How To Become an Insurance Adjuster in 4 Steps: A Guide

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated November 29, 2022 | Published February 4, 2020

Updated November 29, 2022

Published February 4, 2020

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

A person types on their laptop at a large table in an office setting.

If you're curious about jobs in the insurance industry other than insurance agents, you might consider learning more about the role of an insurance claims adjuster. Insurance adjusters help oversee every aspect of the claims process and verify each party's financial responsibilities. Understanding more about the path toward this career could help you reach your career goals.

In this article, we explore what an insurance adjuster does, explain how to become an insurance adjuster, review the types of insurance adjusters and discuss essential skills, salary and job outlook for this profession.

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 on a fair amount to issue in 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 all parties involved in the insurance claim

  • Speaking with any witnesses who were present when the damage or accident occurred

  • Requesting police and medical reports related to the claim

  • Gathering all documentation that supports or undermines a claim, such as statements, photographs and 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 relate directly 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. Those who work in auto insurance might inspect vehicular collisions or damage.

Related: Getting Into the Insurance Industry: Job Types and How-To Guide

How to become an insurance adjuster

Below 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, employers typically expect a minimum of a high school diploma or equivalent. Most insurance claims adjuster positions are open to individuals who only hold a high school diploma, but having an associate bachelor's degree or more may set you apart from other candidates. Relevant majors might include:

  • Business

  • Finance

  • Management

  • Communications

Related: 10 Types of Business Majors and the Differences Between Them

2. Decide which type of adjuster you want to be

There are several types of insurance adjuster positions available. Deciding whether you want to become 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 to secure a job and who you might network with to expand your career options.

Related: What Is an Insurance Claims Adjuster? Definition and Duties

3. Meet licensing requirements and earn your license

Many states require insurance adjusters to obtain an insurance adjusting license. To qualify to take a licensing exam for your state, you may complete a pre-licensing course. There are several courses available, and many are available both in the classroom and online. If you wish to work outside of your state, it's important to secure a reciprocal licensure in the state in which you plan to work. Research the state requirements in your area to learn what steps to take.

Related: FAQ: What Is an Insurance Adjuster?

4. Maintain your licensure

Once you become a licensed insurance adjuster, it's essential to maintain your licensure through continuing education credits and regular license renewal. You can earn continuing education credits by taking courses both online and in person. Each state varies as to its requirements for maintaining your licensure, so read your local guidelines to make a plan for keeping your credential current.

Related: 12 Types of Continuing Education

Types of insurance adjusters

There are a few 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 an individual who works as a contractor for multiple insurance companies or third-party organizations. Insurance companies hire these adjusters directly 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 affect large groups. This claims adjuster may travel to affected areas to perform their duties.

Related: 5 Reasons To Become a Cat Adjuster (Plus 4 Careers in the Field)

Staff adjuster

A staff adjuster is typically the most well-known type of insurance claims adjuster. These insurance adjusters 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. One of the most common types of staff adjuster is one who works for an auto insurance company and oversees claims made related to automobile accidents and incidents, but staff adjusters can also handle medical claims, property claims and life insurance claims.

Related: 15 Benefits of Working at an Insurance Company

Public adjuster

Public insurance adjusters are professionals who work directly for policyholders or customers. People may enlist these adjusters to help investigate insurance settlement they find unfair or dissatisfactory. For example, if a person is in a car accident and their insurance company rejects their claims for the repairs, they may hire a public adjuster to assess the claim and fight on their behalf

Related: 7 Steps for Writing a Public Adjuster Resume (Plus Example)

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 witnesses involved in an insurance claim. Being able to communicate effectively is an important part of being an insurance adjuster and can ensure that all parties receive adequate and up-to-date communications regarding a claim. It's important that these individuals can communicate both orally and in writing.

Related: Essential Business Communication Skills: Definitions and Examples

Computer skills

Insurance claims adjusters rely heavily on computers and software programs to do their jobs. Most insurance companies use electronic means to deliver claims estimates and updates relating to claims, making it imperative that insurance adjusters know how to use computer systems. Skills like using email, creating documents and navigating claims adjusting software can all be helpful.

Related: Computer Skills: Definitions and Examples

Time management skills

As an insurance adjuster, you may be responsible for multiple claims at once. It's vital for you to 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' claims might be time-sensitive.

Related: 5 Key Tips for Improving Your Time Management Skills

Salary and career outlook for insurance adjusters

The national average salary for insurance adjusters is $60,394 per year. Each insurance adjuster may earn a slightly different salary due to their location, experience, education and employer, though. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the job market for many insurance adjusters might shrink 6% in the coming decade due to automated technology. The frequency of natural disasters could drive demand for catastrophe adjusters, also called cat adjusters, so jobs in this niche might grow.

For the most up-to-date salary information from Indeed, click on the link(s) provided.

Explore more articles