What Is a Claims Adjuster?

A claims adjuster investigates insurance claims to determine the extent of insuring a company's liability. Claims adjusters may handle property claims involving damage to structures, and/or liability claims involving personal injuries or third-person property damage. A claims adjuster reviews each case by speaking with the claimant, interviewing any witnesses, researching records (such as police or medical records), and inspecting any involved property.

Key Takeaways

  • A claims adjuster investigates insurance claims to determine the extent of insuring a company's liability.
  • Claims adjusters may handle property claims involving damage to structures, and/or liability claims involving personal injuries or third-person property damage.
  • They either work directly for the insurance company, or they may be a freelance adjuster hired by the insurance company to handle specific claims.
  • Being a claims adjuster is a very stable career: there is always demand for this role, even in a recession.
  • In order to become a claims adjuster, check out your state's guidelines on licensing. In states where a license is required, many require a pre-license course and continuing education credits, after the license is obtained.

Understanding a Claims Adjuster

Claims adjusters verify insurance claims and determine a fair amount for settlement. These can be any type of claim, from personal injury to property damage. In property damage claims, the main role of the insurance adjuster is to carry out a detailed investigation into the claim by:

  • Inspecting the damage
  • Reviewing police reports
  • Speaking to witnesses
  • Talking to property owners

For example, if a homeowner makes an insurance claim due to a tree falling on the house, a claims adjuster would interview the claimant (homeowner), along with any witnesses, and inspect the property to determine the extent of the damage and the costs of repairing the property. The claims adjuster then submits documentation to the insurance company describing the incident and recommendations for the claim amount (how much money the insured will receive from the insurance company to repair the property).

Once the investigation is complete, the adjuster will then be in a position to determine the amount of the insurance company’s potential liability to its insured. Adjusters very often try to convince property owners to accept less money than their claim is worth.

How to Become a Claims Adjuster

Becoming a claims adjuster is not typically a career path that people think about, but is an industry in high demand of careers. Typically, insurance claims adjusters need at least a high school diploma, although an associate's or bachelor's degree can be preferred. From there, individuals will need to study and pass a licensing exam.

Some states require a certain number of hours of training that must be done ahead of time. From there, insurance adjusters need to complete continuing education credits in order to keep their license. In California, licensed independent insurance adjusters must complete a minimum of 24 hours of continuing education, per every two-year license term.

For example, in Florida, insurance claims adjusters must pass certain exams and need to hold professional qualifications. Residents can either take and pass the Florida Adjuster Examination, or take a pass a state-approved adjuster designation course. The state will also ask for proof that they have taken part in 24 hours of continuing educations at least every two years.

The following states do not require licenses for insurance adjusters:

  • Colorado
  • Illinois
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Missouri
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Nebraska
  • New Jersey
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Pennsylvania
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Virginia
  • Wisconsin

Benefits of Becoming a Claims Adjuster

$52,577

The average salary of a claims adjuster in the U.S., according to Indeed.com.

Claims adjusters have very stable careers: there is always demand for this role, and even in a recession, there will always be a need for adjusters to come and estimate the damage caused by natural disasters for individuals, businesses, and corporations. In addition, it's pretty easy to become a claims adjuster, if you're willing to put in the work and pass the licensing exam.

In addition, claims adjusters have a lot of freedom in their work. It's definitely a mobile job, but claims adjusters work on everything from estimating hurricane damage to doing paperwork, consulting, inspection, and more. It's really a job that you can build to focus on what you love, and hir out for the parts you don't. Especially if you're an independent claims adjuster, you can choose how you charge for the job and how you're paid.

Working With a Claims Adjusters

Claims adjusters work for the insurance company. They either work directly for the insurance company, or they may be a freelance adjuster hired by the insurance company to handle specific claims. In either case, they will not have your best interests in mind, as their employer is the insurance company. It is a good idea to consider employing your own independent claims adjuster, who works to protect your interests in a claim. Your own claims adjuster will do everything possible to minimize your loss. This lack of conflict of interest between the adjuster and insurer is in the claimant's favor.

If you are hit by an accident, the best thing you can do is provide detailed descriptions of all the items lost and make sure to create a home inventory, especially through photographs and videos. Get your own estimates for repairs, and make sure to do your due diligence.

Insurance Adjuster FAQs

Does an Insurance Adjuster Get Paid Well?

According to Indeed.com, a claims adjuster's average salary in the U.S. is $52,577 per year. However, a claims adjuster's salary will depend, based on how many claims they're working on at once. Some estimate that adjusters can earn thousands of dollars a week.

Is Being an Insurance Adjuster a Stressful Job?

Being an insurance adjuster is a relatively flexible job, but the process of negotiating and communicating with often distressed parties can add stress to the job.

How Can I Negotiate With an Insurance Adjustor?

If you are hit by an accident, the best thing you can do is provide detailed descriptions of all the items lost and make sure to create a home inventory, especially through photographs and videos. Get your own estimates for repairs, and make sure to do your due diligence.

How Long Does an Insurance Adjustor Have to Respond?

It depends on the state; each state will issue different guidelines for insurance adjusters to respond to a claim.