuster Jerod C. Allen, is selling a line of products specifically designed for claims adjusters and estimators. The company bills its flagship product as the “ultimate tool pouch” for field adjusters and estimators.

Allen said he decided to build his own line of products after finding that many of the tools now on the market simply don’t do the job.

“I really just wanted to solve a problem,” Allen said. “I would go to Home Depot, ABC Supply and other supply houses and nobody had the answer.”

Allen said he designed a tool bag that is worn on a holster with separate pouches to hold the tools of the trade. He beta-tested a prototype while adjusting claims in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma and gathered feedback from friends and fellow claims adjusters. After refining the bag, he contracted with a textile factory in Vietnam to create his first inventory. Allen said the same factory produces armament bags for the U.S. Marine Corps.

That’s not a coincidence. Allen served in the Marines as an enlisted man for four years. And as they say, once a Marine, always a Marine. The company’s logo is Chesty, the Marine’s bulldog mascot.

Allen launched a career as a real estate broker after a four-year stint in the Marines ended in 1997. He went on to start his own mortgage business. The Great Recession put an end to that business, prompting Allen to start work as a roofer and eventually as an independent claims adjuster. He continues to adjust claims when time permits.

Allen’s company now sells three versions of the original BullyBag. Allen has also created his own line of tools, including a line of gear retainers that can be attached to tools to prevent them from falling if accidentally dropped off a roof and potentially hurting someone below.

“For adjusters the big thing is liability and safety,” Allen said. “It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when I drop my camera. Am I going to get lucky and is it going to fall in the gutter? Which is probably only 2 percent of the time.”

Allen is also working on a pry-bar that will work with today’s thicker siding materials, which will be dubbed the Sidebar. He said most pry bars don’t have the reach to do the job.

“There isn’t one that removes siding adequately,” he said. “It frustrated me for years.”

Allen said he’s working with a manufacturer in Taiwan to build the product and is 1.2 mm away from getting it right.

Allen declined to disclose the amount of BullyBag sales. “We sold a lot,” he said. The company employs five, he said, and is making the rounds at claims industry conferences. Allen said he’s hoping to build product name recognition through word of mouth.

Out in Eugene, Oregon, independent adjuster Dean Knowles had never heard of BullyBag. But he was intrigued when contacted by the Claims Journal to gauge how industry professionals may react to the product line.

Knowles said he can relate “100%” to Allen’s comment about tools skidding off of roofs. “It’s never any fun to drop your phone.”

Taking a look at the company’s website, he noticed a tape measure with a rounded end, which is used to keep the tab from getting stuck on a shingle when measuring a roof. Knowles said he used to stick the end of his tape measure into an empty 35mm film canister to keep it from catching.

“I definitely will troll their site,” Knowles said.

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