Insurance Adjuster FAQ:
Answers to the Most Common Questions About Insurance Claims Adjusters
There are no strict educational pre-requisites for becoming an insurance claims adjuster. While a college degree is not necessary for most independent adjusters, you will probably need to obtain a claims adjuster license. Even if your home state does not require a license, AdjusterPro recommends you consider obtaining a Texas or Florida insurance adjuster license. These licenses are relatively easy to obtain (may be done 100% online), have excellent nationwide reciprocity, and will lend credibility to your resume. Although not required, formal training in Xactimate 27, the most widely used loss estimating program for residential properties, will also serve to further legitimize your professional portfolio.
Staff adjusters work directly for insurance companies as year-round salaried employees. Average entry salary for a staff adjuster ranges from $26,000 to $34,000 with a seasoned adjuster capable of pulling in $70,000 or more.
Independent adjusters operate as independent contractors, typically contracting with adjusting firms. Adjusting firms in turn contract with insurance companies who require claims support beyond the capabilities of their staff adjusters. As independent contractors, IAs work for periods sufficient to complete the job and are not salaried. Instead, IAs are pad on a per clam basis or occasionally on a per diem basis. After a major catastrophic event such as an earthquake or hurricane, independent adjusters may be putting in 70 to 90 hours per week. This work is highly lucrative, with many adjusters making $500 to $1,500 a day. Annual income can easily surpass six figures.
If you work as an independent adjuster, how much you get paid will depend largely on how much and how efficiently you can work. An independent adjuster will typically be paid on a per claim basis with the amount paid being a relative percentage of the settlement amount. This is known as a fee schedule (read more about fee schedules). An independent adjuster can expect, if working hurricane claims, to make an average of $400 per claim settled. As an independent contractor, an independent adjuster determines their own schedule, but an industrious and efficient insurance adjuster should be able to "close" between 3 and 5 claims per day. Thus, a good claims adjuster can easily top $1,000 a day while working catastrophe claims. Several months of hard work can quickly yield a six-figure income.
A staff adjuster is a salaried employee. Average starting salary ranges from $28,000 to $34,000. Experienced, senior-level staff adjusters can see their salary rise to the mid $70,000 range.
Independent adjusters must often deal with an erratic pay schedule. An adjuster may work a month or two, supporting him or herself on the road, without receiving a paycheck. Once the first check is received, typically payment will issued at least every two weeks. AdjusterPro recommends independent adjusters carry at least $5,000 in reserve for initial expenses while working. The goal of working as an insurance adjuster is to help people and make good money - don't sink your ship with unexpected debt at the outset.
If you intend to work as an independent adjuster, you will be employed as an independent contractor - typically with an independent adjusting firm. Independent adjusting firms in turn contract with insurance companies that have have more claims than their own staff adjusters can handle. There are literally hundreds of claims adjusting firms ranging from large firms with a roster of several thousand adjusters to smaller firms deploying only a handful.
Staff adjusters, meanwhile, typically work directly for an insurance carrier.
If your home state requires an adjuster license, AdjusterPro urges you to strongly consider obtaining your home state's license first. this will ultimately ensure the highest level of reciprocity across the country. If your state's claims license is reciprocal with Texas and Florida, we recommend obtaining those licenses as the next step. If your home state does not license adjusters, consider obtaining either the Texas or Florida license as your replacement "home" license.
Almost every newly licensed adjuster would benefit from additional claims training. While holding a license gives you the legal credential to handle a claim, it doesn't give you practical expertise in the artful science of actually adjusting a property or casualty claim. And while you may have 20 years experience in residential construction, how are your computer skills? Unfortunately, knowing how to send the occasional email and look up the weather isn't enough. Insurance adjusters use sophisticated estimating software, and your time and money will be very well spent in improving upon basic computer proficiency. Take advantage of Xactimate training given routinely in Texas, Florida, and Louisiana.
For career-minded adjusters serious about investing in themselves and their business, check out Vale Training Solution's line-up of hands-on adjuster training available through AdjusterPro's sponsorship.
There is always a demand for good staff adjusters with insurance companies hiring on a fairly regular and predictable basis. The demand for independent adjusters is less predictable, however, and depends largely upon the frequency, severity, and location of catastrophic events.
Beware of adjusting firms or adjuster schools that promise a job if you take their training or pay them money - such promises are very difficult to keep and paint a misleading picture of the adjuster employment landscape.
As with any job pursuit, a highly persistent and pro-active approach is the surest method to finding the right opportunity. Talk to an AdjusterPro career consultant to review your options and where to begin.
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This information was obtained via a 2010 state by state survey and was based upon the best information available. Please be sure to verify the accuracy individually per state statutes.