What Is a Claims Adjuster? (With Types and Duties)
Updated July 19, 2023
If you're looking for a rewarding career that offers exciting challenges and has a low barrier to entry, you may consider becoming a claims adjuster. Claims adjusters help people and businesses recover financially after a loss, which is among the reasons the career can be highly gratifying. Learning about what a claims adjuster does and the different types of career options available are great first steps in deciding whether this career is the right fit for you.
In this article, we explain what a claim adjuster is, including their key duties, types, how to become one and FAQs on the position, to better inform your career research.
A claims adjuster investigates insurance claims to determine the settlement amount for a client in the event of a loss.
An individual may become one of three types of claims adjusters, which are staff, independent and public adjusters, depending on their employer preferences.
To become a claims adjuster, individuals can consider an undergraduate degree and earn a license to practice.
What is a claims adjuster?
A claims adjuster works in the insurance industry and determines the extent of an insurance company's liability to calculate a fair amount for a settlement. They can handle any kind of insurance claim, from property damage after a storm to personal injury claims after a car accident. They may inspect a home, business or automobile and put together a report for claims examiners to evaluate.
What does a claims adjuster do?
Claims adjusters have varying duties depending on their specific employer. Regardless of where they work, they have in-depth knowledge of what their insurance company covers for customers. Some of their primary responsibilities include:
Verifying an insurance policy exists for the injured person or damaged property
Investigating property damage or personal injury accidents
Gathering evidence and information that relates to the case, including police reports and witness statements
Investigating questionable claims
Consulting with specialists, such as physicians, lawyers, engineers and architects
Compiling reports of investigation findings
Negotiating settlements and authorizing payments
Types of claims adjusters
Explore the three different types of insurance claims adjusters:
Staff or company adjuster
This type of claims adjuster works full-time for a single insurance company. As a salaried employee, a staff adjuster receives benefits and continuing education. Staff adjusters usually work on claims that relate to property damage or personal auto claims, but they may manage different claims on occasion.
Independent adjusters are self-employed and work as contractors for multiple insurance companies. This type of adjuster often works with catastrophe claims and travels to the affected area after a major weather event or emergency. These adjusters can allow for more objectivity when approaching claims cases, as they have no bias toward or for either party.
Public adjusters work for the policyholder. They help people and business owners file an insurance claim if a settlement that an insurance company proposes seems unfair. They also may help clients with calamity cases, as the settlement is often likely to be significant in these cases. Like independent adjusters, public adjusters are usually self-employed and work as independent contractors.
How to become a claims adjuster
Follow these steps to become a claims adjuster:
1. Pursue an education
While many claims adjusters hold only a high school diploma, an increasing number of insurance companies prefer candidates to hold an undergraduate degree, whether it be an associate or bachelor's degree. An aspiring claims adjuster can pursue their undergraduate degree in a subject like insurance, risk management, business, accounting, engineering and law.
A degree in business allows students to choose a preferred area of concentration, such as marketing, finance, accounting, management and entrepreneurship. The classes in these programs emphasize analytical thinking and problem-solving skills. Students also hone valuable communication skills. Students who pursue a degree in accounting receive a mix of courses on business and accounting, which can help adjusters deal with financial claims.
2. Obtain licensure
Many states require claims adjusters to have a license. If your state requires licensure, you can take a course in insurance adjusting and pass a licensing exam. The format for the exam varies from state to state. Many require a formal examination with multiple-choice questions that cover topics like the Adjuster's Act, fair settlement claims practices and adjusting losses, whereas others only require candidates to complete paperwork and pay the required fee.
Some states even allow students to skip the state adjuster exam if they complete an approved course and the course exam. Licensure candidates typically pass a background check and criminal records search, provide character references and obtain a surety bond.
3. Acquire experience
You can obtain experience as a claims adjuster through internships or entry-level positions with insurance companies. Internships also allow aspiring claims adjusters to shadow an experienced adjuster who can share their knowledge of negotiation, medical terms and claims quotes. These experiences are also beneficial in building a resume before applying for entry-level roles.
Related: Are Internships Only for Students?
Frequently asked questions
How much do claims adjusters earn?
The national average salary for a claims adjuster is $60,779 per year. An individual's salary can depend on various factors, including their location, education, experience level and employer. Adjusters who work full-time may also receive benefits, such as health insurance and paid time off.
For the most up-to-date salary information from Indeed, please click the link provided.
Do claims adjusters work weekends?
Claims adjusters generally work full-time, although their work schedules may vary depending on the type of adjuster they are. For example, a staff adjuster may work regular business hours and work weekends rarely, whereas an independent or public adjuster may adjust their hours and work evenings and weekends to accommodate clients. Although independent or public adjusters may work evenings or weekends at times, they may also enjoy a more flexible schedule as self-employed individuals.
What skills and qualities does a claims adjuster have?
Review some of the skills and qualities that high-performing claims adjusters have:
Competency in financial software
Data collection and analysis
Insurance claims analysis
Strong analytical skills
What are the benefits of working as a claims adjuster?
As a claims adjuster, you can enjoy a versatile career. You can choose to work for a company that manages different kinds of claims to experience variety in your work. You can also transition from being a salaried employee to an independent contractor so you can experience a different kind of work schedule and work structure. Still, you can gain fundamental insurance knowledge, which can help you transfer to an underwriting, sales or management position within the insurance industry.
Claims adjusters often enjoy generally stable careers. Even though the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports a 6% decline in employment between 2021 and 2031, it expects 23,200 jobs to become available each year until 2031. These openings may occur due to claims adjusters retiring or transitioning careers. The BLS also reports that the number of natural disasters, like fires and hurricanes, can influence the need for claims adjusters who work in property insurance.
Note that figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) help supplement data from Indeed.
What's the work environment of a claims adjuster?
A claims adjuster typically works in an office environment, whether it be their home office or their employer's office. Depending on a claims adjuster's employer, this employee may be able to work on a hybrid schedule. When a claims adjuster begins investigating a claim, they may travel to the location where the event occurred, especially if the claim involves property damage.
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