What Is a Claims Adjuster? (With Types and Duties)

Updated July 19, 2023

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

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.

Key takeaways:

  • 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.

Related: 8 Entry-Level Jobs To Pursue That Require No Experience

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

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

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.

Related: How To Get Hired as a Claims Adjuster (With No Experience)

Independent adjuster

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.

Related: How To Write a Claims Adjuster Cover Letter (With Examples)

Public adjuster

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.

Related: Independent Contractor: Definition and Examples

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.

Related: 9 Benefits of Having a Business Management Degree

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.

Related: How To Become a Claims Representative (Plus Common Skills)

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.

Related: 13 Careers in Insurance (With Job Duties and Salaries)

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.

Related: What Is Self-Employed Work and Why Do People Pursue It?

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

  • Report writing

  • Data collection and analysis

  • Insurance claims analysis

  • Investigation

  • Integrity

  • Reliability

  • Customer service

  • Critical-thinking

  • Negotiation skills

  • Communication skills

  • Strong analytical skills

  • Detail-oriented

  • Interpersonal skills

Related Articles

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

Explore more articles

  • 11 Careers in Driving To Pursue (Plus Salaries and Duties)
  • 15 Popular Careers With Horses
  • 10 Jobs You Can Get in Business Law
  • What Is a Reseller? Types and Benefits
  • Interview Q&A: "What Do You Do for a Living?" (Plus Examples)
  • 10 High-Paying Tanker Trucking Companies (With Descriptions)
  • 21 of the Best Cities for Accountants (With Salaries)
  • FAQ: What Can You Do With Divinity Degree? (With Jobs and Benefits)
  • 11 Types of Jobs by Industry (With Salary Information)
  • ESFP Personality Type: Definition, Traits and Careers
  • 21 High-paying Jobs With a Bachelor’s Degree in Business
  • 16 Top Jobs For Graduates With Communications Degrees