Career Development

How to Become an Insurance Adjuster

February 22, 2021

An insurance claims adjuster is an important position within the insurance industry that sometimes goes unnoticed by the general public. In fact, this job role is sometimes referred to as the "hidden gem" among insurance careers. Insurance adjusters play an important role in overseeing every aspect of the claims process. Because there are claims made every day, this job role is typically in high demand. In this article, we explore what an insurance adjuster does as well as the different types of adjusters and the actions you can take to pursue this career.

What does an insurance adjuster do?

An insurance claims adjuster's primary role is to investigate claims to determine an insurance company's liability in particular situations. They may ensure that claims are legitimate as well as decide a fair and appropriate amount for a claim settlement. Insurance claims adjusters work in a variety of insurance settings, including automobile, health, life and property insurance. To do their job, an insurance adjuster may perform tasks that include:

  • Interviewing the party that made the claim as well as the party that the claim has been made against
  • Speaking with any witnesses who were present when the damage or accident occurred
  • Requesting police, medical or other reports that are related to the claim
  • Gathering all documentation that supports or undermines a claim, such as statements, photographs and other records
  • Determining if an insurance policy covers specific claims being made and to what extent
  • Compiling all information in a report for the insurance company
  • Notifying all parties affected by the claims decision

Most insurance claims adjusters work with claims that are directly related to an individual's life, health, property or automobile insurance. For example, a medical claims adjuster may determine if an individual's insurance covers a particular medical procedure and then either approve or deny the claim. If a claim is denied, this means that a person will not receive coverage or a settlement for an incident or medical claim.

Related: Learn About Being an Insurance Agent

Types of insurance adjusters

There are a few different types of insurance claims adjusters within this profession. The following are the most widely recognized types of insurance adjusters:

Independent Adjuster

An independent insurance adjuster is a professional who works on a contractor basis for multiple insurance companies or third-party organizations. These adjusters are hired directly by the insurance companies to perform claims investigations and make claims-related decisions. An independent adjuster most commonly works with catastrophe-related claims such as hurricanes, fires or other natural disasters that impact a large number of people. This claims adjuster may travel to affected areas to perform their duties.

Staff Adjuster

A staff adjuster is typically the most well-known type of insurance claims adjuster. These insurance professionals work on the staff of insurance companies and perform claims management for the insurance company's clients. Most staff adjusters work on a full-time basis and are salaried as well as receive benefits from the insurance company. The most common type of staff adjuster is one who works for an auto insurance company and oversees claims made related to automobile accidents and other auto-related incidents.

Public Adjuster

Public insurance adjusters are professionals who work directly for policyholders or customers. They most commonly are enlisted when a person or business does not feel that their insurance settlement is fair or meets their needs. For example, if you are in a car accident and your insurance company refuses to provide you with an adequate settlement, you may hire a public adjuster to assess the claim and fight on your behalf.

How to become an insurance adjuster

The following are steps that most insurance adjuster professionals take to pursue this career:

1. Complete the minimum education requirements

In order to become a claims adjuster, you must have a minimum of a high school diploma or GED equivalent. If you do not have these, you should consider enrolling in GED courses and passing the GED exam. Most insurance claims adjuster positions do not require individuals to hold a bachelor's degree or higher. However, having a bachelor's degree or more may set you apart from other candidates.

2. Decide which type of adjuster you will be

As discussed above, there are several types of insurance adjuster positions available. Deciding whether you will be a staff, independent or public adjuster can help you determine which steps you will need to take to follow that career path. This will also give you a better idea of what you can expect when you do secure a job.

3. Take and pass an insurance licensing exam

Many states require insurance adjusters to obtain an insurance adjusting license. To qualify to take a licensing exam for your state, you may need to first complete a pre-licensing course. There are several courses available, and many are offered both in the classroom and online. If you wish to work outside of your state, you will also need to obtain reciprocal licensure in states you plan to work in. Research the state requirements in your area.

4. Maintain your licensure

Once you have become licensed as an insurance adjuster, you will be required to maintain your licensure through continuing education credits and/or regular license renewal. You can earn continuing education credits by taking courses both online and in person. Each state will vary as to its requirements for maintaining your licensure.

Related: Guide: How to Choose a Career

Skills required for insurance adjusters

Being a successful insurance claims adjuster requires several important skills. Common skills that effective insurance adjusters have include:

Communication skills

Insurance adjusters regularly interact with multiple people, including insurance policyholders, insurance companies and other professionals involved in an insurance claim. Being able to effectively communicate is an important part of being an insurance adjuster and can ensure that all parties are receiving adequate and up-to-date communications regarding a claim. These professionals should be able to communicate both orally as well as using written language.

Computer skills

Many insurance claims adjusters rely heavily on computers and computer programs to do their jobs. Most, if not all, insurance companies use electronic means to deliver claims estimates and other information relating to claims, making it imperative that insurance adjusters know how to efficiently use computer systems.

Time management skills

As an insurance adjuster, you may be responsible for multiple claims at once. This means that you must be able to effectively manage your time to handle all of your tasks and be efficient at your job. This is especially true for independent claims professionals who work in catastrophe claims, as many policyholders expect their claims to be handled in a timely manner and may become impatient when this is not the case.

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